Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What If We Could Do Something That Helped?

As I dropped my 10 year-old off at school Monday morning, I hoped he couldn’t hear how hollow my words sounded to me when I said “Don’t worry. You go to a very safe school.” I imagine others had similar experiences.

My town, Needham, MA, is so much like Newtown, CT in so many ways: affluent New England suburb with close proximity to a major city; many of the working population commute to that nearby city; people move to the town because of the school system; gun owners and enthusiasts are welcome and abide by the laws. When I first wrote this post in December, I thought the one now-glaring difference between the towns was that Newtown is located in a state without a ban on assault weapons and Needham is located in a state with such a ban. Well, Massachusetts does have a ban on assault weapons. But what I have now learned is that there are many qualifiers in that ban, leaving room for residents to legally own certain assault weapons, including the gun used in Newtown.

Originally having felt fortunate to live under that ban, I now see with new clarity the need to strengthen our gun control laws at the state or town level to make an assault weapons ban truly a ban. I wonder if we, as a community, are doing all we can to protect our children while they are in school. Having made that statement to my child on Monday, I know for a fact that a gunman could force his way into any Needham school, public or private, and inflict great harm – with one of the approved assault weapons or any weapon designed to kill.

What if we came together as a community and enhanced our current school safety protocol to be the best it could be? What if other cities and towns could look to us as a blueprint when they try to do what they can on gun control and mental health on the Town/City and State levels? What if we filled the holes in our gun control laws at the Town level, rather than wait for the State to act? What if other states looked at Massachusetts and realized they could outlaw assault weapons at the State level and not have to wait for the NRA lobby to soften? What if we started a formal dialog or coalition with Public Safety, Public Health, Mental Health experts, School Administration, Youth Services, Town Government, Clergy, and private citizens to enhance our school safety protocol and to address mental health issues as they relate to gun control? The goal would not be to make a foolproof plan, but to make, implement and enforce a plan that gives our children the safest school environment we can create without sacrificing their quality of life.

Needham is a special place to live because of the intelligent and talented people who live here who are willing to give their time and talents to further an important cause. I know there are many more towns and cities like Needham. With our talent pool, we could make a difference locally, and perhaps more broadly – so that a tragedy like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School never happens again, here or elsewhere.

I know the problem is not just about gun laws. I know it is complex and involves a long hard look at mental health issues. But I believe it is something that cannot wait to be addressed. Mental health issues have, for too long, not received the attention they deserve. And you may be surprised to discover how many households contain guns in your neighborhood. As an example, there are three household on my street of 30 houses that own guns – and those are just the ones I know about. There must be a way to ensure that those guns never fall into the wrong hands.

As gun stores in New Hampshire (less than 45 miles away from me) post record sales of assault weapons over the last 5 days, it is a sickening feeling to recognize that whatever can be done, can't be done fast enough.

If you live in Needham, watch for an email and a letter to the editor in our town paper from me in early January with a similar note, with a call to action. We have all had enough.

p.s. Please do not comment if your comment includes an unrelated link. I review all comments before they are posted and do not post ones containing unrelated links. Thank you!


  1. As someone who is on two sides of your issue 1) a legal gun owner for nearly 40 years 2) a person who works feverishly preparing school building from people who want to do harm i respectfully disagree w you on your cure

    1. BS
      I agree with you. I have been a gun owner for 35 years. I was raised with them learned how to hunt and also learned the safety rules about them from the first day I had one. When a tragedy happens like this the first thing certain groups want to do is blame the guns. Sorry the gun is not the problem, people are the problem. The gun does not unlock itself from its safe and go out on its own and commit these horrible tragedies, sick individual people do. Banning all guns will not solve the problem. Massachusetts has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, and adding more will not solve the problem. I agree that we need to do something but a visceral reaction is not the answer. Its not the responsible gun owner that these situations arise from it is the uneducated gun owner that cause the problem. In ever situation the weapons used were not secured in a safe, had no trigger locks and where loaded all the time. That is someone who is not responsible. Having a child with mental disabilities and having weapons unsecured is just ludicrous.
      I in some ways agree with the blogger here but you cannot just take the guns away.. It will not stop the killings. I see this blogger listed she knows 3 homeowners on her street. I would hope she would never go over that gray line and name them. That would be so wrong as those people are probably responsible gun owners and should not be made out to be criminals as the mainstream liberal media portrays all gun owners to be. It would be nice if we could all think outside the box and not be so dependent on what the media tells us. Cant trust everything they say.
      Also non gun owners need to educate themselves about guns and not rely on what the media outlets tell them about it.. I am not saying non gun owners need to go out and shoot a gun but don’t give out information about something or discuss something without all the facts. All I keep hearing is semi automatic and when I talk with non gun owners they assume that means that weapon can fire multiple rounds with one squeeze of the trigger. NOT TRUE. one pull of the trigger one round fired. Multiple round fired would men it was fully automatic and by law no one can own, buy or posses one. Yes we need more discussion but we need to open our minds and think outside the box.