I wanted to write this post about the elementary school shooting in Connecticut, which saddens me in innumerable ways. There is something about the senselessness of the entire thing that touches a chord. Plus, it doesn’t help any that I have a child right in the age range of the majority of kids that lost their lives on Friday. The one big, personal, promise I made to myself in the wake of this news is that I’ll never drop my children off anywhere without telling them how much I love them, no matter how angry they may have made me only a few minutes before.
While some folks took the opportunity to remind everyone that every day kids across the US are killed by gun violence and that doesn’t get as much press as this situation, I think there is something very different about a situation like this which makes it rise to the forefront of the public consciousness the way that the slow trickle of every day tragedies do not.
In the immediate aftermath, some suggested that the conversation about gun control shouldn’t be had now out of respect for the victims, but as others have notes, if not now, when. It seems like a tragedy of these senseless proportions should be THE time to discuss the state of guns in the United States and just flying the banner of the Second Amendment is not enough of a reason to not have this discussion.
When huge scale massacres like Sandy Hook occurred in other countries, the response is to reform gun laws such as in the case of Australia where they banned the sale of semi-automatic weapons and instituted a huge buy back program. Similarly in Scotland their response to an elementary school massacre was also to pass new gun control laws. But in the US the conversation about gun control keeps getting delayed out of “respect” for the victims and then the outrage wanes and our public consciousness moves on to the next shiny object.
Regardless of all the excuses along the lines of “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” or “I need guns for my self-defense” reasonable small steps should be taken because no one — NO ONE — needs a semi-automatic weapon for their self-defense or for hunting or some other ridiculousness. Arming people to the teeth wouldn’t have stopped any one of these horrific tragedies, the heroes of Sandy Hook were not gunslingers riding in to save the day, they were the teachers and administrators who shielded and hid their children and lost their lives to protect them.