I am still gutted by what happened last week in Newtown, Connecticut. I get a quiet moment and I begin to think of those children. I lie down in bed and I think about those parents trying to rest in a their empty homes. I wake up in the middle of the night and the first thing in mind is wondering what is waking up the EMTs, police officers, and firefighters that responded. This is stressful and my kids are watching the Muppets on TV and our Christmas tree is soon to be surrounded by gifts. I can’t even imagine what life is like for those parents.
How I Manage My Stress
This is stressful to me as I am sure it is to you. That is OK. I would be worried if I wasn’t stressed. I manage my stress by continuing my routines, like running four days a week. Running is a great way to clear my mind. I manage my stress by writing. I have sent letters to my kids principal, the school superintendent, the police chief, the fire chief, and my alderperson. I will talk about the importance of an active shooter plan that is regularly practiced with anyone that will listen. I talk to my wife about how I am feeling and I listen (really listen) when she shares her feelings.
This is Really Complex
Children being killed by guns – one at a time, two at time, a couple here and a couple there or twenty at a time – is a super complex problem. It will NOT be solved with 140 characters, a 5 minute sound bite, a bill becoming law, a petition, a community ordinance, a vigil, a prayer, or banning a clip that holds 1, 10, 20 or 100 bullets. Imaging this can be easily solved only prolongs the status quo that it is acceptable that guns kill children.
(Note: I am aware of the paradox. My writing style is primarily short, quick, and actionable. I write tips, hints, tricks, and links to lots of stuff. In a world of clicks and page views I know great headlines, bold headings, key words, and bullet (sorry) points are for driving traffic.)
I don’t have a quick fix, easy button, or if we just did this one thing solution. If we want guns to never kill children it will take lots and lots of actions by lots and lots of people.
Let’s Start a Conversation: Guns Never Kill Children
This is what I have in mind:
As a gun owner (I am) my guns will never kill a child because I keep my guns secured in my home with a trigger lock or in my hands. The ammunition is stored separately from the guns. I am always looking for advice on how to best secure my guns.
As a father (I am) guns will never kill a child because I talk to my kids about guns. I explain to them how guns are used, I show them guns, and we talk about what to do if a friend shows them a gun. I am looking forward to teaching my kids gun safety, helping them learn to target shoot, and introducing them to hunting.
As a paramedic (I am) I am working to ensure that guns will never kill a child by keeping current on assessment and care of penetrating trauma, advocating for early involvement of paramedics sweeping the warm zone with law enforcement during an active shooter incident and sharing what I learn with other EMS professionals.
Continue the Conversation: Guns Never Kill Children
I want people in all walks of life, organizations or interest groups to explain how they will join me and many others in ensuring a gun will never kill a child.
Police officers, I read an article about how a school fire had not killed a child in more than 50 years. Your brothers in the fire service have figured this out. Have you asked them for help on how public education, building code changes, and inspection can be used to make sure a gun never kills a child.
Firefighters, you already know how to keep children from dying. Fire prevention codes, inspections, and enforcement have saved the lives of countless children. We need your help so guns never kill children.
Paramedics, aren’t you tired of the firefighters getting all this credit for injury prevention and life saving. Get in on the action. What can you do in your community to make sure a gun never kills a child?
Gun smiths, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, and computer programmers, research and design the technical solutions that make sure a gun never kills a child. My smartphone is capable of amazing things. Surely the grip of a pistol or stock of a rifle has enough room for a computer chip and biometric identification.
Clergy, priests, rabbis, and other holy people, share and chant the words that make sure a gun never kills a child.
National Rifle Association tell us how your organization will provide guidance and service to your membership to make sure their guns are never used to kill a child. This would be a fairly easy issue to lead. Everyone loves kids and a vast majority of Americans love guns. This is a chocolate and peanut butter issue. Solve it.
Trial attorneys and insurance liability actuaries share with us the level of damages that need to be won to make sure a gun never is used to kill a child.
Politicians, honestly I expect so little of you at this point, I am pretty indifferent about what you have to offer, but since this is a complex problem and will require lots of solution, what legislation can you pass that will make sure a gun never kills a child?
Make your Own Action Plan
I am a ________. This is what I am going to do to make sure a gun never kills a child.
Write your action plan in the comments, on your blog, on your Facebook page, on a letter taped to your gun safe, or on a whiteboard in your living room. Everyone of us can do something to make sure a gun never kills a child.
Teachers and Principles
As it stands right now the only thing between a madman with a notion of murder and a roomful of dead children is teachers and principals. I have read many suggestions, some even from police chiefs, that we need to allow teachers to concealed carry or actually issue firearms to principals and teachers. Surely we can do more than expecting our children’s teachers (armed or not) to be the only line of defense between a maniac and our children. If the idea of arming teachers is one you agree with I want you to really think that through before you write your support for pistol packing principals. I am not against it, but I am quick to transition from idea to how an idea is operationalized and the risks and benefits of operationalizing any idea.
We Need to Have this Conversation
Kids are killed by guns everyday. Last Friday was unique because many children died at the same time from a shooter they did not know. Your local news is probably the same as mine. Most kids that are killed by guns are killed by someone they know … a parent, a sibling, a friend, or a rival. If we don’t start this conversation now we will never get around to having it because as you have been reading this a gun is killing or is about to kill a child.
What are you going to do to make sure a gun never kills a child?