Friday, December 13, 2013

The Year Anniversary of Newtown: A Mother's Plea

This is the text of an open letter I read during a Huffington Post Live segment recorded on 12/13/13.

I spent the evening of December 14, 2012 nestled under a dinosaur comforter, enfolded in the arms of my five-year-old son.

Like countless American parents, the unthinkable events at Sandy Hook Elementary school that morning drew me to my children with a visceral, almost primal fierceness. I hungrily gathered them up at school that afternoon, grateful beyond words for the mere sight of them, with their utterly ordinary jumble of backpacks and cockeyed art projects and muddy Velcro sneakers. That night, I crawled into bed with my kindergartener, reassured that for those hours he laid next to me, I knew he was safe from harm.

When I woke up the next morning, still dazed and horrified, I took a small measure of comfort in knowing that things would finally have to change. That surely the mass murder of 20 first graders – first graders! – and six educators in an American public elementary school in 2012 would shock everyone into action. Surely this would force us to tamp down the lunacy that is our obsession with guns. Who could possibly argue that we didn’t need to substantially overhaul our gun laws after a tragedy of this proportion?

And yet, here we are, a year and more than 11,000 gun deaths later.

Nothing has been done at the federal level to stop Americans from purchasing weapons meant to be used by soldiers and turning them on their fellow citizens in movie theaters and grocery store parking lots and office buildings and first grade classrooms.

Nothing has been done at the federal level to change the fact that 40% of gun sales -- some six million guns every year -- are still not subject to background checks.

I am not a public policy expert. I am not a politician. I am not a constitutional scholar. I am a mother, endowed with old-fashioned common sense and a respect for the sanctity of human life.

And I am here, on behalf of my two children, unafraid to say that the gun lobby emperor has no clothes.

You simply cannot look me in the eye and tell me that an America where a person can legally purchase an assault weapon and hunt people like animals is the America the framers of the Constitution intended when they wrote the 2nd amendment. You cannot tell me that a person’s right to own such a weapon trumps my children’s right not to be murdered in their classrooms with one. You cannot tell me that the wholesale slaughter of six and seven year olds is a necessary price for our freedoms. And I refuse to be cowed into thinking even for a moment that there are any shades of grey to that argument. To do so is sheer madness.

On December 14, 2012, we failed 20 precious American children.

In the year of inaction since, and every day we do not take steps to pass comprehensive gun control laws, we fail every single American child.