And Yet Another School Shooting

April 11, 2017

Mai-Khanh Tran, MD, pediatrician, educator, mother
Member of Progressive Vietnamese American Organization, PIVOT
Member of Vietnamese American Democratic Club, VADC, of Orange County

My heart stopped for a brief second.  Then I felt the punch to the stomach, the way I felt when I first heard of the Sandy Hook shooting almost 5 years ago.  Another elementary school shooting?  Another shooting in San Bernadino?  I wept then and I am weeping now.  And despite all the tears and the moving words spoken by our elected leaders, there has been no new gun control legislation since that horrific day.  So no more weeping, this mama-bear has to speak up.

I do not need to repeat the number of deaths due to gun violence over the years.  It is just simply too many.  I do not need to recall the impact of these deaths on our communities and families.  It is just simply too much.  I do need to remind people that guns kill and that the US has some of the most relaxed gun control laws anywhere in the civilized world.  Guns, in the wrong hands, kill more and kill faster.  And guns, usually, not all the times, but usually find themselves into the wrong hands.

I respect the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms.  But society has evolved, technology has changed so much that the right to a violence-free life—the right to a safe school, the right to protect your child, the right to see your children grow up—should supersede that.  And no one wants to take away the Second Amendment right.  We just want enough common-sense restrictions on it to make sure that everyone’s rights are equally protected in a complicated society.

After the largest mass-shooting in US history in Orlando, Senator Murphy from Connecticut, home of Sandy Hook, spoke passionately for 15 hours straight in an effort to mobilize fellow law-makers to pass legislations to keep guns from high-risk individuals:   to expand universal background check, to add information on mental health records to a national database, to require background checks on those buying guns at gun shows and online, and to have provisions alerting authorities when individuals on government terror watch list want to buy guns, all common sense, nothing extreme.  Yet nothing passed, nothing changed.  My heart broke for Senator Murphy that day and it breaks again today for all the parents of school-aged children whose hearts stopped beating for a brief moment when we heard the words “school shooting.”  I wept uncontrollably today when I saw the all-too-familiar picture of little children, holding hands, walking across the schoolyard in single-file, like prisoners, prisoners of a gun-violent world.

But no more weeping, this mama-bear asks that all the mama-bears, and papa-bears as well as other relative-bears, go home and hug your children today, then go to your Congressman’s office and ask “where do you stand on common-sense gun control laws?” and “why are you not doing more to protect our children?” tomorrow.