No Title

I don’t expect to rise above all the chatter about the tragedy in Connecticut. I hesitate to add to it, because something about Facebook and blogs and Twitter takes away from the realness, the seriousness, the timelessness of a tragedy like this, of the loss of twenty babies I don’t know and haven’t seen but want to wrap my arms around even all these miles away. The president was right: these are our children.

And a large part of me, unlike in any other tragedy in recent memory save 9/11, feels the need to speak my piece in honor of these babies and the teachers who died trying to save them. Because otherwise, there’s silence over here. And there’s no truer story than what happened on Friday. And there’s no greater cause than children.

There’s a lot of information, misinformation, and statistics being thrown around, and who knows what the end story will be. But we know that twenty babies woke up on Friday morning, like your children did today. Twenty children got dressed for school, maybe thinking about their Christmas lists, and many parents already have those presents waiting, hidden high on a closet shelf.

You can, and should, blame the lack of mental health care in this country. You can, and should, blame the lack of gun safety among some gun owners. You can, and should, blame the absence of laws that require gun registration or laws that prohibit certain types of guns (such as those that have the word “assault” in their name). We are the most violent industrialized country in the world. The most violent. We failed those children in Connecticut.

The following excerpt from an interview Friday on CNN with former Assistant FBI Director Tom Fuentes struck me, and I’d like you to read it. Afterward, you can decide what to do:

BLITZER: You’ve been involved in law enforcement your whole life. Is there anything we can learn from this and move forward to try to make sure it doesn’t happen again? 

FUENTES: No.

BLITZER (pausing, seemingly taken aback by the blunt answer): It’s going to happen again?

FUENTES: It’s going to happen again. We don’t change anything of the basics. We don’t — we haven’t made the improvements to our mental health system to take care of people that are severely disturbed. We haven’t done anything to prevent the severely disturbed from obtaining the weapons that are so prevalent in our society. So as long as you have disturbed people able to obtain weapons and act out with those weapons —

BLITZER: Because a lot of folks, immediately as soon as they hear this, they’ll say, you know, that guns are too — assault weapons, guns, are too available, too easy to get.

FUENTES: Well, what they say — what we say now is we can’t talk about it. Everybody is in mourning. It’s too soon, it’s not appropriate. So at the time, later, when it is appropriate, we don’t care. And nothing changes.

I had a daughter at Virginia Tech down the hall from the first shooting, the first two people that were killed in that dorm, 10 rooms away. So that hit home for me very closely. What’s changed since then? Not one thing in the state of Virginia has changed. I don’t expect much will change here. 

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11 thoughts on “No Title

  1. Thanks, Jess. I am beginning to believe that women have to take this issue on. Gun control first. Think what Mothers Against Drunk Driving have been able to do—so many lives have been saved because of their awareness campaigns and their lobbying for laws and enforcement. Mothers and Grandmothers Against Gun Violence–I know you can improve on the name but the idea has merit. Now is the time.

  2. Thanks for posting this, Jessica. It’s true—the conversation needs to happen now. All our hearts go out to those children and teachers, and something needs to change to help prevent this tragedy in the future. It needs to change now.

  3. Jessica, we need to do something today, not tomorrow and I agree with Susan…we women need to get some control of this …. Who better to run the campaign for gun control and better mental health care than mothers and grandmothers along with all of us women in the mental health profession….when do we start?

    • Organization is the hardest part of any campaign. There are groups out there working hard already; and I think as individuals, we can call our reps (it takes 5 minutes) or write a letter to the editor (10 min). Contribute to the right organizations. Create your own. Just do SOMETHING.

  4. I agree that there needs to be something done about our gun laws. I am a gun owner, husband and father of 2. I own two of the guns that were used in this weeks shootings, an AR-15 and a 9mm, and my wife has a 9mm. We both have out concealed carry license. There is no reason for a person to have a fully automatic weapon, or to have a magazine that holds over 30 rounds unless you are in the military. The word “Assault” can be used for any weapon that holds a clip, even a bolt action hunting rifle. An “Assault Rifle” gets a bad wrap because of the design, not the caliber of bullet that it shoots. The ban on a certain type of weapon is like banning “Pit Bulls” because of their bread. The laws that need to be changed are: if an individual wants to sell a weapon, it needs to be through a licensed gun shop. An individual that wants to have a gun license, needs to own a business shop (not out of the house) to sell out of. It is to easy to get a gun dealers license (most of them do it to buy fully automatic weapons). The government or states need to have a better way of tracking were weapons are and who is buying and who is selling. The punishment for possession of an unlicensed weapon should be harsh, with that weapon being destroyed. That would deter people from not registering a weapon. Make every person who wants to own a weapon take a safety class. You have to realize that a criminal will find a way to get a weapon, legal or illegal, so allow people to defend themselves from those type of people. I want to protect my two boys at a store if someone tries to harm them. Allow people at work places to have a weapon locked up to stop someone. If there wold have been a gun in the principals office, maybe she could have stopped him? Putting guns in the right hands is what needs to be done, not taking them away. If I want to hurt someone, or a mass of people, I will either use a gun, knife, rope or my bare hands. You can’t make laws to stop this from happening, you can allow (arm) people to stop it before the numbers increase. Guns don’t kill people….people kill people.

    • James, thanks for responding. I’m glad you’re part of the conversation. I agree with your gun law proposals and I understand that you want to protect your children. There’s merit, I think, to the idea that the “right people” could have guns. It’s true–if the principal had been trained and armed, she possibly could have stopped him. The thought is appealing. It’s a complicated issue and I just wonder if we want to have guns in school–is that what our society is about? Do we want teachers to carry guns? What’s the next step–bank tellers, grocery clerks, bus drivers, movie theater workers? I don’t like to picture that world, either, just as I don’t like the idea of a madman committing mass murder. So how would we draw the line?

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