Every school shooting, like the recent, tragic event in Oregon, immediately makes parents of students frantic, worried, and desperate for information, waiting interminable minutes or hours, not knowing if their son or daughter is dead or alive.
My teenage daughters haven’t faced a gunman rampaging through their school, buy they are more likely to die from gun violence than any other cause except car accidents according to Center for Disease Control data.
The ways guns injure and kill children and teens is like a cookbook for tragedy. Accidental shootings, random shootings, bystander shootings, mass shootings, suicide, and homicide are all different variations on the same dish — kids killed with guns.
From their birth, I’ve tried to make my daughters’ world safer for them, using cabinet locks so they couldn’t get at household cleaners or outlet covers so little fingers didn’t connect with electricity, teaching them how to safely cross a street, making them wear bicycle helmets, and making them take driver’s education so they’ll know how to handle a car. At each stage of their lives, keeping away dangers they weren’t ready to handle and preparing them for the risks they were starting to take has been part of my job.
My city, state, and the federal government all pitch in, posting crossing guards at intersections near my daughters’ schools, requiring car seats for them as — all to keep my children safe.
Not guns though. Parents who happen to be legislators and lobbyists shirk their responsibility to their own and all children by failing to pass measured, considered laws and regulations regarding gun ownership. Parents who own guns often fail their children too. Unsafe access to a gun in the home is a leading cause of death among U.S. children and teens, according the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
In every way, guns are a parenting issue. Guns impact every aspect of my daughters’ world — their education, their religious observance, their future relationships, their employment. The availability of guns eats up money, time, and resources that would otherwise provide more teachers, easier transportation, safer homes, and more effective police forces.
I need to protect my children from gun violence. Buying a gun won’t do it. Only reasonable, thoughtful regulation of guns and their ownership — through steps such as mandatory background checks and waiting periods, a national gun registry, and leaving military-style weapons to our soldiers — will do it and won’t violate anyone’s constitutional rights. The only rights being trampled on are my children’s right to have safe streets to walk on, safe schools to attend, safe movie theaters to enjoy, and a safe country to live in.
After each school tragedy I think of the parents, those that are grieving and those who have faced their darkest nightmares and, thankfully, still have their child to hold. I hope never to face this situation but, really, no parent should have to.