I would normally post my weekend links post tonight, and in fact I have it all written and ready to go. But it seems almost obscene to put up a post with links to holiday gift guides when so many families in Connecticut are living one of my worst nightmares. My heart breaks into a thousand little pieces for them. There just aren't words to express my sorrow.
We do not
have the full story of what happened in that school and why, so I won't jump to conclusions.
But here's one thing I know for certain: the death toll would not be so high if the man who did
this didn't have access to a gun, particularly one capable of firing so many
I do not normally post about politics and current events. But I am done
with sitting silently on this one. It is time to stop pretending that
there is nothing we can do to prevent tragedies like this. There
is something we can
do. We can fix our gun laws. There is no great mystery about what we
here, just a lack of political will.
I am all for initiatives to improve mental health services. I am all for more research to help us understand and treat mental illnesses. But let's be frank: other countries have mental illness without quite so many mass shootings. There is nothing uniquely American about mental illness. There must be something unique to America that explains why we have more mass shootings than other countries, and I think it is pretty obvious what that is: our gun laws, or lack thereof.
Treating mental illness is necessarily complex, because the illnesses are themselves complex. Fixing our gun laws is only complex because we allow it to be.
I have family members who are hunters, and I work with a man who is a
gun enthusiast. They are all decent, rational people who I am sure are as
horrified as I am by this event. I am confident that if our society put
its collective minds together and made an honest effort to find a set
of gun regulations that would decrease the likelihood of events like
today's while still ensuring that hunters and gun enthusiasts could
safely engage in their hobbies, we could do it. I'm not sure what those regulations would be, but I know we could find them if all sides really wanted to have the conversation about how to fix this problem.
But we don't have that conversation,
because the extremists have taken over. The NRA has our politicians too scared to take on the
think the decent, rational people outnumber the extremists. But we've
kept quiet. It is time we spoke up. I am at a bit of a loss
about what to do to fix things, but I've
decided to at least make my opinion known. I'll be sending some letters, which I've copied below.
I was horrified by the news of the
Sandy Hook school shooting
today. I am sure you were, too. However, unlike me, you are in a
position to help
prevent such events. You have long made the argument that you oppose
all gun control because it is a "slippery slope"- to what, I don't
know. People like me coming and "taking away your guns" I guess.
I think you should consider another scenario, in which people
like me who own no guns get so disgusted by our inability to take even
small steps to prevent tragedies like today's that we foment a landslide
of change against you. We non-gun owners are currently a slim majority of
Americans (a Gallup poll (http://www.gallup.com/poll/150353/self-reported-gun-ownership-highest-1993.aspx) found that 51% of Americans have no gun in
their household). I'd be willing to wager that a fair number of the
people who do own guns would be open to restrictions, as long as they
could still pursue their hobbies, be they hunting or gun collecting. I
think that all it would take would
be someone with the willingness and savvy to organize us and the
impetus provided by an event like today's and we might be able to come
together and make you irrelevant. In fact, I think that given our
current trajectory of horrifying tragedy after horrifying tragedy, it is
only a matter of time until someone does find the correct formula to
organize a viable force to oppose you.
It doesn't have to be
that way. Let me state right now that I have absolutely no interest in "taking away
your guns." I have family and friends who are hunters and gun enthusiasts, and I want them to be able to continue to enjoy their hobby. I only have an interest in keeping people from using guns
to kill other people. I assume you are decent people and have the same
interest, but you do us all a disservice when you pretend that the easy
access to high-powered guns that we have in this country is not part of
the problem. You are correct when you point out that we are not
Europeans, and European solutions will not work here. But we can find an
American solution to this problem if we try.
I urge you-
no, I beg you- to step up and show true leadership on this issue. Let
it be known that you will no longer unleash attacks on any politician
who discusses gun control.
Work with those politicians to craft a workable solution that would
protect your members' rights without bargaining away innocent lives to
do so. Then explain to your members why these regulations are a good
thing, which actually help to protect their rights. I hope you will do
these things. But if you won't, then I hope that people like me figure
out how to successfully oppose before any more lives are lost. Change is
coming. Will you play a part in shaping that change, or will you fight it every step of the way and ultimately have to accept the change that the rest of us decide on for you?
Dear President Obama,
you, I am horrified by the news of the Sandy Hook school shootings today. Like
you, I have two beautiful young daughters, and I hugged them tighter tonight
because of this event. However, unlike me, you are in a position to help
prevent such events. I can understand why you have had to steer clear
of gun control until now, but I urge you to find a way to put this issue
on your second term agenda. Have faith in the American people to see
bullying tactics used by the NRA. To be
honest, I feel powerless in the face of the NRA's lobbying power, and that is wrong. Please give people like me a voice. If you take on this issue, I will do everything I can to support you and
politicians who join with you, and I will urge my friends to do the
Let's not just hug our children in response to terrible
events like this. Let's take action to help make all of our children
I will send a variation on the second letter to my congresspeople, too. I also plan to give to the Brady Center.
If anyone wants to join me, here is the address for the NRA:
National Rifle Association of America
11250 Waples Mill Road
Fairfax, VA 22030
Or if you have the stomach for the follow up emails, do it online here: https://www.nraila.org/secure/contact-us.aspx.
Here is President Obama's address:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Or you can send email via an online form: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments
There is a petition on WhiteHouse.gov that calls for a discussion
about gun laws. If you want to sign that, it takes only a few minutes to
create an account (they just need a name and an email address) and
Or if you want to try to improve mental health resources in this country, this link has a list of charities: