Dear President Obama, Speaker Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Reid,
Children symbolize what we hope for our future. When they are lost we lose what we hope to become.
My thoughts in these last hours, as I am sure each of your thoughts and those of people around in world, after reports of the tragic events this morning in Newtown are careening from imagining parents’ memories of sending their children off to school this morning to homes stacked with holiday presents that will never be opened–to teachers in that school that in a flash of panic put their lives on the line to protect their students–to frightened children holding hands in coat closets–to the first responders–to–to–to. Then back through all again.
We can never clear the path completely for our children. We can never stop them from ever scraping knees, from ever getting their heart broken, from ever making irrevocable mistakes–some small, some immense. It is the stuff of life, we all have family tragedies, we all have scars to count.
We also, however, never give up trying to clear that well worn path for our children. We hold their hands, we ask too many questions about their crushes, we give advice even when it’s not wanted. When we care for children we do every possible thing we can – despite all odds, despite all logic, despite the fact that we will never, ever be certain bad things won’t happen. We never stop because the dream of our future rests in them, because we are them, because why wouldn’t we.
Today, President Obama said exactly what many Americans are feeling tonight: “As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it is an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago, these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods and these children are our children. And we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”
These children are our children. We need to come together and take meaningful action.
Every year, close to 15,000 Americans are murdered, the vast majority are through gun violence. Recent CDC statistics show in 2009 of the 16,799 nationwide homicides in one year, approximately 70% were firearm homicides. The same hold true in 2011 preliminary data. Fifteen mass shootings happened in 2012 alone. Gun violence goes beyond murder, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence calculates that from 2009-2011 an average of nearly 100,000 people per year died or were injured by firearms. Approximately 20,000 of those who died or were injured were children.
These children are our children. As are these young adults. These adults.
I urge you as leaders, and urge your respective branches of government, to lead this nation in healing and to lead this nation in taking meaningful action. We cannot keep all harm from our children, but we also do not stop trying just because it seems hard to do. Please urgently pass reasonable and necessary gun control laws to protect US citizens and their families. You would join other public leaders, such as the 700 Mayors from cities around the country who make up the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition, in reducing gun violence.
All things are possible in the eyes of a child. We must aim to live up to those possibilities. We must take our charge seriously and bravely.
Update for post readers: Here is a petition on WhiteHouse.gov that someone started that has been quickly gaining signatures. Consider lending your voice.