We are a nation that loves our guns more than we love our children.
Don't waste your time telling me that we are not.
Our inaction over gun violence since Columbine almost a generation ago
shows exactly what we value.
If we truly cared, we would have acted, made changes, addressed gun violence.
President Biden got it right when he addressed the nation
after the horrific mass shooting at Robb Elementary School
in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, 2022:
"As a nation, we have to ask:
When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?
When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?"
I remember only too well when this national horror and shame
burst into our consciousness:
Columbine. Colorado. April 20, 1999. Twenty-three years ago.
And the school mass shootings have piled up non-stop ever since.
Sandy Hook. Stoneman Douglas. Santa Fe. Red Lake.
We are a nation that is willing to endure too many of its citizen slaughtered
by gun violence, because we love our guns more.
I live in Colorado where fellow Coloradans have been slaughtered
in school and in church and at the grocery store and at the movie theater.
Aurora. Boulder. Littleton. Denver-Lakewood. Highland Ranch. Arvada.
All sites of some of the mass shootings in our Denver Metro area alone.
I can't keep track of them all. There have been too many.
We do not act to decrease gun violence and mass shootings.
We live with the risk because, as a nation, we love our guns more.
Almost five years ago, a mass shooter in Las Vegas fired a thousand rounds
from the 32nd story of the Mandalay Bay Hotel
on a large outdoor group of concert goers.
60 slaughtered. 411 wounded. Over 400 more injured in the ensuing panic.
Obviously the bodies weren't piled deep enough, because we have failed to act.
We, as a nation, love our guns more.
How many bodies from hated-based killings, homicides, drive by shootings,
roving killers, suicides, and deadly gun accidents
will it take to outweigh our love for guns.
Far, far more than anywhere else in the world.
Spare me your blather about thoughts and prayers and grief and God,
those of you who take money from the NRA for your political gain.
Those of you attending The National Rifle Association Conference
in Houston, Texas this weekend,
while the truly-grieving parents of Uvalde, Texas
are arranging funerals for their dead children shredded by an assault gun ~
the AR-15 style rifle, dubbed "America's rifle" by the NRA.
You love your guns more than you love our nation's children, citizens, and residents.
Your actions speak far louder than your blather,
as you hold your hands out for more gun money.
"America's rifle" is a rifle that was designed to shred human beings on the battlefield.
As President Biden said,
"Deer aren’t running through the forest with Kevlar vests on, for God’s sake."
Children are our hopes, our dreams, our futures.
They are precious to us.
They fill our lives with love and meaning.
Each one deserves to be cherished and loved and guided and protected.
The parents, the siblings, the extended families who have had children
slaughtered by guns will never be whole again.
That lost child will be missing from their lives for all the decades to come.
They are irreplaceable.
So much joy, happiness, love, and potential ripped from families in a heartbeat.
Gone. Forever. Irreplaceable.
What might the children have become, have done, if they had lived?
Today I quickly pulled random pictures from my extensive collection of photographs.
Most were taken by me. Some were not.
Most of these children are the ages of the Uvalde children who were slaughtered.
They come from around the world and from several generations.
Most are anonymous children who crossed paths with me in fleeting seconds,
children who touched my heart with their innocence, vulnerability, honesty,
their beauty, and sincerity.
Some are personal.
Because it is at the personal level that we can truly grasp the horror,
truly imagine the terrible loss of someone we love and could never replace.
Lost, not just in the moment, but in all the years of our future.
We could start to address gun violence by passing laws
that the majority of Americans support:
* actually providing more funding for mental health screening and treatment
* mandatory and universal background checks
* licensing for gun purchases
* a national "redflag" law.
We have to begin somewhere, somehow to reverse
the tide of gun violence that is drowning our nation.
Gun violence and mass shootings are complicated problems,
and finding solutions will not be easy.
But until we act we will continue to show the world that we are the nation
that loves its guns more than it loves its children.
We can't throw up our hands, give into despair, not act,
even with powerful industries, lobbies, and political forces arrayed against us.
We can't continue like this, huddling and hiding
in schools and stores and theaters and beauty spas.
We must demonstrate that we are a nation that loves its children more than guns.