By Jennifer Rego
This weekend, I joined the students from March for Our Lives/50 Miles More in marching to the Smith & Wesson headquarters in Springfield. The march included hundreds of young activists, fighting to create a safer country for all of us, fighting to pass sensible gun laws in our state and in our nation so that we don’t have to continuously send out “thoughts and prayers” to the families whose loved ones have fallen victims to gun violence.
I came home from the march, inspired and driven to do my part in making sure my legislators hear from me about keeping the issue of gun reform at the top of their priority list.
Just a couple hours later, I turn my attention to the news only to hear that the lives of more innocent people have been taken due to yet another shooting, this time in Jacksonville, Florida. When will enough be enough?
As a daughter, as a wife, as a mom, as a person – the issue of gun violence is incredibly important to me. As school is starting back up again, I reflect on what this year will have in store for my daughter.
I reflect on the fact that this year, there have already been 23 school shootings across the United States where someone was hurt or killed. School – the place where parents send their kids off to five days a week for six or more hours a day, expecting their kids to come home to do their homework, to talk about what happened at school, to talk about what new things they are learning.
What happens if there is a school shooting? What happens if this time, it’s my kid? This question stops me dead in my tracks. It terrifies me to no end.
My daughter has recently turned 8 years old. She loves Legos and adores school, she excels in math. She is a sweet, kind, loving girl who wants to be friends with everybody. She loves her friends and her family.
She is entering 3rd grade this year with a mixture of excitement and nervousness.
I am excited and nervous too. Excited to watch her continue to grow and learn. But nervous that I may someday get a message that a gunman has taken over my daughter’s school.
Nervous that one day, I may drop her off to school with a kiss and an I love you and it may be the last time I ever get to do that.
Gun violence and school shootings is a subject that is absolutely terrifying to me that I (and many parents) don’t even know how to broach it with our children.
I can handle “THE talk”, I can handle explaining that there are bad people in this world that do bad things, I can handle explaining the historical inaccuracies that she learns in school, I can handle talking to her why some of her friends have two mommies or daddies, or none at all, I can handle explaining what transgender means… but I cannot handle telling my daughter that there are people who care more about their guns than they do about her life. That someday, she may be forced to hide, watch her friends & teachers die, maybe even die herself so that someone can have a gun to play with.
It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a community to speak out for sensible gun laws, ones that can decrease the risk of children being shot and killed in schools. I want to believe that I live in a community that will understand that the lives of our children are more important than unregulated gun ownership.
I want to believe that a school shooting will never happen where I live, not to my family, not to my daughter. There is never a guarantee in life, but there is always something to be done about a problem, steps that can be taken to increase the safety of kids and families. Massachusetts, we must be proactive.
I choose kids over guns, I choose to keep fighting until sensible gun legislation is passed in my state and in my country, I say we owe it to our children to do better. Enough is enough.