In January of 2014, my daughter and I participated in a vigil for victims of gun violence. What I witnessed at that event deepened my resolve to reform America’s gun culture. Afterward, I was asked by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America to write this for Richmondmom.com. You may view the publication here.
In the last year, I’ve made time to ask my representatives to take action to prevent gun violence. Here are three reasons why:
1. Two years ago, when my daughter was in sixth grade, a gun was confiscated from one of her classmates. Days later, I sat on her bed, and we had a sober conversation. I’m not an alarmist, and I believe there are plenty of things kids don’t need to worry their little heads about. So I had an almost out-of-body experience as I watched some lunatic mother, who looked just like me, tell my daughter, “Honey, I’m sure it will never happen… but if you’re ever in a situation where someone is shooting, don’t run away in a straight line. Go in a zig zag. It makes it harder for them to aim at you.”
2. One year ago, I was reading an article about six-year-old Noah Pozner, one of the victims of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. It said, “Connecticut Governor Malloy came to the funeral home to pay his respects. [Noah’s mom] took him by the arm and brought him to the casket. Noah’s famously long eyelashes — which she spoke about in her eulogy — rested lightly on his cheeks and a cloth covered the place where the lower half of his face had been.”
3. Last week, my 13-year-old daughter and I made our way to the Virginia Capitol to attend the 21st Annual Vigil and Advocacy Day hosted by The Virginia Center for Public Safety. In the midst of the remarks, a Capitol police officer approached my daughter and confiscated the pine dowel from her American flag. Sticks can be used as weapons and, therefore, aren’t allowed on Capitol grounds. Steps away, a dozen “Guns Save Lives” men, several armed with handguns and assault rifles, walked the Capitol grounds (and later, halls) undisturbed.
There’s something wrong here, folks.
There’s something wrong when rational mothers feel it’s appropriate to advise their middle schoolers how to flee from an active shooter.
There’s something wrong when a mentally-ill 20 year old can use military-grade weapons to blow the hand and jaw off a six-year-old boy, and similarly massacre 19 of his classmates and six of his school faculty in a matter of minutes.
There’s something wrong when you aren’t permitted to wave an American flag on Capitol grounds if it’s attached to a stick, but you’d be most welcome to affix it to the end of a loaded assault rifle.
Are you good with what’s going on in our country right now? Have you read what other industrialized nations say about us? How they fear visits to our country? How appalling they find us? How they pity us?
It doesn’t have to be like this. Please realize that.
Our children now participate in “lockdown drills,” preparing for armed intruders the same way they do for fires and tornadoes. We now behave like gun violence is something we can’t do anything about. But no other civilized country teaches its kids to hide in closets from the threat of assault weapons.
Every day, every death, every drill… represents another day in America without a public policy solution. Just last week in Virginia, legislators voted down a Senate bill for criminal background checks despite the fact that 92 percent of Virginians (including gun owners) favor background checks.
In the face of the powerful gun lobby, we’ve got to have legislative and moral courage. And the only way that will happen is if parents demand it. It’s time we showed our kids what freedom really looks like. If you care about this issue, it’s time you took meaningful action. Please act.