Sarah came home from school today and excitedly told me about CODE RED. "So, let's say there was a stray dog in the school, the teacher has a key where she can lock the door from the inside, and there's this place by the easel where we can all hide so the dog can't see us!" My heart hurts.This was the status update of a good friend of mine today on Facebook. Sarah is beautiful, vivacious and inquisitive first grader who is just a year or two away from realizing what CODE RED is really all about. She is another few years away from understanding that the American people would rather she huddle behind an easel and pray for her life then stand up to the NRA and the lunatic fringe of the Republican party. Sarah is still probably another 5 years away from understanding that her death in a school shooting was a risk America was willing to take to avoid regulating guns with at least the same rigor that we regulate driving in this country.
How long will we accept this status quo? The NRA is well funded, well organized and well connected-but they are also way out in front of their own membership (70% of whom support some type of gun control), they stand on shaky legal grounds and they stand on the wrong side of history. There is vulnerability here. When will progressives exploit that weakness and break their stranglehold on this issue. I continue to hear the term dialogue thrown around in the news. Pro-gun pols like Manchin and Scarborough are bending over backwards to walk back their previous positions this week; Manchin in particular is now calling for a dialogue. President Obama has called for a dialogue. The NRA even called for dialogue this week. In this context, dialogue is another way of saying, status quo. Dialogue won't protect the Sarahs of the world if someone decides to use their legally purchased assault riffle and extended clip to carve up a school. Dialogue won't stop the gangs in my neighborhood from buying armor piercing bullets and high capacity clips out in the suburbs and using them to terrorize my neighbors. The fact is, we can talk culture, video games, violent movies, mental health...we can talk about the countless contributors to the culture of violence that plagues us - but without access to these types of guns, 20 beautiful young children would still be alive in Connecticut today. Without access to an assault rifle, James Holmes would not have killed 12 and wounded 58 in Colorado last year. Without access to semi-automatic handguns, 31 Virginia Tech students would be alive and out in the world today. There are many things that have contributed to the violence in American culture...but at some point, it all comes back to the guns.
So what are we going to do about it?