Sunday, May 12, 2013

On Mother’s Day, Sandy Hook Moms Remind Americans Of The Danger Guns Pose To Children

Four Newtown mothers whose children were killed during the December 14th shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School have a message for the country this Mother’s Day: “We are not going away.”

In a heartbreaking essay, Jackie Barden, Nicole Hockley, Nelba Marquez-Greene and Francine Wheeler reflect upon their childrens’ lives, thank those who have stood behind them and ask others to make the Sandy Hook Promise. They write that while they’re disappointed by the Senate’s recent failure to pass additional gun regulations, they aren’t giving up on their efforts to prevent tragedies like Sandy Hook from happening in the future:

There have been nearly four thousand gun related deaths since Newtown. Too many mothers are spending too much time talking to their children in heaven instead of across the kitchen table….It is time, as six-year-old Ana Marquez-Greene once said, to “let love win.” There are 150 million parents in this country and it’s our goal to unite them in a place of common ground. This is the Sandy Hook Promise.

This Mother’s Day, we encourage you to make the Sandy Hook Promise with us. Today is not about guns, laws or politics; it is about mothers and love. As “Sandy Hook Moms,” we often hear the phrase “I can’t imagine what you are going through.” Well, please imagine it. Imagine what it’s like to lose a son or daughter to gun violence and encourage your elected officials to do the same. We never thought our school, our community or these innocent children would ever face the unspeakable. The more we as parents expand the boundaries of our love beyond our family and to all children, the more likely a tragedy like the one that broke our hearts will never happen again.

The tragedy in Newtown has exposed the threats guns pose to children — not just in mass shootings but, for many children, in their everyday lives at home. In 2010, 15,576 children and teenagers were injured by firearms — three times the number of U.S. soldiers injured in the war in Afghanistan, according to a study by the Children’s Defense Fund. At least 71 children aged 12 and under have been killed by guns in the five months since the Newtown shooting. Several of these have been tragic accidental shootings by other children: on April 29, five-year-old Kristian Sparks shot and killed his two-year-old sister with a rifle marketed for kids. In the past two weeks alone, there have been at least eight accidents involving children shooting themselves or other children.

Proper firearm storage could prevent many of these accidental shootings: if children don’t have access to guns, they won’t be tempted to handle and shoot them. But about 29 percent of households with children under 12 don’t lock up their guns, and nearly half of U.S. states don’t have laws that punish individuals who provide children unsupervised access to firearms. And although the National Rifle Association — which fought hard against expanding background checks and other gun safety measures earlier this year — teaches a gun safety course for children, one of its convention speakers recently suggested parents store guns in a safe in their kids’ rooms.

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