These days following the 14th of December are days of unfathomable sorrow, as funerals take place with tiny coffins holding tiny bodies -- an event no parent should ever have to witness. Each day will bring another funeral procession and final farewells for the children and for the teachers who died bravely trying to protect them. Hundreds of friends and community members will gather to pay their respects, to offer silent prayers and provide whatever comfort they can to the families who have been utterly devastated. For the rest of us, those millions of us who don't know the families or the community members personally, well, we are left to grieve for the families from a distance, because we surely do grieve for them -- and also to ponder how such a thing could happen. Again. This isn't the first time assault weapons have ended up in the wrong hands.
Those among us with school-age children are admittedly grateful our children are OK. At the same time, many parents are fearful of another random act of unspeakable violence. I have thought of my own grandchildren, who are in the same age group as those precious children in Sandy Hook. To me, my grandkids represent new lights in the world. Those 20 darling first-graders in Newtown, Connecticut were fledgling shining stars. Their personal lights were shining, and they had everything to live for. I am sure there isn't a person among us who hasn't shed tears of grief at the tragedy at the sheer horror of the murders of small children and their teachers, in what has been described as the second worst massacre at a school in our nation's history.
As a mother, grandmother and perhaps simply as a fellow civilian who helps make up our society, I am convinced we can do a better job of protecting our children and our general populace from more such murderous rampages. Whether such heinous acts are carried out by sociopaths, psychopaths or seriously mentally ill individuals, the fact that these individuals had easy access to weapons that are designed for the military battlefield -- and are meant to kill human beings, is the discussion we should be having as a nation among ourselves, with our Congress and our president. We can surely come up with some solutions that don't trample our 2nd amendment rights to keep and bear arms. For, along with that right, also comes the responsibility to protect our citizens.
It's true that we can't protect ourselves from all danger, and we cannot blame everyone who owns a gun for this tragedy. However, we can reduce the risk of such tragedies if we limit access to high-powered military-style assault weapons. These weapons do NOT need to be on the street, or in private homes, where they are vulnerable to theft. You don't use these weapons to go on hunting expeditions. Such weapons are capable of firing bullets in rapid succession, meaning that many people can be killed before the shooter can be disarmed.
We have seen too many tragic endings brought on by the abuse of military-style assault weapons. I hope this time it will be the tipping point that brings us all together to make some important decisions. Though nothing will ever be enough to alter the horror of December 14th, perhaps we could honor the short lives of the children and teachers of Sandy Hook by making a significant change in the gun laws, and perhaps our way of thinking about guns.
Join the dialogue. Visit www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org, and www.demandaplan.org. The NRA is planning to hold a major news conference in the Washington D.C. area on Friday, December 21. I am hopeful they'll have some productive suggestions.