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Dec
15
2012

On Friday morning, my husband and I were stressed. He needed to catch his train. The kids were playing, instead of brushing their teeth, throwing on jackets and heading out the door. The cars were in the wrong place. I needed to take the Jeep. It was blocked by the minivan.

We were short with each other. We were frustrated.

Within a few hours, Newtown had happened.  Everything else faded away.

20 children murdered. Probably about the same age as my daughters.

We will soon see the innocent faces of these young victims. And the grief will be overwhelming.  Heroic teachers undoubtedly saved lives in Newtown. But so many grieving families. Lives completely shattered. For no reason at all.

And it happened at a school that has more security than the elementary school where I send my children.

By chance, my elementary school had a test of their emergency evacuation procedures today. As all of our kids filed out of the school, there was an eerie quiet. I’m sure very few if any of the children knew about what had happened. But the adults knew and you could feel it.

We  took our children home. Yes, we had the privilege of taking our children home.

I kept it together all day. Until I heard about a little boy in Newtown who had to be told that his sister had died. “Now I will have no one to play with,” he reportedly said. And my tears began to fall. And they kept pouring down.

We will remember these beautiful children. We will remember the principal and other adults who left families behind. But nothing we can do will bring them back. And that is agonizing.

And yes, it is time to talk about gun control. We live in an incredibly violent society where more than 30,000 people are killed each year in the U.S. because of gun violence. Among 23, high-income countries, 80% of all firearm deaths occur in the United States. Guns can be sold in the U.S. without a background check to screen out criminals or the mentally ill. Where there are more guns, there are more gun deaths.

We only have to look at other countries to see that gun control works.

The violence in the U.S. won’t stop until we demand it.

I demand it.

I feel so lucky tonight. Lucky to tuck four children into bed. To feel like I could protect them. Even if I know in my heart, I really can’t.

Source of gun statistics: Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

34 Responses to heartbroken for newtown

  • Karen says:

    I didn’t fully lose it until I saw Diane Sawyer interviewing a 1st grade teacher who huddled all of her students into a small bathroom, and not knowing whether the gunman was coming for them next, told all the children that she loved them very much, because she wanted that to be the last thing they heard, if indeed they were all about to die.

  • J says:

    After what happened in Oregon and now this… I may not be religious but I will pray for the victims and survivors tonight.

  • Lizz says:

    I live in New Milford, CT…about 15 minutes from Newtown. The school I work at…actually, all the surrounding area schools were put on lockdown. I had no clue the severity of this until I had the privilege to get my daughter from her preschool class. And even now, almost 24 hours later, I still cannot fathom WHY these babies were killed. My heart is broken for the families. My heart is broken that the hoards of Christmas gifts will be shoved away, never to be opened. When I was a kid, Christmas time was a time of love, happiness, and certainly not fear. Now there have been two mass shootings in one week. You’re right, something needs to be done. And not just with gun control.

  • Leigh Ann says:

    I was pretty numb all day, knowing how lucky I was to have my 3 throwing play doh all over the kitchen. I didn’t lose it until I went to check on them and I couldn’t stop crying over their sleeping bodies. So much we take for granted.

  • Grams says:

    Everyone’s talking about the weapon. But I don’t hear mention of the level of violence on TV and in movies. What about the steady diet of the super gruesome video games where death is the objective. There is no value placed on life. And the kids are being raised on this poison. We’re the kids just targets to the shooter? Very sad.

  • Steph says:

    My heart goes out to all those families who have lost their loved ones. It is an awful, awful truth to know that, although we try so hard to protect our babies, we can’t always do so.

  • Amy K says:

    The problem with gun control is it only controls the guns accessible to the law abiding citizens. It doesn’t stop criminals from illegally obtaining guns. So what you do then, it take away the ability of those who follow the law to protect themselves from those who don’t. And since when has any criminal followed the law? Our prisons are full of people who thought that the law didn’t apply to them. Taking away yet another constitutional right for the law abiding won’t change what happened nor will it stop it from happening again. Unfortunately, what we need is to put morals and God back into our schools. Teach kids that everything is not OWED to them and that – here’s a shocker- they might actually have to WORK for what they want.

    Israel doesn’t have problems with school shootings either. Maybe because all of their teachers are armed?

