I wrote this post after the March 27 shooting at a Nashville, Tennessee, school killed three adults and three children. It was an appalling, brutish act of evil. As are all of these incidents. Then I set the copy aside, concerned that it was perhaps too political for this podium where the subject matter is most often books, recipes and home decor.. Then a lone gunman carried a high-powered rifle — a war weapon — into a Monday morning staff meeting at a Louisville, Kentucky, bank. The carnage continues..
My kids used to catch the school bus at the corner, three doors away from our house. I often sat on the front step, coffee in hand, and watched them. It was a big group that boarded the bus there, twelve to fifteen kids from kindergarten thru fifth grade. Somewhere along the line the bus riders had devised a system of lining up backpacks in the order in which they arrived at the corner. (Do kids everywhere do this?) This is the order they lined up in to board the bus, but once their backpack was in place, they were free to kick soccer balls, twirl, dance, whatever their busy, wriggly bodies needed to do. I don’t know if my husband or my kids knew I did this, but it’s one of my sweeter memories of their grade school years.
This was in more innocent days, before individuals began bringing assault rifles to school.
Then came Columbine, Sandy Hook, Stoneman-Douglas, Uvalde and more. Last summer I wrote here about a senseless shooting at a July 4th parade in the Chicago suburbs:” A young gunman sat atop a downtown building and used a powerful weapon of war to shoot and kill at least six parade attendees and injure more than two dozen more.”
So we send thoughts and prayers to families who will never watch their children hop on the school bus, run in the playground, or kick a soccer ball again. And we send more thoughts and prayers to other families whose mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers will not be around the table at Sunday dinner again. What does this really do?
Not much. There have been more than 130 mass shootings this year in the United States. Guns are now the single greatest cause of death among children. I’m trying to understand the argument that guns are not the whole story, but we have to start somewhere, and we have to keep working at it.
Ours is a smart, resourceful, creative, well-educated society. How does this country separate our fundamental belief in a militia from this love affair with weapons of war? I’m not interested in anyone’s hunting rifles and I can even let the handguns go (a big step for me), but why on earth are military grade automatic weapons — developed as tools of war— legal?
Last month I read this powerful message from Nasthviille author and mom Mary Laura Philpott. I cannot stop thinking about her words: “It is time to ask everyone we know: Are you ready to support reasonable gun safety reform? And if not, what are you willing to sacrifice? Whose children? Name them.”
Think about that.
I’ll be stepping off my soapbox now. Thanks for stopping by.