On May 24, I could not hold back the tears. The news started with nine students getting shot at a Texas elementary school. Then, more. By the next morning, a count of 19 young children and two teachers were dead.
All of them innocent victims going to school and trying to have a normal day. Parents not knowing that it was the last time they would say goodbye.
Driving my kids to school the following morning was tough. I did not tell my elementary-aged children what happened but as I dropped them off with the usual, “Be good. Be kind. Be smart,” the words I say every day, tears started to fall. My son had a strange look on his face as he shut the car door looking at me. He had no idea the terror going through my mind.
You see, we as parents can no longer live in a world where we say, “That won’t happen here.” We can’t say that because in Colorado and the rest of the country, parents know it can happen. It can happen today, tomorrow or in the future.
It continues to happen because nothing changes. My fears turned to anger when I came home to see that an extended family member had already geared up the “pro-gun” rhetoric on Facebook. After all, with each tragedy, each side has to jump in and start the battle of politics. This tragedy impacts all of us and something has to change.
I was so angry reading the post about gun rights. While I do not engage in Facebook fighting, I had a response ready to go. I was ready to ask about the innocent children we are losing to these senseless, hate-filled acts of violence. What about the innocent who were killed by an 18-year-old who should not have his hands on weapons like this? What about the innocent killed in Buffalo?
When our children are dying, when I am afraid to drop my children off at their school — I do not care if the NRA loses money next year. What I care about is making sure people who shouldn’t have guns are not getting them.
To the responsible, gun-carrying member of society — I say keep your weapon. However, can you argue that it is that big of a deal to go through some extra steps to get them? If you are a law-abiding citizen, then why fight some extra steps that might prevent another bad person from doing this to our children?
For those arguing about mental illness — I agree that discussions need to be had in that area. As I have stated in this column before, I covered the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, the congresswoman shot in Arizona. The shooter in the tragedy was mentally ill. The warning signs were out there for years.
But think of the tragedy that could have been prevented if laws worked to stop him from getting his hands on a weapon.
In 2012, sports personality Bob Costas said something that has always stuck with me. During halftime, Costas was addressing the tragedy in which football player Jovan Belcher killed another person and then himself. Costas said if Belcher did not have a gun, then two people would still be alive today.
Bottom line — if we enforce red-flag laws and stand up and say we want more control over who is getting a gun — then our children will be a lot safer and maybe those kids in Texas would have gone home that night.
Thelma Grimes is the south metro editor for Colorado Community Media.