Our president, Barack Obama, just signed 23 actions on gun control. He used his executive power to put into place measures to help keep us safe — especially our children. As I went through the 23 measures, I tried to pick out a top three or five, but it was hard because each one is important to our national goals.
Among those measures: require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system, improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system, publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers, launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign (sounds like something the National Rifle Association can get behind), review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission), nominate an Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) director, maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crimes and provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.
After every incident, I kept repeating in my head: Now? Is something going to change now? Why not now? When will something be done to help stop this madness?
My brother Gregory Walker Flanagan died at 17 after being shot in the head on a Philadelphia playground when I was 6. I never got to know Gregory, but I will always know the impact his death had on my family. So I KNOW gun violence and how long-standing and insidious the damage can be to our families and communities.
On April 16, 2007, Seung Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people on Virginia Tech’s campus in Blacksburg. Near Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 8, 2011 after Jared Lee Loughner shot and killed six and injured 13, including former representative Gabrielle Giffords, — nothing happened. Then there were the bloody, chaotic scenes on July 20, 2012. coming out of an Aurora, Colo., movie theater where 12 were killed and 58 injured after another mass shooting by suspect James Holmes. On Aug. 5, 2012, there was the shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Cree, Wis., that killed six and injured four.
But Newtown, Conn., changed everything — it has changed the political dialogue
As I left my daughter in Philly on Dec. 16, I was sadder than I usually am. That Sunday morning I even got on this great holiday-themed SEPTA train. It had cheered me up the previous week when I first saw it and I took it as a sign that I would have a great week. And I did: Work went well, I got high points on foursquare, finished most of my holiday shopping and my sister was chosen for a great gift giveaway — thanks to a nomination from me. Overall it was a wonderful week.
Then there was Sandy Hook village. On Twitter you can see how proud and innovative elementary school principal Dawn Hochsprung was. She kept putting her “kinders” in the spotlight. She knew how important praise and positive reinforcement is at that early age. It helps push kids to more excellence in everything they do if they know they will be recognized publicly for good work. She was helping to set a good foundation for them.
Gone now are Hochsprung, who took on a deranged gunman with school psychologist Mary Sherlach, who was also killed. That wasn’t bad enough. Also lost were the four teacher-guardians and the 20 rays of sun that never really got to shine on this Earth. Why?!?! We may never really know what went through Adam Lanza’s head as he shot and ended all of those promising lives as well as his mother’s and his own.
President Obama is putting a lot of money and a very large, political campaign from several corners of our nation behind these efforts.
As we see efforts, plans, task forces, roundtables, meetings, etc. to deal with the issues behind the shootings we must keep the faith and stay the course on many levels. As we used to echo down the line in Marine Corps boot camp to keep ourselves focused and motivated for our mission: “Aim, shoot and pray!”