I can’t seem to stay quiet about the shootings in Newtown. It’s weighed heavily on my heart since I first heard about it when we got off the plane in Florida. Every day I watch the news and see the faces of those children. I love to hear about them and the lives they had. How innocent and simple their lives were. I love Emilie’s blue eyes. Daniel’s missing two front teeth. Jessica’s love of Orca whales. Jack’s love of the NY Giants. Catherine’s red hair. How Chase completed his first triathlon at age 6. How Ana never walked, she danced. Their stories make me smile and cry. I’ve cried every day for them since they were murdered. I cry for their parents. I hope I never know what their loss is like. I wish there was something I could do to bear some of their grief for them. It seems an impossible load for someone to carry.
I am going to say something that some might find offensive but I am still going to say it. I am mad at the shooters Mom. Really, really mad. Here is why. That mother knew her child was mentally unstable. I have no doubt she tried to find an outlet that would help her child. She foolishly thought the solution was to teach him how to use guns. A friend of hers told the press that she wanted him to know how to be safe with guns. Why? Why would she even have guns in a home with a child who has mental instability? As a mother of a child with special needs I can assure you I will never have guns in my home. It would be ludicrous. I don’t know what Jackson is going to be like when he is 20. Hell, I don’t even know what Jackson is going to be like in a year. But because he is a child who may or may not fully understand his actions and behavior, I would never risk having a dangerous weapon in my home. For his own safety, and for others. This woman had an arsenal of weapons. What was she thinking? Why? I just don’t get it. To me, regardless of the difficulty and grief she faced over her son’s condition (whatever that may be), she was irresponsible. That irresponsibility not only cost her her own life, but the lives of 26 innocent people.
Meanwhile, I hear all these debates on the news channels about gun control. I see posts on Facebook about what my friends think should be done. Here’s my two cents. I grew up around guns. My Dad had a shotgun, he was a hunter. He even used to have a machine that loaded his shells and I would help him. He also had a handgun in his nightstand next to his bed. I had a BB gun when I was little and my Dad and I would shoot cans and trees. We would go skeet shooting. I never particularly cared for any of it, but my Dad liked to do it and I liked to hang out with my Dad. Having said that, I feel we need to get weapons of war off the streets. Why does anyone need a semi-automatic weapon? Why does anyone need guns with high capacity magazines? No one does. No one NEEDS it. They may want it, but they don’t need it. I’m all for people owning their guns, but there needs to be some kind of control on what kind of guns people can own. I know some of you may feel like you should be able to own any gun you want. That’s a valid point. But is your right to own a weapon of war more important than the lives of 20 children? I don’t think it is. As far as letting teachers carry guns, that idea makes me sick to my stomach. As a former teacher I would never want a gun in my school. What happens if a teacher hears something she thinks is gunfire? She hides her children in the classroom, looks down the hall and fires at the first thing coming around the corner. What if that thing coming around the corner was a child? She just killed a child. You hear stories like that all the time. Just a couple of months ago a father shot his son when he came home late at night because he thought he was an intruder. Besides, in my opinion, countering violence with violence is not a solution. That age old saying “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is ignorance in my opinion. I can guarantee you if the Newtown shooter walked into the school carrying a knife 20 mothers and fathers wouldn’t be burying their babies this week. Their babies wouldn’t have died with anywhere between 2-11 bullets in their body. Those guns killed those children and the adults who tried to save them. Most importantly, our attitude towards people with mental disabilities needs to change. These shooters tend to share a common trait, they had some kind of mental instability. Why didn’t they have better access to care? Why do these people fall through the cracks? Where are the services they need to stay safe and cared for? Maybe if the NRA stopped spending millions on lobbying politicians and spent their money on lobbying for mental health care we would have a safer country. The problem is overwhelming and contentious.
For now, I will stop what I am doing every time I hear a story of one of the Newtown victims on TV or read one in the paper. I will listen to what their life was like and how much they meant to those who loved them. I will cry for their lost life. Then I will give Jackson a hug, a big hug, and thank him for bringing me so much joy. I will treasure what I have. Something we should all be doing, every day.