Now Can We Talk Smarter Gun Laws?

Children are led away after last Friday’s shooting. AP photo

“I was in the gym and I heard like seven loud booms, and the gym teachers told us to go in the corner and we huddled. We all heard these booming noises, and we started crying. So the gym teachers told us to go into the office where no one could find us. Then a police officer told us to run outside.” -Student at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Can we all agree that no child should ever have to tell a story like that?

When the news about this horrific massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary broke I was, like so many of you, shocked, sickened and outraged. Why another shooting? Why so many people dead? Why so many little children slaughtered?

And why why why do we seem incapable of doing anything about it?

Take a good long look at the photo. It’s famous now and has been seen around the globe. But look again and think about what it is saying to us. The photo is telling us we are failing them. It is telling us we cannot keep our children safe.

They are crying in shock as they are marched out of their school. Twenty of their fellow students are dead and most of them were babies in kindergarten. Seven adults are dead, including the shooter. (Those are preliminary numbers and may have changed by the time you read this.) These were children and adults who were hunted down and shot to death. In school. In a place where they should be safe. Will they ever feel safe again?

One boy said his little sister told him that as they were leaving the building the state troopers told them to hold hands and close their eyes so they would not see bodies or blood. Maybe they didn’t see the blood, but they will always remember their terror.

Too bad the nation has a history of forgetting.

Tell me, please, what will it take for us to do something about gun violence in our country? Why do people think if they just ignore it the problem will go away? Why, as soon as we try to discus gun control, do some pro-gun activists scream loudly that we need more guns in order to protect us from guns?

And why, oh why, does anybody listen to them?

Here’s something: The day before the Sandy Hook massacre, the Michigan legislature passed a bill giving people the right to carry guns in schools, churches and daycare centers.


Police said the attacker Adam Lanza, 20, first shot his mother, then went to the school and turned his guns on the kids.

If our history tells us anything, it’s that guns are easy to get, even by people who shouldn’t have them. Lanza, clearly mentally and/or emotionally unbalanced, had two and maybe more.

President Obama wept as he told the nation, “Our hearts are broken today.

“The majority of those who died today were children – beautiful, little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them – birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers, men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.”

The President spoke as a father, as a parent, but he also spoke as a leader, and this is what he said:

“As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it is an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago, these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods and these children are our children. And we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”

Yes. Regardless of the politics. Please.

We need to hold the President to this. We need better, smarter gun laws and we need better mental health care for troubled and sick people.

Twenty children.

Weep for them, then make your voice heard.