Thank you Amnesty International for sponsoring this post.
Gun violence is happening around the country at an alarming rate. Every day, hundreds of people are killed or injured as a result of gun violence. As a mom of 6, school shootings are my biggest fear. In 2010, my worst fear came to life as we experienced a school shooting. The aftermath of that left me convinced that we are not doing enough to protect our children.
I will never forget the moment, on a school field trip, when it sunk in what was being said to me. There was a shooter, at the school next to us. Two second graders had already been shot. The police had no idea where the shooter was but it was thought that he was targeting school children and we were there, with over a hundred second graders, out in the open.
The students didn’t understand why we were cutting their field trip short. We pushed them together in tight circles and huddled around them, like penguins protecting themselves from the cold. In that awkward formation, we slowly made our way back to the school, not sure if we should be going towards it or running away from it.
The students talked happily, unaware that anything was wrong. The adults in the group communicated everything with very pointed eye contact, trying to avoid panicking the children. Trying to keep that many calm second graders together was hard enough. Scared kids would have been next to impossible.
My instinct was to take my son, once we got back to the school, and rush back to the safety of our home.
The school had a procedure to follow though, and took all the students inside on lock down, while the mom chaperones stood outside the gates hoping that the shooter wasn’t heading towards us.
Just before school was supposed to get out for the day, we received word that the shooter had been taken into custody. Two second graders had been shot in the arm but were expected to recover.
The crisis was over, but it left behind a deep feeling of fear that we would live with for a long time.
In the weeks and months that followed, my children’s karate teacher would replace lessons about kicking with lessons about running in a zigzag pattern to get away from a shooter. Our discussions at church would focus on forgiveness and not living in fear. A heavy duty metal gate would soon be put up around the school to replace the friendly version that had been in place for years.
Since that day, keeping my kids, and the kids in my community safe. I’ve given a lot of thought to what we need to do as a nation to prevent mass shootings going forward.
It’s a complicated problem, for sure, and one that doesn’t have an easy answer.
In 2016 alone, 38,658 people died as a result of gun violence. That’s unreal. Each of those victims was someone’s child. That’s a lot of collective grief and all of those deaths should have been prevented. We often hear about the mass shootings, but gun violence takes thousands of lives outside of those mass shootings every year. As a mom, those statistics terrify me. It’s not just schools either. Over 100 people die every day in homes, schools and on the streets. That puts our families and our kids at risk no matter where they go, and personally, I’m fed up with that.
Amnesty International believes that you have the right to go about your daily life in security, free from fear. You have the right to be free from discrimination, including from disproportionate rates of violence. And most fundamentally: You have the right to live.
As a parent, I want that, more than anything for my kids. I believe they have the right to grow up in a world where they don’t have to worry about a mass shooting when they get ready in the morning and head out to school.
Amnesty International is the world’s largest grassroots human rights organization. In their latest report on gun violence, issued this September, they’ve declared that gun violence in the United States is a human rights crisis. As a mom, I agree. They are calling on the U.S. government to promote and protect human rights by taking action to reduce and address persistent gun violence.
Take Action. Sign the Petition.
If you want to make a difference in preventing gun violence in your community, it’s time to take action. Amnesty International has started a petition to help stop the spread of illegal weapons. You have the right. You have the right to live. You have the right to security of person. You have the right to move freely around this country without fear.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
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