All of us moms—gun owners or not—need to work together to find a solution to the gun problem if we want to keep our kids safe.
Of all the issues we deal with as moms, making sure we keep our kids safe and healthy when we send them to school every day probably ranks number one. That means making sure they have a good lunch to eat and a jacket when it’s cold outside. It means making sure they know how to deal with bullying. And it means doing our best to make sure they aren’t going to be shot while they are in history class.
That’s right, I’m going there. We moms need to talk about guns. Whether you are a responsible gun owner, have never held a gun in your life, or somewhere in between (that’s me), I bet we all agree that kids shouldn’t be dying at school.
Even in light of the staggering incidence of gun violence we see on the news every day, many here in Arizona and across the country continue to vehemently defend their Second Amendment right to bear arms as fundamental, expansive, and unlimited. They see any attempt to limit gun ownership or possession in any way—whether it’s background checks or waiting periods or restrictions on military-style assault rifles—as an affront to their personal liberty. For every policy idea that could potentially save lives, they seem to have a response as to why it won’t work.
Why I believe arming our teachers isn’t the solution…
Instead, they want us to arm our teachers. To that I simply say, no. First, expecting teachers to take on an active shooter without significant emergency response and firearms training is an unreasonable thing to ask of people who simply want to educate our children. Many teachers are understandably bristling, and experienced veterans have spoken out about what a tremendously bad and dangerous idea this is. I’m inclined to listen to them. Second, we have plenty of examples of armed security being present at the scene of a shooting, from the armed Sheriff’s deputy in Parkland who stayed outside despite hearing gunshots to the armed security guards at the Mandalay Bay to Fort Hood—an actual military base. In none of those scenarios did having “good guys with guns” stop the bad guy with the gun.
As a mom, I’m not interested in seeing my child’s teacher armed to the teeth in case an active shooter shows up in his classroom. As a mom, I’d rather make sure an active shooter doesn’t show up in his classroom in the first place.
There is no question that we have thousands of responsible gun owners across the country. I am sensitive to the argument that law-abiding citizens should not be “punished” for the illegal acts of others. But that is not a reason to do nothing.
Opponents of gun control measures claim that this has nothing to do with guns, and that gun restrictions are just an attempt to ban all guns and confiscate them from law-abiding citizens. (It’s not.) They want us to look literally everywhere else, except at the guns.
Why I believe we need to look at the guns…
But we are facing an epidemic of gun violence in this country, so we need to look at the guns. While mass shootings are often the most publicized, gun violence is not limited to the mass shootings we see on television. Every day hundreds of people—kids and adults alike—are dying in schools, movie theaters, restaurants, and their homes. It’s happening in mass shootings of course, but also at the hands of domestic abusers, in random acts of violent crime, and by suicide. While restrictions on guns will not end gun violence, they are a step in the right direction. They will do something.
Despite what some gun enthusiasts and the NRA argue, the Second Amendment does not say that we can’t impose restrictions on guns. The Second Amendment protects an individual “right to bear arms,” but that right is not unlimited. Like other provisions in the Constitution—including the First Amendment, which protects our right to free speech and assembly—governments may lawfully restrict the rights protected by the Second Amendment. They just have to make sure they have a compelling reason to do it, and that any restrictions are narrowly targeted to solving a specific problem.
I can think of no more compelling a reason to restrict guns than the epidemic of gun violence we are currently experiencing in the United States. Placing targeted restrictions on guns, gun accessories, and/or the process for buying them—including raising the age limit to purchase guns, mandatory background checks and waiting periods, restrictions on certain types of military-style assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, banning certain types of accessories like silencers and bump stocks, and even creating a new process for something called a “gun violence restraining order”—can surely be done in a way that is sufficiently targeted to pass constitutional muster. As Senator Marco Rubio recently said when addressing survivors of the mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, these types of measures may not prevent an attack, but they will save lives. I think that sounds like a pretty good place to start.
What can we do to keep our kids safe?
We all need to be part of the conversation, whether we own guns or not. We need to advocate for solutions. If you care about this issue—and every mom should care—contact your elected leaders and tell them what you think. Attend an informational or educational event. Donate money to an organization working on the problem, like Everytown for Gun Safety or Giffords.
We also need to make sure that our homes, and any homes our children visit, are safe. The American Academy of Pediatrics has advised that the safest home for children is one that has no guns and that, if there are guns in the home, the risk of injury or death is significantly decreased with safe storage. We need to ask the parents of our kids’ friends whether they keep guns in their homes and, if so, how they are stored. These are difficult questions and difficult conversations, but doing the right thing is rarely easy.
Most importantly, when the next election cycle rolls around, if we believe a change needs to be made we need to vote for people who are prepared to do something about gun violence by enacting policies that will move the needle, at the State Legislature and in Congress. While no single policy is going to solve this problem, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t push our leaders to make incremental progress by solving pieces of it. This is not a partisan issue and tackling it should not be too much to ask of our elected representatives—Republicans and Democrats alike. If we have any hope of saving our kids, we must elect leaders that have the courage to make a change.
Do you share my concerns? Do you have ideas about what we can do, or do you just want to talk to about it a little more? Are you interested in participating in a larger, ideas-and-action-oriented conversation about ways to get involved? Are you still unsure where you come down, or do you disagree with me? Whatever your opinion, I’d love to hear from you! Let’s continue the conversation.