And so I wonder if we're ready for the pragmatism today. Let's give it a try.
For most of us, one of the critical issues that needs to be addressed is to enact sensible gun laws that will make these kinds of events less likely. The question that raises for me is "what gun laws?" Of course we need to work to get the assault rifle ban reinstated. According to every news account I've read, the shooter did have an assault rifle -
We also know that a background check and/or license should be necessary to own a gun. But the guns used yesterday belonged to the shooter's mother and were purchased legally. I'm not sure that a background check and/or licensing process for her would have made a difference. And so we need to go beyond that.
The two guns that were used yesterday at the school were handguns - apparently with semi-automatic capacity. Apparently it was this feature that allowed him to get off what witnesses describe as over 100 shots. Since its probably not likely that we'd get a ban on handguns, perhaps the other step would be to outlaw those with semi-automatic capacity.
So I'd suggest that the three things we need to advocate for are:
- A ban on assault rifles
- A background check for every gun purchase
- A ban on semi-automatic handguns
Those with more knowledge of guns might want to weigh in if I'm showing my ignorance here.
One of the things you'll hear the President talk about is a comprehensive strategy for violence prevention and the initiatives his administration is taking - without the need for congressional approval. He's talking about things like the collaboration between the Departments of Education and Justice to form the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, which has led to things like this.
But of course he didn't let us as individuals off the hook either. As I wrote about at the time, he told us that we each have a role to play as well.
So I’m going to continue to work with members of both parties, and with religious groups and with civic organizations, to arrive at a consensus around violence reduction -- not just of gun violence, but violence at every level, on every step, looking at everything we can do to reduce violence and keep our children safe -– from improving mental health services for troubled youth -- to instituting more effective community policing strategies. We should leave no stone unturned, and recognize that we have no greater mission as a country than keeping our young people safe.So there you have it - my homage to the pragmatism of actually getting something done for those who are interested in moving forward.
And as we do so, as we convene these conversations, let’s be clear: Even as we debate government’s role, we have to understand that when a child opens fire on another child, there’s a hole in that child’s heart that government alone can't fill. It’s up to us, as parents and as neighbors and as teachers and as mentors, to make sure our young people don’t have that void inside them.
It’s up to us to spend more time with them, to pay more attention to them, to show them more love so that they learn to love themselves -- so that they learn to love one another, so that they grow up knowing what it is to walk a mile in somebody else’s shoes and to view the world through somebody else’s eyes. It’s up to us to provide the path toward a life worth living; toward a future that holds greater possibility than taking offense because somebody stepped on your sneakers.
That’s the difference that we can make in our children’s lives and in the lives of our communities. That’s the legacy we must leave for the next generation.