Before the events of Friday, 12/14, I had a couple of blog ideas that I was mulling over…the stress of the holidays, buying Christmas gifts made in America, and a couple of other now seemingly insignificant things about the trials and tribulations of being a mom. And then some crazy kid with an assault rifle blew his way into an elementary school and killed 20 children and 6 adults. And so I thought, well, I’ll wait. I’ll let someone else address the big, pink, elephant-shaped machine gun in the room. I didn’t feel comfortable writing anything, really, until the topic of Friday had been addressed. And so I kept waiting, checking my JerseyMomsBlog page, waiting to for someone to put into words what I was feeling, or to try to make sense out of what is going on in the world. As if I was playing a game of chicken, I kept waiting to see who would go first. And since no one has, I guess it will be me.
I’m the last person who should be addressing this topic. I am not sentimental by nature. I’m much more comfortable making a joke than shedding a tear. In fact, my husband and I often joke that I’m more like the husband and he’s more like the wife when it comes to sentimental stuff. He’s much more likely to tear up at some schmaltzy commercial or movie, while I look on smirking, saying something like, “Rocky V? Really? That’s what you’re crying over?”
That’s not to say I’m completely stoic and unemotional, but it takes a lot to get me there. However, watching the events unfolding on Friday got me there, swiftly. The tears flowed and my heart ached for those children, the teachers, the families and the survivors. And I cried because hearing about that town, about those kids and their school, it felt all so familiar. The town I live in is similar to Newtown in that it’s one of those towns where everyone seems to know each other. My kids are in elementary school – fourth grade, and yes, first grade. In a different world, that could have been my family on Friday. And then it hit me, in this world it could still be my family. And that’s when my sadness, my tears, turned to anger. And while I may have a hard time expressing sadness, well, anger is a whole different ball game, and one I’m completely comfortable playing.
I’m not a political activist by nature. For me, Facebook and these blogs are a place to have fun and to joke around. But after seeing one too many articles and Facebook posts about how the solution to the problem of too many guns is to add more guns, to arm teachers with guns, to have guards in schools with guns, I decided it was time to get political – and to ask people to get logical. In what other scenario would you try to solve a problem by adding more of the problem into the situation? If you were obese, would eating more food be the solution to being obese? If you were an alcoholic, would drinking more be the solution to being an alcoholic? Why in the world do we feel like adding more guns to the problem of gun violence is the solution? Especially when statistics about gun ownership in relationship to gun violence shows the opposite. Oh, yeah, I know. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Yes, well, the fact of the matter is that people do kill people, but people WITH guns kill the majority of them. According to the FBI, firearms were responsible for 68% of all murders that occurred in the USA in 2011.
I don’t want my kids to live in a war zone. One in which school supplies include not only pencils and notebooks, but bullet proof vests; where teachers not only need to be certified to teach but to carry a concealed weapon; where instead of raising funds for holiday parties and Smart Boards, the PTO’s fundraising goals are for things like bulletproof doors and Kevlar blankets. That’s not a way to live. And there’s no reason for things to continue going in this direction.
In the past few weeks, I’ve signed more petitions than I have in my life, and they were all about the same thing – gun control laws. While I’m not looking to infringe on anyone’s second amendment right, let’s just get real for a moment. The second amendment says we have the right to “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Well, sure, back when that was written, that was the case. There was no police force, no Army, no Air Force, no Marines. The “people” were the police, the military. But now we have a society that’s full of organized police and military forces trained to defend the general population. So, if you want to have a rifle because you like to hunt or a handgun because for whatever reason you feel at risk in your home, it seems that would be your right. But there is no good, no logical, no sensible reason for the average citizen to own a semi-automatic, assault, military-style weapon and high capacity ammunition.
None. Zero. Zip.
Weapons designed with sole purpose of killing large numbers of people should not be considered “hobbies”, do not belong in a “collection” and should not be anyone’s “right.” Trains make a great hobby. Stamps are meant to be collected. Assault weapons should not fall into either of these categories. What if I wanted to build a bomb in my basement? It’s not like I want to detonate it or anything. I’d just like to add it to my collection of bombs. Wouldn’t that fall under the category of “arms” and therefore be my right? I mean, hey, it’s just a hobby. I’m a responsible adult. I would never hurt anyone with it. It’ll be fine! No, that wouldn’t be allowed because building bombs is illegal. So why is a bomb an illegal weapon but a semi-automatic assault rifle not? Some would say a bomb is a weapon of mass destruction, so it’s totally different. And my reply is, is it? What counts as a weapon of mass destruction? When one individual can kill 26 people in a matter of minutes, isn’t that mass destruction enough?
So, I will continue to add my name to petitions, to write to my congressional representatives, to my Senators, to my President to demand that action be taken. I will use my voice, whether on here or on Facebook or Twitter or whatever other avenues I have available to me to call for a ban on assault weapons. I will march and protest and do whatever I can to make this happen. And I will refuse to accept the idea that it can’t happen, that it’s too late. If people gave up every time something insurmountable arose slavery would have never been abolished, women would have never been given the right to vote – in fact, this country would have never been founded. So, there is no “I can’t” – there’s I won’t, it’s too much trouble, I’m not motivated enough…but there’s no I can’t.
If you feel the same, I urge you, please do something about it. Write to your government representatives. (To find your Congressional Representative: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/. To find your senators: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm.) Find a petition to sign. Make your own voice heard. Sadness and anger without action are just sadness and anger. But if you do something with those feelings, if you direct them into positive action, well, that’s the stuff that changes the world.