I am so angry and heartbroken about the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and I feel like anything I write on this silly blog risks minimizing the tragedy somehow. And I don’t want to do that. But I just have to say a couple things.
First, I was equal parts relieved and disturbed when I saw a police car stationed outside my kindergartner’s school at pick-up today. It has really come to this. My mom taught K-12 for decades, in lovely, quiet communities, probably like Newtown, and has said that schools should have metal detectors with loud alarms at the doors. Before I had kids I thought that was a little extreme – today, it seems perfectly reasonable. Second, I hugged my kindergartner and my almost-kindergartner so, so, so tight today, and none of the other things I wanted to do this afternoon mattered at all. And third, as I am typing this, there is some effing ridiculous show on TLC about a bunch of women in Vegas having a “gun shooting party” at a shooting range. And they are in stilettos and have cleavage up to their chins and clearly think they look really hot shooting guns. YOU DON’T.
You’ve heard it all before, but I’ll say it again: we have a sick obsession with guns and violence in this country and our politicians don’t have the balls to address it. Immediately after I heard about the shooting, I heard lots of public figures saying, “This is not the time to talk politics.” This language about “politicizing tragedy” has now become the routine, acceptable way of ignoring our deadly gun problem, and preventing any sort of impassioned rhetoric about it, and sweeping the initial hard feelings under the rug. But I think Lisa Belkin at HuffPo said it beautifully — talking about gun control right now, in the wake of this unthinkable tragedy, while parents in Newtown are still waiting for good news that will never come about their little, soft-skinned, bright-eyed children, is our obligation as parents. It’s a matter of keeping our kids safe. If I was in Newtown and knew these families and this school, I would physically be out there helping in every way I could. But I’m not. So I am going to try to do what I hope some other mom would do if, god forbid, this happened in my neighborhood. I want to take some “meaningful action,” to use Obama’s words. And while I’m glad to hear Obama talk about “meaningful action,” I don’t trust any politician – even one I happen to be a big fan of – to follow through. They’ve buried their heads in the sand for too long.
But I do trust other moms and dads, who physically ache right now from the devastation they are hearing about, to do something. So, just as a first step, I found the We Are Better Than This campaign, started by the Brady Campaign just days after the horrific shooting in Aurora, Colorado. They’ve set up the website now so you can send condolences to the families in Newtown. And the Brady Campaign’s website has lots of information about current and proposed gun legislation, as well as a way to find your local chapter and take some action. Getting educated is the first step I’m going to take, just because I don’t know what else to do, but I know I have to do something. And if you want to get good and fired up, I’d suggest this New Yorker article and this New Yorker article and this Slate article. This quote from Amy Davidson at The New Yorker devastates me, and makes me want to do something: “How do we find ourselves asking kindergarteners to be more courageous in the face of a gunman than politicians are in the face of the gun lobby?”
While some of the immediate responses to today’s shooting felt horribly familiar and scripted, at the same time this feels a little different – like the outrage is more raw, more angry, more proactive. Like people want to fix this. I hope I’m right.