I couldn’t decide if I should write about what happened on Friday. Shoot, I’m not even sure if I’ll post this. But, if you’re reading it, it must mean I decided to post it. Please remember that these are just my thoughts. The thoughts of a parent of two beautiful children A parent who is tired. Tired of hearing about mass shootings, about people’s fear of losing rights, about mental health access, and from the NRA. I’m a mom ready for change. Ready for people to recognize and put aside their fears and politics. I’m ready for some reform. Please also know, what I’m about to say is MY opinion. If you choose to comment, please be kind to me and I’ll be kind to you. 

When I think about this tragedy, I feel very overwhelmed with emotions. I find myself crying for those who lost their lives way too young.  My heart breaks for the parents. I can only imagine the pain they feel, the emptiness. I can only imagine sitting in my child’s room knowing I would not see her again. I will not hold my boy again. Just this thought makes my eyes well-up with tears. Following this tragedy, every moment with my kids seems more sweet and somehow more important. When I disciplined my daughter this weekend, I had pangs of guilt knowing some in this country, will not be able to do that. I almost felt like I shouldn’t scold my children at all; that all my time should be spent hugging and squeezing them. I need to move on from grieving.

Beyond the grieving, we as a country, must begin to heal and find ways to improve. I know I will never fully understand why something so senseless happened. God only knows. I do know we must take steps as a nation to prevent this from happening again. We must examine what the causes were and address them head-on without fear and politics. Experts need to evaluate and look for trends.

Trends. I know there are trends. I, a non-expert, can see trends in this incident and in the others.  There are two that are screaming to be addressed. An individual with mental health needs which when either unrecognized or under-addressed has hit the point of no return.  They had access (easy access) to weapons. Not just any weapons, but assault weapons. Weapons using a magazine and has the ability to fire off several rounds before requiring a reload.

One thing I’ve learned in my life is nothing is simple. What seems simple is almost always more complicated. Therefor, the solutions are always more complicated. Preventing another tragedy will be just as complicated. There are no one cause but multiple. Each cause reaches out to so many other issues. But whats important is that we address these issues head on. We don’t wait for one more tragedy to touch us personally. We must begin to look at what is the best to keep all people of this country safe.

Here is my personal opinion on weapons and ownership of guns. I believe if you want to own a weapon, you should be allowed to for self-protection and to hunt. There is no reason these weapons should include assault weapons or any weapon using a magazine and allowing multiple rounds to be fired without reloading. These types of weapons are NOT needed to protect or hunt. These are weapons used to do large amounts of damage to multiple targets. They were made for military use and should remain military use. I do believe we should ban these military-style weapons from the civilian market. I’m not saying there won’t be a black market for these weapons, but it certainly would decrease the availability for those like the most recent shooters to obtain access to them.

We need to find ways to reach out and treat mental illness. This country still fights with stigmas associated with mental health. Funding is tremendously low to the point where it is difficult for mental health facilities to remain open. It’s difficult for families to obtain resources. Addressing serious mental health issues is one of the ways we can help prevent these tragedies in the future. I believe we need to increase funding and resources for mental health in this country. We need to make it easier for people to access services and make the services at a cost all families can afford.

One day, we the United States will take action. We’ll remember that every child isn’t just someone else’s child but a United States citizen worthy of protection. We’ll start believing in taking care of all children because ALL children are precious. Not just children, but ALL people are precious. We will stop living behind our fears and stand-up for what’s right. But in order to do that, WE must agree to have conversations. Yes, simple conversations that talk about what we value and what is realistic.

In ending, I want to express my hope for the future. Despite the horror that unfolded, there is hope. Hope for a future without violence. This hope comes from God’s strength provided to the heroes and heroines of this event. Those who protected the innocents. I’m very proud of these people; they responded calm and collected under an extremely stressful situation. They did what was needed to keep those who completely trusted them safe. And to them, a whole country is grateful for the courage this small town’s people showed.