It’s going to happen again. Unless we take action. Here’s how to start.

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Almost four months later.

I can’t believe that there’s still any debate about what needs to be done.

I can’t believe that these children’s deaths haven’t been enough to change the conversation.

If we can’t enact sensible gun controls in this country now, then when? They deserve a vote. That’s so incredibly reasonable, so nothing to ask- and even now, we’re supposed to accept that Congress will pander and dither and give us half-measures that will change nothing?

I have the privilege of knowing Francine and David Wheeler, the parents of Ben Wheeler, who died on December 14th. After having this unthinkable tragedy thrust upon them, they have been speaking for all of us- for all of our children- with incredible clarity and grace. They are in Washington, DC this week. They were on 60 Minutes last week. Here’s what David said then.

“I would like every parent in this country—that’s 150 million people. I would like them to look in the mirror and that’s not a figure of speech. I mean find a mirror in your house and look in it and look in your eyes and say ‘this will never happen to me, this will never happen in my school, this will never happen in my community,’ and see if you actually believe that. And if there’s a shadow, the slightest shadow of doubt in what you’ve said? Think about what you can do to change that. It is going to happen again. It’s going to happen again. Every time, it’s somebody else’s school, it’s somebody else’s community, it’s somebody else’s town. Until one day, you wake up and it’s not.”

I don’t need that mirror: it’s the certainty that this could have happened to any of us that made THIS tragedy so different for anyone who is a parent. When any one of us brought our children to school that next Monday, we were terrified. (At the time, I thought I was alone in feeling that way. So I wrote about it. No: not alone at all.)

As time has gone by, I have felt increasing frustration that there’s nothing I can *do* to make things different this time, that the donating and the marching- and the tears- are not making a difference at all.

But the only change that can’t occur is the change that is never sought.

This week, Francine has asked everyone she knows to share this message. Here’s a way to change things. Today. It will take you less than half an hour. I’m going to do it as soon as I publish this post.

The time has come. Please pass this on to your friends and family, and ask them to either write and/or call their Senator over the next 7-10 days. We expect the discussion on the bill to start Monday, April 8th and go for 2 weeks. 

You can call or write or email multiple times — as many requests as you are comfortable making. 

Use this template for a letter to Congress.

Use this template for a phone call to Congress (all you do is call one central number and ask to be connected to your rep’s office.)

 Below are key States we would love to get engaged into the Senate voting process:

  • Alaska
  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • New Mexico
  • Oklahoma
  • West Virginia
  • Arizona
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Arkansas
  • Montana
  • South Carolina

Please take a moment to consider and understand how important you are to this process.  We are the foundation of the government we’ve elected and we can make our voices heard.

Please join me in doing this: for Francine, for David, for Nate, for Ben.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

downtownjeff April 9, 2013 at 6:19 pm

Yet again someone else who thinks enacting new laws will help.

How about enforcing laws that are already on the books? Where are your feelings for poor inner city kids who are murdered every day in Chicago? Why do they NOT enforce the tough anti-gun laws they have written?

How about car accidents? I don’t see your outrage for cars. Hammers? You know they were used more often for murder than guns. I can provide you with a list of items that kill.

Bloggers like you continually use the Newtown families and reduce them to human props to support policies that wouldn’t have saved their kids or yours.

And yes, I would look any of those parents from Sandy Hook in the eye and tell them no, I will not permit infringement of my rights

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A April 9, 2013 at 9:21 pm

I guess my question is: Why do these things keep happening? Is it lack of adequate mental health care? Is it our culture’s addiction to all things violent in our movies, video games, television programs? Is it the ready access to automatic weapons? Is it an evil side of human nature that becomes more likely to be expressed in our overpopulated and ever under-resourced society? Is it a combination of all of these? My gut tells me that the answers lie somewhere in this mix but how are we to know where?

My rebuttal for those who argue that cars, hammers, etc. kill people is that yes, they most certainly can, but that is not their created purpose. Why would one own a semi- or fully automatic weapon if not for the express desire to shoot and kill (even in the name of self defense)? Were these weapons not created for military use? Am I to conclude that the only way to survive in today’s American society is to accept that I live in a war zone and purchase one of these for myself? God help us all if it has come to that.

Do we know if banning magazine size, weapon type, etc. will result in decreased gun violence? We certainly hope so. It’s worked in Australia. And with the potential to save lives, why wouldn’t we try it? What is the downside? Lack of self-protection? Won’t there still be plenty of weapons available for purchase that could allow someone to protect him/herself if they so desire? (Although, as a pediatrician, I must remind us that a gun stored in the home is much more likely to be used in a suicide or an accidental shooting than in the protection of the homeowners from a threatening intruder.)

I firmly agree that gun regulations are not the only answer. We clearly do not know how to adequately treat and provide appropriate care for mental illness. We clearly are not teaching our youth about the intrinsic value of human life (for example, the teen who kidnapped and murdered 10 year old Jessica Ridgway in Colorado stated he didn’t get the “rush” he expected upon doing this).

But gun regulations have to be part of the answer or we are fooling ourselves that we can even hope to envision a future where our children can go to first grade without fear of being killed. I just can’t believe that the ideal society we all envision and work for involves arming school secretaries, answering violence with violence. If it does, then I’m not sure even God can help us then..

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