My Turn: Banning assault weapons is the clear solution

For the Monitor
Published: 8/31/2019 7:00:07 AM

It’s been about a month since El Paso-Dayton-Gilroy. Admit it, it is no longer at the front of your mind.

I’ve been an RN for 40 years, including 25 as a school nurse in New Hampshire. My son graduated the year of Columbine, my daughter the year after. It’s exhausting to think about the number of school safety committees I sat on, spending money that could never fix the problem.

We wall up our schools, preparing children for the horror that is now part of their lives. The children cover their faces to hide tears during these drills, despite constant assurances that it is only a drill. We do this. Re-think it.

All those measures taken by both parents and school personnel were naïve. We abdicated caretaker roles as parent, teacher, nurse, school personnel and politician to the NRA. They have the upper hand now. We while away the time locked in classrooms thinking we are doing the right thing – an endless farce.

I avoided reading the Sandy Hook school shooting report for years. My granddaughter was 6. Too close. After the shootings of a few weekends ago, I forced myself to read it. As a nurse, I tell parents and teachers to read it – in doing so you will honor those children and teachers who died.

A teacher piled 6-year-olds in the bathroom. They climbed on top of each other seeking safety. Arriving officers thought there was a chance some on the bottom may have survived. No one survived. That is the awesome power of the assault weapon. Our mild-mannered measures do not compute.

We have been sidetracked and zombified into a game of charades. We are complacent now. We scurry around afterward avoiding the real issue. Red-flag laws sidetrack you; mental illness sidetracks you; background checks and even white supremacy sidetrack you. Deranged shooters can’t mow down children without an assault rifle. There is only one thing that can work. So simple. So inexpensive. A ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Period. Nothing else will do the job.

You know this is true. It is the only meaningful thing we can do. We owe our children our protection. We are failing, have failed, continue to fail.

In the interim, the cost of school security has skyrocketed. The rich get richer. Schools hire companies to train teachers on security. There’s big money in bulletproof windows, bulletproof backpacks. The rich get richer feeding on parents who will support anything that will ensure their children come home at the end of the day.

Would we rather see dead children than give up our rights to assault weapons? Can this be true? Your call.

Pro-lifers, why do you not support the right to life for a 6- or 16-year-old at school? Why only in the womb? That is hypocrisy.

We have allowed the NRA to make millions on the blood of innocents. They love the pat-a-cake measures we implement in school. Keeps us otherwise occupied. How about those NRA dues you pay? Your dues paid for silk suits for lobbyists in a boutique store out West. More than $300,000 on one shopping spree. What do you get for your dues besides a decal that says you are a real country gal. You are contributing to the carnage.

When I moved to New Hampshire in 1988, I had never seen a deer hunter. I was a bit freaked out to see my students walking with a rifle over their shoulders on my way to work. Turns out there are many seasons in New Hampshire. Winter, spring, black fly, summer, turkey, bear, moose, fall and winter. I adjusted. They do not use weapons meant for war. They do it responsibly.

No one will ever recover from Sandy Hook or Parkland or the too-numerous-to-list places. Parents, siblings, teachers, police fire EMTs, state and city officials who were called to the scene will not get over any of these shootings. Ever.

Open your eyes. Read the reports. The truth is graphic. Don’t allow them to have died in vain. Do your job. Self-serving politicians who take blood money from the NRA and gun manufacturers are not casting their votes for you, the people who elected them. Let this be a different season. Most Americans want a ban on assault weapons.

Take the power away from the NRA. Stop paying your NRA dues. Read the police reports. Vote. Vote them out.

(Susan Petrovek lives in Loudon.)


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