Letter: Reflections on Sandy Hook anniversary

To the Editor:

I am having a birthday soon but I won’t be celebrating. Why, you might ask?

My birthday is Dec. 14, the anniversary of the tragedy in Newtown at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I will spend some time in prayer and reflection in the sanctuary of my church (First Church Congregational of Fairfield) as I listen to the bells toll, praying, for the grieving families who have lost loved ones a year ago, for the teachers, students, parents, administrators and school psychologists who are left to carry on in courage, for our country which wrestles with daily gun violence and for our country’s leaders and policymakers who help to determine the laws regarding our gun use and safety in this country.

I will also spend part of the day volunteering at my church thrift store as I do most days of the week. I am the manager of The Store, a thrift shop that has been in operation for more than thirty years. One reflective thought regarding my management of this operation: We sure do know how to regulate baby items and equipment in this country! Baby cribs, strollers, changing tables, swings, walkers and jumpers (all items to make our babies safe and comfortable) are all highly regulated for safety issues by law which means we can’t sell them. If we sold one and someone gets hurt, we might be liable. So we don’t accept these items, nor does Goodwill or Salvation Army. So my question is, if our country can regulate baby items so intensively, why can’t we regulate guns (items that are weapons intended to maim, kill or hurt someone or some animal) in a more effective and consistent manner that promotes safety in our communities?

My husband and I have been supporters of the Brady Campaign for many years and more recent supporters of CAGV, Connecticut Against Gun Violence. We do believe there are ways to prevent gun violence in our country. I do not believe as the NRA suggested after the Newtown tragedy that we should arm school personnel. Arming our teachers and administrators is not the answer to thwarting lunatics with guns. Mistakes can happen and can be tragic. Back in 1971, I attended a high school in Chicago, where a nineteen year old young African American man was shot and killed by an armed Caucasian security guard. The young man was visiting the school and walking to the office to get a pass and did not stop as the security guard told him to. The young man was unarmed. He was killed instantly. Our school community and families were outraged. This is an example of an incident with a trained security guard. Can you imagine if a teacher or administrator had done this and how the commun ity would have reacted? Have we learned nothing in forty plus years?

The best birthday presents for me this year would be less gun violence, more reflective thought and prayer and more people feeling safe in their communities. Come on people now — light the candles — I can make a wish.

Marilyn Lord