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kag

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Member since: Tue Oct 21, 2008, 10:30 PM
Number of posts: 3,043

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Why Newtown is Different

(I hope this passes the exceptions rule on guns. I wrote it this morning after reading the New Republic article.)


I wouldn't have understood it before I had children. For the first thirty years of my life I considered myself a sane, rational human being. But once my son was born, and then my daughter, I began to understand that my youthful assumptions had simply ignored the suppressed tendencies that emerged once I was a parent, and I became a different creature altogether.

And what is that? An irrational, thoroughly untempered wild animal whose sole purpose in life is to protect the children I have borne. Nothing else matters. Ever. The impulse to protect our children outweighs everything, sometimes even the law, sometimes even our own self-preservation. I remember my husband trying to explain to my son why there were terrorists in the world. Without, of course, condoning violence, he attempted to illustrate the hopelessness that exists in some corners of the world, "What would you do if your child was sick, and the person who had the medicine that would save your child's life wouldn't give it to you, even though it would simply go to waste in his possession?" Naturally, our son couldn't understand, but he will some day. When he is protecting his own children.

As parents we all understand, even if we cannot empathize, the pain that the parents of the children at Sandy Hook Elementary have suffered. This doesn't assume that non-parents cannot also understand. Indeed I have friends with no children of their own who have adopted mine (pseudo godparents, or adopted aunts and uncles), and I believe they would protect my children as passionately as I would. The instinct is in all of us, and it is raw and fierce.

And that, I believe, is why Newtown is different. The fact that innocents were killed has never been enough. Even Columbine, which I think until now came the closest to tapping that wild-animal instinct, wasn't enough for us to all feel the hurt, indeed the betrayal, that Newtown instilled. Betrayal? Yes, the betrayal by our fellow man to not have somehow stopped this from happening. It wasn't bad enough that teenagers, who at least have stronger abilities to protect themselves, were murdered on our watch. But five-year olds? How did we let this happen? As parents we not only feel betrayed by each other, but ashamed of ourselves. We, none of us, can look the Newtown families in the eye and claim to have done enough. No shower in the world will wash away that stain.

And not only did we not protect the children! We didn't even protect the people who were protecting the children! The heroic efforts of the adult victims at Sandy Hook prevented even more children from dying, but they had to lose their lives to do it. Shame on us! How could we!?

Even after the horrific shooting in Tucson, the only two names I remembered for years were Gabriella Giffords and Christina Taylor Green. Christina was nine years old when she was gunned down. My own daughter was thirteen, and I could barely look at her that day without crying.

And the beat goes on. The ridiculous assertions of the NRA that what is needed now is more guns, guns in schools, and fewer gun restrictions are not only absurd on their face, they belie the almost daily drum beat of news about accidental shootings, domestic violence shootings, and shootings by gangs in turf wars or drug wars. Without guns, these wouldn't even be wars. Problems, perhaps, but not wars. We hear of shootings of police officers, fire fighters, and even civilians who simply want to help an injured person. We read of road rage shootings, drive by shootings, and shootings like the one that occurred in my own small town when a beloved husband, friend and father was senselessly murdered because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time when a disturbed man with a gun snapped.

Yes, Newtown is different. It is why the NRA is now on its heels. It's why Mayor Bloomberg feels compelled to spend his millions on stopping the next Newtown from happening, the next place name to become the name of a disastrous loss of life because someone was able to get their hands on a gun and ammunition too easily. Newtown, Tucson, Aurora, Columbine, ad nauseam. Where will it happen next? Throw a dart at a map, and that could be it…unless.

Unless we keep our promises to our children. Unless we keep our promises to ourselves and to each other to protect the most innocent and defenseless among us. Unless we stop the easy sale of guns and bullets to anyone with enough money. Unless we keep those assault weapons, those death machines out of the hands of the mentally ill, the immature, and the criminal.

"They want to repeal the second amendment!!!!" Cries the NRA, the most vocal front for the gun manufacturers. "They want to take away our guns!" they warn. Well, you're damn right we do! If you can't be bothered to keep it contained and safe from anyone too ill, young, drunk, careless or demonstrably evil getting their hands on it, then HELL YES! I want to take away your guns! I never again want your gun to kill your child or my child or anyone's child. If you're too lazy, stupid or just don't care enough to keep your instrument of death away from those who should not have it, then yeah, I fiercely wish to take away your gun!

Why? Because Newtown was different.
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