another mother sits vacant and empty on the floor of a fire house, wondering dull what to do with her hands now, they have no hair to smooth, no face to wipe, no pages to turn, that will smooth, wipe, turn this, trying not think how her baby was scared and she was not the re, and I don’t know what to do for her, so I cry again, and I curse, and pray for peace that passes all understanding. We need the pragmatists with policy , we need the prophets streaked in ash, We need the God who sees, and God with us.
So we can’t just do as we did after Columbine, after Virginia Tech, after Aurora. We can’t just grieve and hold our children close. We have to demand that our country earn the right to call itself a civilized nation. We need to do this because our central job as parents — maybe our only job, really — is to keep our children safe so they can grow up. Easy access to guns keeps us from doing that job.
There is always a middle place. Stepping toward it means laying down some pride and maybe even some money, to allow tax increases, to therefore increase the opportunity for education and services. And maybe it means jumping through even more hoops for your guns, because whether or not you think it’s already a difficult process, in countries where the regulations are stricter, there are fewer gun-related murders. And even if you think it’s difficult enough and you don’t want to see any changes, Adam Lanza used his uncle’s license. He purchased guns capable of firing off rounds so fast, no one had a chance. He had two of them. Please consider that if the regulations for what type of guns can be purchased could change, rapid-fire weapons would not be found to purchase aside from the black market. And even if there was a black market explosion, at the very least, that means it wouldn’t be so easy. So legal.
And every day I drop them off at school with total, absolute security, which is a pretty big deal for someone who has already thought out and prepared for all possible tragedies, like how to get out of a car that’s sinking in water or talking to the kids about strangers or for 2012 “The Tricky Person” and so when the one completely mundane regular part of the day that is definitely safe is suddenly, possibly unsafe, it’s mind altering. Life shifting.
So let’s grieve together. And let’s give one another the space to be shocked, to be pissed, to appeal to God, to be angry with God, to find peace in God, to question God, to want to take action, to want to wait, to blame, to pray, to be afraid, to be speechless, to vent, to lament, to speak up, to be silent, to pull our families close to us, to need some time alone.
We even regulate toy guns, by requiring orange tips — but lawmakers don’t have the gumption to stand up to National Rifle Association extremists and regulate real guns as carefully as we do toys. What do we make of the contrast between heroic teachers who stand up to a gunman and craven, feckless politicians who won’t stand up to the N.R.A.?
As one of my Facebook followers wrote after I posted about the shooting, “It is more difficult to adopt a pet than it is to buy a gun.”
So let’s state the plain facts one more time, so that they can’t be mistaken: Gun massacres have happened many times in many countries, and in every other country, gun laws have been tightened to reflect the tragedy and the tragic knowledge of its citizens afterward. In every other country, gun massacres have subsequently become rare. In America alone, gun massacres, most often of children, happen with hideous regularity, and they happen with hideous regularity because guns are hideously and regularly available.
First, find out what they have heard” is advice that puts the focus where it needs to be: on the child, not on the parent. Many of us think our children will be thinking and worrying about what happened in Newtown because we can’t avoid thinking about it ourselves. But what if the answer is that they know very little? What if the child in front of you doesn’t appear worried at all? Do we have to “talk to our children” about every tragedy? As awash in information as adults are, many children, especially younger ones, simply aren’t in that position. It may be difficult, but also unnecessary, to protect them from hearing about a news event at all. And a child whose television comes from Disney and whose primary use of a mobile device involves throwing birds at pigs may not be inundated with information in the ways we fear.
Believing that it’s somehow offensive or “politicizing a tragedy” to talk about the laws—or lack thereof—that precipitated a crime in the wake of that crime is absurd on its face. What more appropriate way to honor victims than to try and ensure that they didn’t die in vain, that we as a country will quickly and tirelessly work to make sure the ways in which we failed them will be amended as soon as possible? Besides that, if you don’t think that every single instance of gun violence in the United States isn’t already political to its core, you haven’t been paying attention.
A few weeks ago, [my 13-year-old son] Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7 and 9 year old siblings knew the safety plan—they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.
“I just feel so [why does it even matter what this person said when no words can bring 20 dead kids back to life?]” said some person who, just like everyone else, is completely unable to process or handle any of this. “It’s awful. Just too awful to bear.”
I don’t know if Fate’s bullet will hit me next or someone I love so much I can’t even type their names in this sentence. So I will make their lives richer. I will show them where they live in my heart by putting that heart on my sleeve for them to wipe their noses on. I will do this every day for as long as I can. I am more than aware of how fragile Life is, and how beautiful it can be.