The nation is buzzing about the speech President Obama just gave on gun control, in which he promised to try to ban assault weapons, ban high-capacity ammo clips (over 10-rounds), require background checks for all gun sales, better fund mental health care and provide mental health services in schools and allocate more funds to hire more police officers in schools. The President needs Congress to approve the measures, and he admits it will be difficult thanks to lobbying from the NRA and other pro-gun organizations.
But New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, on the other hand, was able to sign into law last night a gun control measure that not only bans assault weapons but “restricts ammunition magazines to seven rounds, down from the current 10,” according to the AP. The measure also “creates a more comprehensive database of people barred from owning guns, and makes New York the first state to require background checks to buy bullets. The system will also help flag customers who buy large amounts of ammo.”
I hate to use the sound of a gun to express my joy over this, but BOOM. There you have it. New York was ahead of the curve on gay rights and we continue our impressive streak of progressive action with these gun control measures. I am continually impressed by Governor Cuomo’s leadership and his willingness to really face the tough issues and make much-needed changes. After Hurricane Sandy, Gov. Cuomo was the first to say that global warming is one of the biggest problems facing this generation, and I hope New York State will be a legislative leader for change in that arena as well.
It should be noted that “New York’s law passed the state Senate, which is run by a Republican-dominated coalition, 43-18 Monday night. The Democrat-controlled Assembly approved it 104-43 Tuesday afternoon,” proving to those in Washington that gun control does not have to be a partisan issue. We all know the old adage, safety first! As President Obama said today, “What’s more important? Doing whatever it takes to get an A’ grade from the lobbies that fund their campaigns or giving parents peace of mind when they drop their child off for first grade?”
Obama opened his speech today by reading letters sent to him by children in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting. 11-year-old Julia wrote, “I’m not scared for my safety, I’m scared for others. I have four brothers and sisters and I know I would not be able to bare the thought of losing any of them …. My opinion is it should be very hard for people to buy guns …. I beg you to work very hard to make guns not allowed, not just for me, but for the whole United States.” I couldn’t agree more.
I’m staunchly anti-gun, as I’ve written so many times during my tenure here at Babble. Regular readers know that my grandparents died from gun violence, a tragedy I detailed recently in a piece for XO Jane. I don’t see that any good can come from guns, and I wouldn’t mind living in a society with really strict gun control (like Britain). I know that kind of restriction will never happen in the United States, and when push comes to shove, I don’t object to police officers and security teams carrying weapons, but I don’t believe regular citizens should have them, even for hunting purposes. As one of my college mentors said once, “If you’re a hunter, use a bow and arrow. Now that’s a sport.”
This news is of particular interest to me today because last night, before bed, my 7-year-old daughter off-handedly mentioned to me, “By the way, we’re gonna do a hard lockdown tomorrow. All you do is crowd into the closet and wait for an hour.”
Ugh. I didn’t know what to say. I just said “wow” and then helped her get ready for bed. Then this morning on the way to school she said, “We have our hard lockdown today.” I noticed a little tension in her voice. “We have to lock our door and shut all the blinds and hide in the closet.” She paused, then added, “But, it’s just a drill.”
Again, I felt so overcome, I didn’t know how to react. On the one hand I’m happy that the kids are prepared for any potential emergency, but I’m flabbergasted at the thought that my child is now “prepared” to be shot at with an assault rifle. As if any amount of preparation can avoid casualty in the end. And that is precisely what is so backward about the NRA’s view of gun control. It’s just more of America’s love of victim-blaming repackaged and shifted in focus from from sex to guns (a great combo, by the way, if you believe the movies). “Oh, did your kid die in a shooting spree at her school? We’re awful sorry, but it wasn’t the gun’s fault. It was the fault of that crazy gunman! That archetype that seems to keep reappearing no matter how hard we work to convince you he’s an anomaly. Anyway, you might want to run better drills next time, just in case.”
I told my daughter I was sorry she had to go through that and that I think it sucks, but that I understand why they do it. I gave her a kiss and she walked into school. I wonder if she’s hiding in a closet right now, scared but “prepared.”
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