By: Rev. Trayce L. Potter, Minister for Youth and Young Adult Engagement
As legislators gather to discuss women’s bodies and make decisions about when life starts, tonight there are parents who are left heartbroken and incomplete after the fatal school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The same legislators who are arguing to end abortion and protect developing fetuses are silent and unmoved once those fetuses grow into a living breathing child who needs protection and resources.
None of us will ever truly know what the founding fathers had in mind when the words of the second amendment were written. However, we do know that a decade before the right to bear arms was written, the US Declaration of Independence proudly ascribed “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”
It is time to live up to this declaration and make life (the actual existing and continued respirations that sustain a living body), liberty (the freedom from being held back because of others expectations, desires or beliefs) and the pursuit of happiness (the ability to chase hopes and dreams no matter how wild they may be) a guarantee for our youngest citizens. No child’s life should ever be prematurely ended because of another person’s freedoms.
We may never eradicate hate but we can make it more difficult for those who senselessly murder because of white nationalism and supremacists views or those who are in the throes of mental illness to legally obtain a firearm. Our country has a problem that puts assault weapons and rapid fire guns in the hands of people that desperately need intervention.
It is only when the masses demand reform that pushes for stronger background checks, longer waiting periods between application and purchase of firearms, mandatory safety and training classes with initial licenses and renewals and couple that with mental health assessments that our children can safely walk the halls of educational institutions knowing they will make it home each day.
As the mother of a rising kindergartener I cannot imagine the fear and panic that befell hundreds of parents with the alerts from their child’s school that they were in a mandatory lockdown because of an active shooter situation. I cannot imagine the last hurried hug in the school drop-off line as being the last time I would embrace my vibrant little one. I cannot imagine the pain at the realization the last words I said to my child were full of frustration while I hurriedly rushed them out the door so they didn’t miss the bus again. And yet too many families have experienced every bit of that pain that we dare not imagine.
I grieve with the parents of Uvalde, Texas tonight. I weep for the children who survived and are left with the trauma of the whole ordeal and what is to come. I wail for every shooting that has taken place since Columbine in 1999. We have long passed the point of enough. We have offered thoughts and prayers too many times in twenty-three years. Too many children have missed first kisses, school musicals, proms, graduations and embarking on their wildest dreams because someone missed the signs, denied the possibility, left a gun easily accessible or just didn’t give a damn.
Weeping has endured for too long without the hint of daybreak. I long for a future in which our children have all the firsts without it being their last. May this tragedy grab all our legislators and force them into action because our children are worth it and so were those who died at Robb Elementary School.
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Here are some ways we can build a future in which our children have all the firsts without it being their last:
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