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Devon Corneal Headshot

The 'Right to Bear Arms' Is Not More Important Than a Child's Right to Grow Up

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I'm fighting every fiber of my being right now not to run to my son's school and take him home, lock the door and read stories about superheroes while eating peanut butter crackers in our pajamas. I want to know he's safe by having him in my sight. I might be overreacting, but it doesn't feel that way.

I haven't turned on the TV, because I can't bear to watch perfectly coiffed news anchors talk about more children's deaths. I don't want to see the anguish and fear of parents whose children go to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. It's cowardly, but if I start watching, I may never let my son go to school again.

Last night I worried that he wouldn't be well enough to go and fretted over how we'd rework our day if he was ill. I was eager to send him off with his blue lunch box and homework folder. I'm sure the Sandy Hook parents felt that way too.

Every day we send the most vulnerable members of our society their classrooms, and they're turning into shooting galleries. A place that was supposed to give children a sense of stability did exactly the opposite.

I hope my boy is too young to hear the news so I don't have to explain it to him. I trust his teachers are going through their normal routines and not discussing what happened this morning in the halls. The children in Newtown don't have that luxury. Their sense of security and safety will be forever altered by what happened today. Mine is.

I am praying I don't have to talk with my son because I'm so angry, I don't know what I would say. We've gone through this too many times to count. In the late 90's I worked for the federal government on a task force addressing school shootings and violence. People were reeling from Columbine and there were lengthy discussions of what should be done. We clearly didn't come up with the magic cure. Maybe we'll see something like that again. And it might be helpful, but it's too late for the children who died today. Or the adults who chose to teach and care for them. Or the families who will spend their holidays wondering how a season of lights could end in such darkness.

I'll tell you how. It's because a man walked into a school with at least one gun and shot and killed nearly 30 people. Nearly 20 children are among the victims. One man. With a gun (or two). I don't know how he got his weapon(s) and to be frank, I do not care. Because after seeing similar scenarios play out over and over again, in schools, movie theaters and malls, I'm ready to throw the 2nd Amendment out the f*cking window. Someone's "right to bear arms" is not more important than a child's right to grow old enough to get to middle school, have her first kiss, see Santa or light the final candles on the Menorah. Having access to a gun cannot take precedence over the safety of our schools. It simply can't.

The answer isn't to wrap our schools in barbed wire and turn them into prisons with pretty murals on the wall and jungle gyms. The answer is to stop ignoring the fact that the availability of guns in this country is literally killing us.

We spend a lot of time teaching our children to be safe. We hold their hands when they cross the street, tell them not to talk to strangers, and strap them in their carseats. It's a pillar of parenting -- stay safe. But sometimes you send your child to school and they don't come back. I don't even know how to process that.