Tag Archives: momsrising.org

Locked & Loaded in Need of Reform

kid-reaching-for-gun

This independence day had me questioning, once again, whether we are truly better off as a nation since garnering independence from Britain. I’ve lived in England, and as a parent, must say how refreshing it was not to have to worry about guns. There was no need to call parents before play-dates and ask if the guns were locked in a safe. (My fellow southern moms know what that’s like.) And there was no worry that schools will get shut down as an armed teenage gunman seeks bloody vengeance. Living through a school shooting as a teen has given me an appreciation for just how insane our country is to allow easy access to guns for mentally unstable teens or adults for that matter.

So who is to blame when parents allow children access to loaded guns? And, at what point should our government get involved? Do we lock up parents who don’t lock up their guns? Do we give jail time to the parent who takes a child to shooting range when someone is killed? Do we need better legislation such as age restrictions at shooting ranges?

Yesterday I cried while reading this story about a Florida father who accidentally killed his 14-year-old son at a shooting range. After the video within this story, I saw another video about a child who never got over accidentally killing his baby sister when playing with his father’s loaded gun. Can you imagine? And then there is the horrific story of a nine-year-old girl who accidentally shot and killed her gun instructor with an uzi while taking lessons at a gun range. Nicole Flatow’s article  The Tragic Insanity of Gun Ranges points out that there are no age restrictions at gun ranges and, sadly, no checks are in place to rent guns at ranges. WTF?

“They don’t have to pass a criminal background check. There’s no check of their mental health records, although some require individuals to attest to their mental competence. Many gun ranges don’t even collect names or identification. And that’s not even the worst part,” Flatow reported.

Because gun renters aren’t “in possession” of the fire arms, they are only renting them, no background checks are legally required or allowed. Which explains why one mentally unstable mom in Florida shot her son and herself at a range in 2009.

No charges were filed in any of the deaths that I described. Maybe we should reconsider this? Should it be legal, for instance, to give a nine-year-old an uzi? Is it legal to allow children access to loaded guns within the house? If a death occurs, shouldn’t the parent, the person the gun is licensed to, carry some blame, almost like an accomplice? Shouldn’t their gun license, in the very least, be revoked and some jail time or public service be demanded? Just how are we trying to stop these events from continuing?

Seriously, how many accidental shootings do we need to hear about before making viable gun legislation? Is the NRA that powerful? Surely no one would argue that the 2nd amendment was created to give irresponsible parents the right to give children and teens access to loaded guns? I think not. And should children be allowed to go into shooting ranges? Do they really need to know how to shoot uzis or automatic riffles? For peat sake.

I am sick to death of gun deaths. Over July 4th weekend, shootings occurred in every state, with at least 64 shootings and 10 deaths in Chicago alone.

I found this site called Gun Violence Archive, a non profit organization providing public information about gun violence in America. As of June 18th, there has been nearly 27,000 ‘incidents’. Out of that, 1,500 teens have been killed, 302 children and 1,143 ‘accidental’ shootings. There have been nearly 7,000 deaths by guns and more than 14,324 injuries by shootings. And it’s only July. As the heat soars, experts say shootings increase.  According to TheTrace.org in the summer of 2015, 4,080 people were killed by guns, and more than 9,000 Americans were wounded in shootings. The article Just Another Bloody Summer is eye-opening. Sadly, MomsRising.org calculated that 2,500 children die each year in America from gun shootings.

 

I’m tired of it. I’m almost ready to go back to England. Moms out there, does it bother you too? Are you as disgusted as I am? Most of us moms aren’t hunters or as big of gun enthusiasts as our men out there, but we can vote. We can pressure congress for gun legislation. MomsRising.org is a group vying for rights for families and is behind gun legislation reform. Go to their GunSafety Page to sign up and join their petitions to congress to create affective gun safety laws, such as criminal background checks for all gun purchases.

Lets, for once, put children first in #merica. Do you agree?

Sick and tired today,

Laura

 

 

 

 

Single Moms, What Do You Want from Our Next President?

I was recently interviewed by Huff Post about the single mom perspective on the first presidential debate and specifically about Romney’s comment to discontinue funding for PBS: the home of Sesame Street. (You can read that article and my interview here: Mitt Romney’s Big Bird Problem: Kids Can’t Vote, but Moms Can.) I was driving down I-85 towards Chapel Hill, N.C.—on my way to see my mother whose mind is ravaged by Alzheimer’s Disease—when I got the call from Laura Bassett, a Huff Post political reporter. Even though I had decided to put work aside for the week I travelled home and focus on my mom—I had to take the interview. My mother, a former social worker and political activist, would have wanted me to. We have a clear opportunity to voice our needs right now. It’s very important, moms, even if you’re insanely busy or overwhelmed or just plain skeptical about the political process. Maybe you doubt whether either candidate can actually get past polarized gridlock and politicking to actually get things done on Capital Hill? If you believe that, you may also believe that it just doesn’t matter what either stand for. I’ve heard that argument. But I think that’s a cop out.

I understand doubts and skepticism. But voicing our needs right now can only be a good thing: as America is listening. Politicians are listening. Business leaders are listening.

For instance, I was thrilled when listening to the lighter speeches that both candidates gave during the Al Smith Foundation Dinner. (Here’s a great NYTimes article highlighting some of their best jabs.) It’s clear that Mitt Romney heard our thoughts and our disdain for the idea that he might want to cut funding for Sesame Street when he said: “The president’s remarks tonight,” he added, “are brought to you by the letter O and the number $16 trillion.”

Clearly, momsrising.org was successful in its campaign to galvanize women and moms across the country about this issue. I’m thrilled, because so many of us just won’t get off our nonpolitical couches. Just this week I reached out to single parent groups and to more than 100 women in my network who are single moms to give them an opportunity to chime in. What do you care about, I asked? In my poll to give them a voice, I asked if they cared more about pay equity; affordable healthcare; affordable tuition; affordable child care; the right to choose, etc. It’s not surprising that only a handful responded. Perhaps we are saturated with all the advertising and debates and this messy political process? Perhaps we are skeptical that anyone in the White House can make a difference in our families’ lives? I think the gist to such low enthusiasm—amongst moms anyway—is this feeling that your opinion doesn’t count or matter.

It does.

I hear many of you single moms when you vent to your online parenting groups about a variety of issues such as expensive medical bills for your children that your ex won’t contribute towards; or child care costs you can’t afford; or  tuition payments so crippling you are considering dropping out of college. I also hear from moms who don’t get any paid sick days and can’t take time off when their children are sick from school. Quality, affordable healthcare; equal pay on the job; affordable tuition—these are the important topics for single moms. (And, of course for most women and moms in America.)

Obama said it correctly during the debate this week, when referring to equal pay in the workplace: “These are not just women’s issues, these are family issues. These are economic issues.”

I know I’m not alone in these thoughts. Women across the country did respond. In North Carolina, a single mom was more concerned about quality schools; healthy lunches; keeping Planned Parenthood alive and avoiding war at all costs. In Arizona, a single mom cared most about security with our borders. In Northern California, another mom voiced concern about jobs; Planned Parenthood; and educational opportunities. Finally, another mom of three in Southern California said she cared deeply about affordable health care and student loans.

Again, what do you care about?

Please chime in and respond to my poll to keep the conversation going!