On December 14, 2012, my ten-year-old daughter was with me on a movie set in Queens. She had just started her winter break, and because I'm privileged and lucky enough to have a job that's rewarding and adaptive to my family life, it wasn't out of the ordinary for me to bring her to work with me. What was out of the ordinary was what happened that day at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. A young man walked into an elementary school and shot 20 children and six adults in just minutes.
I knew I wouldn't be able to keep the news away from my daughter forever, but I didn't want her to hear it accidentally. I figured I would tell her when we came home and her brother and father were there. I wanted to explain it and not scare her. But how was I going to tell my young daughter that children were massacred in their classrooms? How could I explain that level of atrocity? So I kept the radio off in the car, the TV off in the trailer. I asked hair and makeup, the crew, and the other actors not to mention it, and we got through the day.
And then we got home. She picked up her newly acquired phone, with her carefully considered and limited number of apps and her monitored Instagram account, and asked, "Mommy, did a bunch of little kids get shot today?"
At that moment, it felt ridiculous to me, and irresponsible as a parent and as a citizen, that I was not doing something to prevent gun violence. Simply keeping the news away from my child was putting my head in the sand. I wasn't helping her, or anyone else, by doing that. So I decided to learn more. This is what I learned.
An average of 91 people a day are killed by gun violence. That includes children killed by random bullets, mass shootings at workplaces and universities, intimate-partner homicides, and suicides. Women in the United States are 11 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than women in any other developed nation. More than half are killed by a boyfriend, husband, or someone else in her family. There is a new website, Singled Out, that specifically highlights how America's lax gun laws put single women at risk.
As these instances have become daily occurrences in American women's lives, we feel outraged, unsafe, and helpless. Then, just as we call for more regulation, we are drowned out by voices saying that we would all be safer if the "good guys" were armed.
Where guns are concerned, it is not a good-guy-versus-bad-guy argument. It should not be a partisan argument. It should not be a pro-gun-versus-anti-gun argument. It is not an argument about our Constitution. The Second Amendment protects the right of a United States citizen to bear arms. But a gun is a machine. And if you choose to bear arms, you have a responsibility to bear them safely.
And most gun owners agree: A majority of them approve of common-sense gun-safety measures. Around 90 percent of them support universal background checks. A large majority of American citizens believe we need to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals like stalkers and terrorists. Most gun owners keep guns away from children and store them locked and unloaded in their homes. Most gun owners believe in tighter regulations for gun dealers.
A majority of us are on the same side, so why does our country have a gun murder rate 25 times that of other developed countries?