    As a mom of 5, I wanted to bring all my babies home last night and hug them. Of course, they’re 17-27 now and would have scorned at the thought. I think every parent in the world wants to protect not only their children but every child from having something like this happen. God be with us all if we can’t find a way to fix the way we’re headed…

    Shea Reply:

    The thing is, the guns used in this shooting were obtained legally. The guns used by the Virginia Tech shooter were also obtained legally, even after a judge declared him in court to be a likely danger to himself and others. He never received inpatient psychiatric treatment and so he was able to buy a gun. That should not have happened. In the VAST majority of mass murders, guns were obtained completely legally. Ordinary citizens have no business owning assault rifles. In the U.K. many policemen don’t even carry guns, and their rate of gun violence is significantly lower than ours. The idea that owning a gun will protect you is also mostly false. There have been studies that show you are more likely to be killed by your own gun than defend yourself. I assume if you have guns in your home, you would keep them locked up. You think that if a criminal takes you by surprise, breaks in, they’ll give you time to go unlock your gun cabinet? I’m tired of hearing that gun control is “taking away” a constitutional right. First of all, the second amendment was written in 1791 after the revolutionary war, intended to give us a feeling of protection against government tyranny. The way people apply it today is completely divorced from its original intention. I’m certain the founding fathers never imagined weapons as devastating as assault rifles when they wrote this amendment. Times change, technology develops, the constitution was intended to be a living document, not a static one. Arming teachers is not the answer. Fixing the messed up way our country deals with mental health, and not allowing absolutely anyone who wants to the ability to purchase a gun is. Also for someone who is so concerned about constitutional rights, I’m surprised you’re advocating bringing “God back into our schools,” when that also violates constitutional rights, at least in public schools.

    Lauren Reply:

    Amen to that. Well put!

    Shea Reply:

    Thank you, Lauren. There was a time I wouldn’t have said anything — I’m not a confrontational person. But that time is over. 20 children are dead by guns purchased legally. Guns we all just allowed to be handed to someone. That is not ok.

    suburbancorrespondent Reply:

    Such a simple thing, to ban all semi-automatics. And, yes, take back (with appropriate monetary compensation) any previously purchased ones (the horror!). Guns might not kill people, but they sure as heck make it EASIER to kill MORE people. No hunter needs a semi-automatic. And no gun owner who is actually competent with a handgun should need a semi-automatic to defend himself.

    Penny Reply:

    Shea, thank you for your comments, I agree wholeheartedly-this is just too much.

    Amy K Reply:

    No, I don’t keep my guns locked up. I keep them setting right by me so if someone walks thru my door to rob me or hurt me, there is a pit bull and a loaded weapon (actually 4 of them throughout the house) ready to fire. They don’t do me any good locked up. Kids in this area are taught that if you shoot something – you eat it and are taught gun safety from the time they’re old enough to walk. I have coyotes, bobcats, rattlers, water moccasins, and wolves roaming around my property with the occasional panther – I’m not giving up my guns to anyone to let these wild animals attack myself or my domestic animals.

    Let’s look at Israel. All the teachers are armed. They don’t have school shootings over there. The teachers can shoot back. Criminals do NOT obey gun laws. Criminals are criminals because they don’t obey the law. Period. No amount of creating new laws is not going to change this. All gun laws do is take away the ability of citizens to defend themselves. That shooting wouldn’t have happened in our little town- because the citizens and the high school kids themselves are armed. Number of people killed when waiting for law enforcement to come in a shooting avg 18.3. Avg number of people killed when a citizen can shoot back 2.2.

    Shea Reply:

    Israel is not the example you think it is:

    “Personal weapons are more difficult to come by in Israel. A lot of vetting is done by the government, the police, a doctor, and the gun range that must train and test the potential gun owner before they, too, sign their approval. And the Israeli government prefers to limit gun licenses to those with army experience, if possible.

    Even then, one normally is permitted to only own one gun, and a limited amount of ammunition (although one can buy as many bullets as one wishes at the gun range). Some admittedly feel that the single gun limit, is too restrictive.

    Appearances aside, in Israel there are fewer personal weapons per capita, and fewer homicides involving guns, than in the U.K., which has very strong and restrictive gun laws.” (http://www.jewishpress.com/ind.....012/12/16/)

    No one is trying to “take away our constitutional rights.” There is literally no way that we would get rid of all guns, and that’s perfectly fine. All I’m asking is for some sensible regulations. “Children ages 5 to 14 in America are 13 times as likely to be murdered with guns as children in other industrialized countries, according to David Hemenway, a public health specialist at Harvard who has written an excellent book on gun violence.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12.....-this.html) This is not ok. Just because you think your gun makes you safe, doesn’t mean you are. Everyone feels safe until they aren’t. It is a fact, supported by extensive research, that having a gun in your home is more dangerous than not having one. You, personally, have been safe so far — that doesn’t mean you are safer.

    Grams Reply:

    Well said Amy K. But I agree it would be crazy to arm teachers and it may help to have a ban on assault weapons, but gun control will never solve the problem of violence in society. Is it possible that the UK has a lower rate of gun violence because they do have God in their state-run schools. My 3 grandchildren in London hear about God and morality as part of their education. Nativity plays are the highlight of the year. As I see it, the key problems at the root of such violence is the absence of moral training, the horrible state of mental health care, and the violence the kids are fed in the media and video games.

    I can’t agree that the Constitution is a living document. Do you suppose our country would have survived 200+ years if it were subject to the whims and cultural changes of every age in our history.

