People live by stories. Some of them are great ones, stories that push us to live up to ideals, to be better than we are. When we tell ourselves our role is to save lives, or teach, or nurture, these are great stories, and ones society needs desperately. But sometimes we get stuck on a particular story, all facts to the contrary, and we can’t let go. Such, I believe, is the story too many people in this country tell themselves about guns.
Since Friday’s massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, I can’t stop reading the news. As a mother, my heart is breaking for the families of all those lost. As a human being, I’m horrified that we’ve been so reckless as a culture. We don’t have adequate, or in some cases any, support for the mentally ill and their families. We glorify violence on TV and in movies, make heroes of villains, and then, most of all, make access to guns — and assault weapons no less — so easy that almost anyone can get one. And still, gun advocates continue to tell themselves the story that more guns are better. That a society armed to the teeth is the safest one around. Here’s a quote from an article today that made my jaw drop:
“(S)ome gun advocates, like Republican Representative Louis Gohmert of Texas, are saying that the shooting could have been prevented if more responsible adults in the area — like principal Dawn Hochsprung, who was killed when she confronted the gunman — had been armed themselves.
“I wish to God she had had an M-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out and she didn’t have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands,” he told Fox News on Sunday. “But she takes him (the shooter) out, takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids.”
So this is what we want? A society in which an elementary school principal needs to be armed like a soldier? Where along with pencils and extra notebooks and stickers, she has an M-4 in her office?
When people get so buried in a story about what should be that they can’t see the facts, the world grows twisted. It’s time for all of us to say enough.