I have today (Friday) off from my clinic, in preparation of Babygirl's first birthday party tomorrow and Christmas in general, but I came to work anyways, to drop off Christmas presents for the nurses and office staff. I was feeling pretty good until the NPR commentator announced, "...let us now pause to take a moment of silence to pause in honor of those exactly one week ago. Remember that it was at this time of the morning last Friday December fourteenth that twenty elementary schoolchildren and six teachers were gunned down at a Connecticut elementary school...."
I cried last Friday when I first saw the headlines about this shooting, and I cried again as I was driving in. Every day, I think about those families, and wonder we can do for them.
I can't help but pause for a moment to think about them, and then to be thankful for my own little family, our two beautiful kids, our hectic workaday lives, every day full of small and large joys.
I want to help them. There are things that I can do as a human being, a parent, and a physician, to offer some help to those families... There are things we can all do.
Since last week, I have signed two petitions appealing to our politicians for stricter gun laws, including a ban on all military-style assault weapons. The most effective of these is on the We The People website, an open-access petition site: anyone can start a petition to the government, and any petition that gathers more than 25,000 signatures is guaranteed a response from the White House. In the hours after the Newtown shooting, user David G. started a petition asking for stricter gun control legislation; this gun control legislation petition has now gathered over 190,000 signtaures, in a week, and has received alot of attention as the most popular petition to ever appear on the We The People site.
Guns are a public health issue, and need legislation around them protecting citizens from risk of harm, similar to cars. Try replacing the saying "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" with "Cars don't kill people, people kill people". Hello? Not everyone can have a driver's license- they need to pass a test first. They need to be checked to make sure their previous license was not revoked. We have seat belt laws, we have drunk driving laws, we have speed limits, we have traffic laws, and our driving is regularly monitored by cops on the road.*
Why, for God's sake, do we not have even a fraction of the same legislation and monitoring of guns? We don't shrug and say, " Oh well, no need for laws around car safety, we just need to work on our substance abuse and mental health care system!"*
*I take this analogy - though it is a common one- from Nicholas Kristof's brilliant New York Times Op-Ed piece Do We Have The Courage To Stop This, published after the Newtown shooting, and I recommend it to everyone.
These are my personal thoughts and opinions, as a doctor and a mother... and a rational human being.