Yesterday, 17 people died in a mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Is it finally time to offer more than "thoughts and prayers?"
I've covered school shootings and other tragedies for Parents for more than five years. In the aftermath of Sandy Hook, I wrote from the perspective of a mom with a daughter the exact same age as the victims. And all these years later, the impact of these tragedies remains the same.
We hug our kids closer, and get nervous about sending them to school the next day. The politicians offer their thoughts and prayers. We debate gun policy with our friends and their friends on Facebook. And then—nothing—until the next tragedy begins the cycle anew.
And even in the face of all these tragedies, gun control laws are getting laxer. Nearly one year ago, President Trump rolled back President Obama's executive order that made it harder for people with mental illness to get their hands on guns—a regulation that might have saved the 17 teachers and students who lost their lives in Parkland, Florida, yesterday, given the shooter's violent and troubled history. And a Concealed Carry Reciprocity bill, which would allow people from states with fewer gun regulations to carry their weapons into states with stricter laws, has already passed the House and is onto the Senate.
Based on Trump's statement regarding Parkland, which never even mentioned guns or gun control (not to mention the fact that he received nearly $21 million in campaign backing from the National Rifle Association) we can likely expect more of the same, unless we actually do something, as several of the students who were caught in the shooting yesterday begged us.
Student David Hogg who survived school shooting looks directly in camera, sends message to Trump and lawmakers: “Please, take action. Ideas are great… But what’s more important is actual action… saving thousands of children’s lives. Please, take action” https://t.co/jWPkZyoBfY pic.twitter.com/YpsgbBE6cX
— CNN (@CNN) February 15, 2018
The 18 school shootings this year, tallied by Everytown for Gun Safety, includes eight shootings where (fortunately) no one was injured, two suicides, and seven attacks resulting in injury or death. They happened at elementary schools, at high schools, and at colleges. And they clearly happened far too frequently.
The Gun Violence Archive, which keeps track of gun-related incidents, indicates that we've had 30 mass shootings as of yesterday. And Parkland—with 17 dead and 15 injured—is the biggest so far this year. We are only 46 days into the new year and already, 403 children have been injured or killed in gun violence. 403 children. That's every student at my daughter's K-6 elementary school—and then some.
This is not what the Founding Fathers were protecting with the Second Amendment. It perverts their intent if you try to argue that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would be on board with allowing people with mental illness, those who have committed domestic violence in the past, and anyone seeking to rack up a body count to go out and buy weapons capable of mowing down a crowd with dozens of rounds per minute. The weaponry they had would never allow for this kind of violence to happen.
Gun control doesn't mean wresting hunting rifles away from law-abiding citizens. It means ensuring that guns don't get into the hands of those with a violent or unstable history—and it means not allowing weapons suited for war. That, at least, would give those who are under attack a fighting chance, if only because the shooter had to stop to reload. We need to hold our representatives accountable—and let them know that taking no action on gun control is a one-way ticket to retirement.
Last night, I reminded my 13-year-old, yet again, about the advice I received from a security expert on how to escape from a violent incident. And I realize, yet again, how appalling it is that my sweet little girl is plotting out how she could take down a shooter or escape safely from her classroom's second story window. I am tired of writing these stories. I am tired of hoping and praying that this doesn't happen at my daughters' schools—and praying for the parents and the children at the schools where this happens, day after day after day after day. It's long past time to stop the madness.