When I dropped my daughter off at school this morning I could not help thinking about the parents and the families of the victims — especially 20 of the 6- and 7-year-olds that were taken away — of the shooting in Newtown, Conn.
How excited were the kids that Friday morning, looking forward to a weekend with their families and thinking about the holidays?
How did parents face this morning — the first school day without their babies? How will they endure a long string of first times they had to do something without their child?
How do you explain a murdered sibling to your kids? What about the children that witnessed what happened?
There are a string of painful questions I have been trying to answer in my mind.
But there is a more fundamental question that keeps crossing my mind as well: Why did this have to happen? How many more schools need to be shot up before we act? How many children need to die over a Constitutional Amendment that addressed the right for Americans to possess muskets?
For those that say it is too soon to “politicize” the issue, I believe we have waited too long and tolerated too many mass murders not to talk about solutions.
I will add the obligatory statements here. I understand and support the rights of hunters and sportsmen. I especially understand that for some families, hunting is an important part of their food budget — it allows them to make ends meet. I know that hunters donate meat to those who otherwise would go hungry. But that right is not connected to what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
I also am very aware that some Americans need to be armed to protect themselves and their farms from predators. But that right is not connected to what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The very idea of gun safety laws makes some launch into the paranoid belief that people will start taking guns away. The idea that guns are going to be taken away from people is at odds with reality.
We have had a United States President and his Press Secretary shot, but no one took anyone’s gun away. Recently a United States Congresswoman was shot in the head at close range and others, including children, were killed. Still, no one took a gun away from anyone.
Our school campuses have been drenched with blood, from kindergarten to college, with no consequences for gun owners.
A large part of the reason nothing ever happens is the political strength of the National Rifle Association. Between 2011 and 2012, the NRA spent almost $1 million per Newtown victim on Federal lobbying and to influence the outcome of Federal campaigns. They spent over $5 million on lobbying, gave over $1 million to Members of Congress and spent more than $17 million on their own campaigns.
Those numbers do not touch the fundraising they do from their members and “business alliance” members directed to campaigns and outside organizations at the Federal level. It also does not include state and local spending.
The NRA opposes any efforts make our gun laws ones that protect our citizens. They opposes common sense laws like registering guns like you register cars, eliminating the gun show loophole or banning assault weapons that have no business being in the hands of anyone but law enforcement or the military.
The NRA does not care that 2,694 children and teens were killed by gunfire in 2010.
In fact, it is a safe bet that, while Newtown was preparing memorial services and funerals, the NRA spent the weekend with lobbyists and PR hacks scheming to make sure that those little kids die in vain — that there will be no successful effort protect kids, not guns.
The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) has launched #protectchildrennotguns, a campaign that asks a simple question: How young do the victims have to be and how many children need to die before we stop the proliferation of guns in our nation?
The CDF and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence are an excellent resource for those that want to learn more about how gun violence effects our society and our children.
Those groups are opposed to an America where every three hours a child or teen is killed by a gun. The NRA feels differently.
The NRA is fine with children and teens dying at an atrocious rate.
Sunday night, President Obama asked America a fundamental question: Can we honestly say that we are doing enough to keep our children safe from harm?
It is beyond time to act. Let’s hope that we act to end a world where elementary schools, college campuses, movie theaters, malls and other places we congregate become killing fields because the NRA and others are unconcerned with the safety of our kids.
About Bill Buck
Bill Buck is a Democratic strategist, President of the Buck Communications Group, a media relations and new media strategies consulting business based in Washington, DC, and Managing Director of the online ad firm Influence DSP. He has over twenty years of international and national communications experience. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.