I wanted to post some of the beautiful, passionate, important things I have been reading from my friends in response to the horrendous school shooting today at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, CT. We’re all pretty much on the same page here: we need SERIOUS legislation making gun laws a hell of a lot stricter in this country. We can’t stop people from doing crazy things, not all of the time, although I agree that mental health care should be easier to get and much more affordable at that. And we can’t make our schools into impenetrable fortresses that are as welcoming as jails. This has no educational value, nor is it necessary. Evidence? See the rest of the world. But the number of people who die senselessly in the USA because of guns and an intense lack of courage and will from our leadership to stand up to politics is something about which we should be deeply ashamed. NO MORE. It has to stop.
-Danielle Shapiro, a journalist, lover of all children, and aunt who can’t stop thinking about her nephews today
Now from my friends:
-Liam O’Rourke, a teacher:
I went to work today, a mere 20 miles from Newtown. I walked into a building full of children. I taught nine year olds grammar; I read “The Woman in White” with seventh graders; I discussed the ending of “Moby Dick” with a senior who thanked me for teaching it to her, because (in her words) “this book is everything.” Then at lunch a group of little six to eight year olds came to me with their lunches and begged me to read them the last pages of “Over Sea, Under Stone” because our last class was canceled due to our afternoon holiday party. They sat rapt. They gasped aloud when Mr. Hastings almost got the grail away from Barney, cheered when the children defeated the dark ones, and laughed when Great Uncle Merry scolded the newspaper reporter. Then I stood in the dance studio and watched as 83 kids from 5-18 sang Purcell madrigals in their chorus and later Pat Benatar in karaoke. They danced. They played. They ate cake. Now imagine that someone walked in… I don’t need to finish that fucking unutterably awful thought. Anyone who will not accept that guns and gun violence needs to be taken seriously in this country is a person who, in my mind, is complicit in each and every one of those children’s deaths today. If you are still unconflicted in your support for the right to bear arms indiscriminately, then you are dead to me. Because I promise you that I will choose the brilliant, silly, joyful, spinning, dancing, singing children over your right to bear arms EVERY SINGLE TIME.
-Emily Ziff Griffin, a mother:
Dear President Obama:
I wrote you recently, a month or so before the election to urge you to take a stand on the things that matter to me as a new mother, things I believe also matter to you—the environment, education, food safety and obesity, the mental health of our veterans, and gun control. I received back a lovely form letter detailing the work your administration has done on environmental i
ssues. Thank you for that.
But I am writing again today and have decided that I will be writing you every day for the next year or until you take a serious and effective stand on gun control. I am sitting in my office in New York City watching reports of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting flood the internet while my 10-month-old daughter sits in daycare in Brooklyn. The horror that fills my heart as I look at the pictures of these tiny kids being shuttled into the parking lot, their mouths agape in fear and sorrow is overwhelming. And this is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that we are being confronted with this type of image. This keeps happening. And yes, we need to better treat the mentally ill members of our society. And yes ultimately it is “people who kill people.” But Sir, we quite simply need to control, in no uncertain terms, the access people have to these weapons.
You are in a position to help. It is your duty and responsibility to help. I and millions like me re-elected you because we believe you are who you say you are. And that person you say you are would not sit idly by, again, and do nothing to make this issue a priority.
You’ll hear from me again tomorrow.
Thanks for listening,
Emily Ziff Griffin,
American anti-gun mother
-A letter from the parent coordinator at the school in NYC where my friend Valerie Otto’s daughter attends:
Dear 41 Families,
I am loathe to write anything right now on the tragedy today in Newton, Connecticut.
But I send this out to you–hug your child very tightly tonight and speak to him or her of your love. Whisper of grace and awe and joy and hope (and carry in your own hearts and minds the idea that maybe, just maybe, our children will see a world in which those things can somehow take root and cover this heavy darkness.)
Speak softly in your voice….but carry the sound and fury in your soul and scream to the sky……Please, no more.
My thoughts go to the families of those killed, those injured and those who witnessed. For those of us who work in the elementary school system, we are one today.
My gratitude and love goes out to you all…..
Your Grieving PC
-Laila Al-Arian, a journalist, an aunt:
Can’t stop thinking about the children who were brutally and senselessly killed today and can’t possibly imagine what their parents are going through. Gun control, America. We have willingly sacrificed our first amendment for the sake of false security and have clung to false notions of the second for the sake of a powerful lobby.
-Jana Winter, a journalist. This is her story today from Newton: