Gun violence has become a public health epidemic. Despite countless deaths in mass shootings over the last 2 decades, the Dickey Amendment—a provision inserted into the 1996 spending bill which blocked federal funding for research on gun violence—remains on the books. While every politician, media pundit, and policy expert “know” the solution, the answers are not that simple.
This week, I am sharing a podcast with David Introcaso. He invited me on the show after reading a piece of mine written in support of the National Walkout on March 14, 2018.
Why has so little changed in almost 20 years since Columbine? I don’t know. Why has so little changed since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook where 20 children and 6 adults were gunned down in cold blood? I cannot understand. Why has the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida galvanized the nation? Because now, it is our innocent children leading the fight for meaningful change.
Hilary Clinton once said, “there’s no such thing as other people’s children.” Every child is mine. Every child is yours. Every child adds value to the world. By preventing just one child from bringing a gun to school, we could transform the life of not only that child, but also every student in attendance that day, plus every teacher, administrator, parent, grandparent, and community member working to support vulnerable young people.
I remember the first time someone threatened my life as a physician. It was my day off, so I was not in the clinic that day; a Children’s Hospital specialty group was working there instead, and after a staff member called the police, she notified me. A father had walked in saying he wanted to kill me for “taking his children away from him.” Wracking my brain as to this man’s identity, I drew a blank.
The take home point is weapons used in play can be fun and even constructive, but if used to hurt others can be damaging over the long term. Teaching children the significant differences between the two is crucial. So my slightly apprehensive self, did indeed, find the very important “weapon” for my son’s Lego man. And yes, I confess, it was a small gun. He made lots of “bang-bang” noises right after I handed it to him and it freaks me out less now than it did before writing this.