Gun Violence, Child Hunger, And The End Of The World

Today, I’m going to visit my family in Tucson, Arizona. My mother has plans for me and my kids that include shopping for a Christmas present for my niece. But shopping means going to a mall and that’s the last place I want to take my children. My parents live a half mile away from the strip mall where last year a gunman shot 18 people, killing a 9-year-old girl and severely injuring Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

I have kids in elementary school and like every mother I know, I’ve been thinking about the horrific events at Sandy Hook Elementary School for days now. The horror of it, the randomness of it, is so unsettling I want to keep my kids inside the house and lock the door.

Not just with this tragedy, but events over the years have made me furious and demanding to know what has to happen to make the country safer and better for our children. It seems we’ve turned our backs on the most vulnerable in our society and instead focused on who has the loudest voice. But these facts below cannot be ignored any longer.

5,748 children died from gun violence in 2008-2009, according the Children’s Defense Fund  

16 million children in America go to bed hungry, according to Feeding America

1.6 million children are homeless, according to the National Center on Homelessness

This is the time, right now, that change can happen. There’s talk that the President will actively support legislation to ban assault weapons. But right now, it’s just talk. President Obama was named Time Magazine’s Person of the year and he now has public opinion and the momentum of his presidential win to get things done. Still Sen. Diane Feinstein, who herself has witnessed the horror of gun violence, said on PBS yesterday that even with the Sandy Hook tragedy, an assault weapons ban is an uphill battle.

How can it be an uphill battle? There’s no logical reason that a hunter or any private citizen needs an assault weapon. And the idea that all guns will be taken away is ludicrous. Guns aren’t going away in America, but they should be regulated as vigorously as children’s toys.

But it’s not just guns that are on the table as we speak. Right now, the government is fighting over whether to raise taxes on the richest Americans. Part of these taxes pay for services for children and seniors. There’s no war on poverty. There’s no war on guns (yet). There’s no war on homelessness yet there are people in our legislature going to great lengths to protect people from paying their fair share of taxes.

We need to think about the bigger picture where we aren’t anxious to send our kids to school for fear they won’t come home. That we don’t have to worry that there will be no way to feed and shelter our children.

Everyone is waiting for the end of the world on Friday, the day the Mayan Calendar is set to end. Sometimes it feels like the end of the world is already upon us.

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