“The public is not in danger,” announced Lt. J. Paul Vance, after the massacre in Newtown, CT, when the shooter’s body had been found, dead at the scene.
But the public is still in danger. There have now been seven mass-shootings* in the United States this year, not to mention thousands of murders, by civilians and law enforcement agents alike; and casualties in armed conflicts around the world. It is not a matter of “if” another mass-shooting, or individual death from gun violence, will occur, but “when.” Unless we make some radical changes, we will continue to be in danger of dying as a result of gun violence, in schools, in theaters, in malls, in parks, on our streets, in our homes.
We have to start now. We can’t wait until tomorrow, or until we’ve grieved, to start to take guns and weapons off our streets and out of our homes. Children in Newtown, Connecticut just suffered the loss of classmates and teachers and mentors.** They need to be supported in their experience of this trauma, so they can do their best to keep living their lives and growing into whole, healthy souls, and they need to be assured that they won’t bare witness to such violence again.
I’m not only talking about the gun violence that happens in Connecticut or Virginia or Colorado, either. The family and friends of José Antonio Elena Rodriguez, 17-year-old resident of Nogales, Sonora, are grieving his death by the bullets of US Border Patrol. When I visited the Border Patrol Station in Nogales, AZ for a tour with my Border Studies classmates, we were invited to hold the agents’ weapons to see what they were using to protect themselves. José Antonio’s death was not about protecting anyone. His death did not protect anyone, and now I can’t imagine that anyone walking along the Mexican side of the border wall, going about their daily lives, feels a greater sense of security.
Guns have no place in a peaceful society. Guns have no role in creating a peaceful society. Until we stop trying to pretend guns are important and necessary to the health of our society, we will not be safe from gun violence.
President Obama, gave a speech today about the tragedy in Connecticut. Mr. President, stay true to your tears, and do something real. Take real action to get guns out of our homes, and stop enacting foreign policy that results in continuously escalating violence. We can live in peace together. We need to come together, support each other, listen to each other, and do hard work to make it happen.
My heart is with the victims and survivors of violence around the world, from Connecticut, to Nogales, to Colorado to Virginia to Palestine to Syria to Iraq to Tibet.
**this piece was edited on Sunday, December 16, correcting details about the Sandy Hook shooting.