When my daughter was little, we had this terrific pediatrician. Every year, in addition to checking her height and weight and overall health, he would talk to her. He asked her questions like ...
"Do you have a bike? Do you always wear your helmet when you ride it?"
When she was about six, he asked her about playdates.
"Have any of your friends ever shown you a gun?"
I think I snickered and the doctor turned to me. "You'd be surprised," he said. "There are more guns around than you might think." He proceeded to explain that when he first joined the practice in our town, he visited the police department and asked them how many gun permits our community had. The officer on duty didn't know, but promised to look into it. 'Turns out the number surprised them both.
"Let's just say," explained the officer, when he called a few days later, "If we're ever invaded? We'll win."
Here's what the pediatrician told my daughter. "If any of your friends ever says, 'You want to see my daddy's gun?' you say that you don't feel good and need to call your mom to pick you up."
I thought this was brilliant advice. But, I also thought it was unnecessary.
Now, I'm not so sure.
I grew up in midtown Manhattan. As an adult, I moved to a tiny town up the coast from Boston. The kind of community where you know your neighbors, people leave their doors unlocked, and you're perfectly safe walking around at 3:00 a.m. (I don't know why you would since nothing is open after 10:00 p.m., but you'd be safe if you did.)
Starting a family, living in this quiet place reassured me. I always assumed that I was keeping my beloved child out of harm's way.
So did a friend of my sister's. An actress from New York, she thought her children would be safer outside the city. So they moved. To Newtown, Connecticut.
That horrific tragedy should have been an anomaly. But, there have been 74 school shootings since Newtown. 74. The unspeakable has become common occurrence. Of course, there are those who refuse to acknowledge that statistic. Apparently a shooting on school property but out in the parking lot shouldn't count. Neither should an incident when only adults and not students are killed. Or when the shooter commits suicide.
Really? I'm so sick of the gun manufacturers, lobbyists and enthusiasts (all those people who are "packing and proud of it") using Orwellian doublespeak — and their utter refusal to help address this. So is every mother I know.
"The right to bear arms" is a man-made maxim. The second amendment was a response to the British government forbidding the colonies to form an armed militia. It was 240 years ago and the arms in question were muskets and rifles, not automatic weapons.
Even if you want to uphold that archaic bit of the Constitution (which is supposed to promote life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, all of which, I would argue, are threatened by the proliferation of guns), why not add some civilized level of control like background checks, waiting periods and gun-free zones (children's playgrounds, for a start).
I'm tired of the NRA holding our country — and especially our children — hostage. And, I'm not alone. Take a minute and watch.
I encourage every person who reads this to do something about it right now. Join one of the many organizations trying to affect gun reform. Contact your Congressperson, Senator, the President or Vice President. If enough of us do, maybe they will listen.
After all, most of them are parents too.