All Dads Need To Forget Politics and Come Together For Our Children
This memory is still vivid 10 years later: in Dec 2012 I pulled to the side of the road shortly after dropping my daughter off at school to listen to what I was hearing on the radio. The report made no sense to me. Children had been shot dead at an elementary school in Connecticut, the state where I live.
If I heard the name of the town – Newtown, the Sandy Hook Elementary School – it didn’t register in the moment. Panic blocked it out. I had a 3-year-old and a newborn, and police cars were racing to our town’s schools, with sirens breaking the air.
I called my daughter’s elementary school and was told that all the doors were locked and the students were safe. The comfort was full but fleeting. As I type now, that visceral combination of fear, anger and sadness wells up, like that feeling of falling in a dream but instead of shuddering when you wake, your stomach turns and your arms and legs feel weak.
All I could think of in that moment was those sweet, young children, in the most uncomplicated and joyful time of life. Kindergarten and First Grade. So sweet and trusting and carefree. And then I thought of their parents who could be me and my wife and tears dropped like a thunderstorm down my cheeks. I cried, alone in my car, listening to the radio, for those children, for their parents, for my wife and me and our daughters.
That we rank school shootings in America by the number of dead, like some basketball coach’s win-loss record, is screwed up. That I can read that the shooting in Uvalde, Texas, was the second deadliest school shooting in America tells me what exactly? Would it have been less awful if it was the 14th deadliest school shooting in America? There is no pride in being number 1 in that ranking.
Or what about this stat: that there have been 26 school shootings so far this year – and we’re only 21 weeks into 2022? But that’s just schools. People going to buy groceries were gunned down in Buffalo by some guy in body armor with a camera on his helmet to live stream the carnage. They were buying milk and meat and whatever else they stopped in for, and he was playing commando.
I appreciate that some people want to hunt deer or birds and that others want to shoot skeet or take target practice. It’s their hobby, just like golf is mine. But would those sportsmen regularly and willingly hunt or shoot with some untethered person handling his rifle in an unsafe way, waving it around, pointing it at them, and shooting it irresponsibly? They wouldn’t. So why do we sell guns to people like that, with little or no training in the responsibility of gun ownership?
Any person, unstable or not, can buy guns without a universal background check and that’s okay? Some aspirant Congressman tweets 10 years ago something that doesn’t play well today and he gets canceled. But some prospective gun buyer writes a deranged screed on Discord and walks out of the gun shop armed like he’s headed to Ukraine?
Let’s talk assault-style weapons and giant cartridges of ammunition. Now, many of these weapons just lay waste to shooting range targets and dummies, with hot ammo clinking on to the ground. But has anyone ever gone hunting and seen someone pull out an AR-15 to obliterate a sky full of ducks? When you watch the biathlon in the Olympics, does the skier drop, jam magazine into her rifle, and blast off 20 shots, hoping one will hit the target? These weapons are not about sport shooting and they’re certainly not protecting us from the psychotics among us.
Kudos to you Steve Kerr for getting angry before Game 4 of the NBA Playoffs and calling for universal background checks. And shame on you Jason Kidd for releasing a PR-sanitized statement. You have three kids – use your basketball cache to speak up!
Last weekend my youngest daughter turned 5 and our backyard was filled with her little friends. Our middle daughter, about to finish 4th grade, was there with a friend; so, too, our middle school daughter who I had been so worried about 10 years ago as the news of Sandy Hook came in. There are different levels of fun with each age, but running around on a sunny Sunday they all found joy. And that scene of backyard bliss, of carefree childhood moments, shouldn’t be a privileged one. It should be an American one, wherever you live, whoever you vote for, and whether you own a gun or not.