    Shea Reply:

    Please don’t trivialize this subject. Banning mentally ill people from purchasing assault rifles is hardly a “whim.” Amendments have been made to the Constitution throughout history, and a country that cannot change with the times is a country that will not survive.

    Amy K Reply:

    What the president is proposing is taking away our constitutional rights. Yet another one.

    What we need is God back in our schools. To teach kids morals and that they don’t deserve to have every whim met with no work. To have parents actually step up and make their little monsters behave and teach them right from wrong.

  • Kerri says:

    I am so glad I live in Canada! I have been to the states fairly often, my oldest takes our younger kids even more often (we only live 10 mins from the border) but I feel like I cannot let my guard down when I am there. I don’t feel “safe”. We went to the movies & there was an armed Police Officer at the door. My kids were shocked! Well…so was I! I was at a lovely farmer’s market in Maddison WI, looking over some lovely organic greens (there for my brother’s wedding as he married an American) when the gentleman beside me, in his nice 3 piece suit, reached for an item. I glanced over to see a gun strapped into a brown leather holster he had slung over his shoulder, but hidden under his jacket until he reached for the item. I could suddenly hear my heart pounding in my ears & I was truly afraid. I couldn’t live like that on a daily basis. Canada does have guns, but hand guns are only carried by Police or Security. As citizens we are NOT allowed hand-guns. We have a registry in the making for rifles that are used for hunting & farmers use them for protection. The farmers in our area have them as we have wolves & coyotes. So when the farmers are out at night tending to their livestock they use the rifles as protection. It is hunting season right now as well, but there are VERY strict regulations on their use. I am afraid of guns & didn’t even have toy ones in my house as a kid as my mom was shot in the arm with a beebee gun. Her brother was not as lucky & was shot in the eye & had to have it replaced with a glass eye. He would tell the kids..”Don’t play with guns”, & then he would pop out his eye! When I was quite young I witnessed another kid shove small rocks & sand into an air gun by jabbing it into a pile on the ground. I had no idea what was going on. The kid then put it to my cousin’s ear & pulled the trigger. My cousin screamed, grabbed his ear & fell to the ground in pain. Then blood started oozing between his fingers. I ran to my aunt & uncle’s house screaming & freaking out. They called an ambulance. My cousin lost all hearing in that ear. My kids didn’t have guns in the house either. Mind you the boys would make them out of their toast, lego, k-nex, etc. They always told me…”Don’t worry mom, it is not for killing. It is a tranquiler gun to just put things to sleep!” Sigh….

    I cannot even imagine the pain of losing a child to such incredible violence. I mourn for the children and for their families and friends & community who are left to grieve this tragedy. Only the strength of others to stand up for gun laws will be able to remedy it.

    No matter what there will be mental illness, but in countries where it is much more difficult to get ahold of a gun these people cause issues, but rarely resulting in death. It is just too easy & to kill not only one, but MANY in one foul swoop :(.

  • Susan Kintner says:

    You captured all our feelings…so sad, so unnecessary, so tragic. A beautiful post. love, mom

  • Sarka says:

    Gun control will never happen in the US because of the power/lobby of the arms industry.

    Here in the Czech Republic person applies for the gun license at the police. If the conditions of age, qualification (requires passing written and oral exam, mainly concentrated on the legislation about guns and first aid, as well as passing the shooting test), health clearance (from the applicant’s general practitioner that they are physically and mentally fit to own and carry gun), criminal integrity and personal reliability (a person, who excessively drinks alcohol or uses illegal drugs, as well who was repeatedly found guilty of one of specified misdemeanors in the preceding three years, is considered unreliable for the purposes of issuing a gun licence) are met and a fee is paid, the license is issued in 30 days. The license must be renewed every five years.

    For different categories of guns you must have a specific gun license and there are rules for where you can have/use your gun: home, shooting ranges, hunting places, … All guns need to be registered in 10 days after buying.

  • Kira says:

    As a human and a teacher I mourn and pray for those left behind. I’ve stepped into fights etc. and stood in a doorway to stop a teen who wanted to ‘get’ his ex-girlfriend, but I’m in the UK… the worst that I’ve even gotten is punched.

    I know it is not my country but there was one school shooting in the UK… and handguns were banned. Only farmers etc have rifles and they are licenced very strictly. Yes there are illegal guns on the street, but I have no fear that I’m going to be shot when I work.

    The idea of unopened presents and all those funerals…. may God have mercy on all those families and Kelcey I pray rest to you and yours (as well as secret number 5) in this time.

  • Susan says:

    I feel a profound sense of grief and anger about what happened on Friday and I am hoping and praying that a movement swells up to really get some meaningful change in our gun laws. I plan to call every rep and senator in my state tomorrow to ask them if they are going to support stricter gun laws. But, like many other people, I want to do more.


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