What is there to say, this week, to think about, to pray for, to write about, but those tiny little bodies, laid down to sleep in Connecticut, not in their cosy beds with their parents kneeling beside them, reciting familiar prayers, but to forever sleep, in small coffins, surrounded by the tears of family and strangers.
I have raised two children. I have walked the floor with them at night, and I have waited at night for the garage door to close, finally able to breathe again, knowing that they were at last safely home. My heart has ached through various childhood illnesses, sports injuries, peer pressures, learning to drive, to date, to say no. Fifteen years ago, my daughter was diagnosed with stage 3b breast cancer, and I was on my knees, praying, “Take me.”
And that is the prayer of every parent. If you must have one of us, take me.
The president quoted Elizabeth Stone,
” The decision to have a child …is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body”.
True. Francis Bacon wrote that having children made you a hostage to fortune. Indeed.
Good parents do what they can. If we could, we would walk before our loved ones, protecting them from all harm, asking them, as the first responders did to the Newtown children who survived, to close their eyes so that they would see no evil.
But against some things, we are powerless. We cannot anticipate such senseless slaughter. But we can make the next one more difficult.
America does not have any more mentally handicapped, or developmentally handicapped, disturbed, or mad people than any other country.
What it does have is more guns.
We cannot make sense of what happened in Newtown. We can only try to give this senseless massacre some purpose other than a cathartic outpouring of grief.
It is time to ban assault weapons in private hands. There is no reason, no reason at all, why a private citizen should have any kind of semi automatic, high power weapon. When the constitution guaranteed the right to bear arms, these kind of weapons did not exist.
It is time to put the sport back in sport shooting. My father was a hunter; so was my husband. Like most traditional hunters, they would be opposed to taking this kind of weaponry, with the type of ammunition now available, into the field. There is no sport when the target does not have a chance.
It is time to demand background checks on those who would have guns, and high time to make those who would traffic illegally in guns charged with a felony crime.
I am not against guns. I am against military weapons used by civilians; I am against easy access to any gun to anyone, regardless of their mental state or background, who wants to buy one. I am for common sense. And the common good.
It is time for the politicians to decide whether they represent the people of America or the gun lobby.
And it is time for the media to go home, to leave the people of Newtown and the families of all those children, those killed and those who survived, to do their mourning privately.
Take the cameras and the microphones instead, to the state capitals and to Washington, and focus them on the policy makers, holding them in the spotlight of scrutiny, make them accountable to the 26 bodies that will be laid to rest this week in Newtown Connecticut. Do not let them out of your sight, or sound, until they have acted. For once, make the story more than a one week wonder. Do not go home until the change that President Obama so eloquently spoke of, becomes a fact.
Joan Sutton’s columns may also be read on The Huffington Post.
It is time.