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The Monday after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, I drove my daughter to school. I do this every day, but on this day I noticed a police cruiser in the parking lot. I dropped her off and headed home. I also happened to drive by another school. I saw the same thing: a police cruiser in the parking lot. After Newtown, life was going to be different. Patrolled. I felt safe for a moment, but it was just a moment. More guns do not make us safe: not in our homes, not in our children’s schools and most definitely not in our communities.
In the thirteen years since Columbine, we have regulated text messaging more than guns. We have installed breathalyzers linked to car ignitions for those that are known drunk drivers and we have sent unmanned drones into war zones. But guns? No, of course not. We can’t change policy or even talk about changing it. And there is no way we can consider that people have taken on the British Empire (and won) without a firearm in the name of “freedom.”
Until Newtown. Now, we can talk about it.
Vice President Joe Biden is set to release his recommendations to the president on how to curb gun violence in the United States. He has met with the Brady Campaign and well as the NRA. Biden was also the main architect for the assault weapons ban. President Obama, now in his second term and after speaking at no less than four memorial services for mass shooting victims, is ready to hear and change what many of us have turned a blind eye to: guns kill people. And lots of them.
I like to think that change is on the horizon, but I know the NRA will fight common sense measures and many politicians will back away. But the truth is that the NRA’s bark is worse than its bite. If Karl Rove and his contingent of donors with deep pockets were losers in the 2012 president election, the NRA set the bar for backing politicians that don’t win. The truth is that if you now want to win an election, you have a better chance of winning without the support of the NRA.
This news should move mountains. For me it does. It means we have a real chance to change our country and drop our children off at school without armed police officers patrolling the grounds in order to feel “safe.” We don’t need protection from ourselves, we need protection from people who can’t put two and two together. I want this to be the time we get it right. We have to.
Liz Henry is an award-winning writer and blogger. She lives with her partner and their daughter in Philadelphia. Follow her on Twitter @sixyearitch.