“We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years. And each time I learn the news I react not as a President, but as anybody else would — as a parent. And that was especially true today. I know there’s not a parent in America who doesn’t feel the same overwhelming grief that I do.”
– President Obama’s statement on the Sandy Hook School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
I have never been happier to see my daughter than the moment on Friday evening when I picked her up from her Girl Scouts pizza party. I made a beeline for her, hugged the stuffing out of her, kissed her and repeated. The repeat treatment was on behalf of a friend who does not have children, but loves her friends’ children as her own.
When we arrived home, my husband said I had to see the President’s statement. His reddened eyes and how he choked up during his statement moved me. It made me feel better for crying half of Friday. As my daughter cuddled up next to me we watched and listened, I heard that line come from his mouth: “I know there’s not a parent in America who doesn’t feel the same overwhelming grief that I do.”
While that is true, I wanted to see the president talk about the shooting as not just a parental issue. My daughter’s life is full of adults who do not have children for themselves. She is blessed with countless aunties and uncles who worry about her safety and I know worry about all of our children. Most of them understood the “as a father” lines, but for me, those lines not only placed parents at the center of this tragedy, but schools where our children attend.
According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, approximately 100,000 people in the USA will be shot with a gun annually; one-third will die from the shooting. Some experts want us to view Friday’s mass shooting as rare. Statistically, they are. However, I want us to view what happened on Friday as everyone’s problem and as an issue with guns, not just an issue with mass shootings that occur in schools.
As a parent, yes I am worried about the safety of my daughter when I drop her off at school each morning. I pray that the security guard does his job and keeps danger outside the school. Nevertheless, I also want my daughter to be safe when she is at the park, walking around her neighborhood, on the subway, at the movie theater, at the mall and everywhere that gun violence occur.
I live in Chicago and there is a chance we could surpass 500 gun deaths this year. I worry about our children when they are in school, but also as they travel up to an hour to school each way. I worry as a parent and as a citizen who wants to take our country back.
Which is why I was overjoyed to hear President Obama on Sunday in Newtown, Connecticut, say that we are all parents. Because we are. We are responsible for all of them.
Let us work together to make this world a place where children know they are loved, they never go hungry and they feel safe in their homes, schools and communities. Let us work hard to make gun violence as rare as possible.
Veronica Arreola is the blogger at Viva La Feminista.