No, We Don’t Want to Talk to Our Kids About Mass Shootings

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“Just another day in the United States of America. Another day of gunfire, panic, and fear.” So wrote the BBC in response to the news that two married shooters — parents to a 6-month-old baby — killed at least 14 and injured 17 people before being shot and killed themselves Wednesday in San Bernardino, Calif.

At the same time, as the Editor in Chief of Yahoo Parenting, my inbox started filling up with emails from pubic relations firms offering experts willing to speak: “Do you want tips on how to talk to kids about mass shootings?” “Can we teach you some drills to help protect your readers’ children if an intruder breaks into their school?”

Story: Mom Questions 4-Year-Old’s ‘Nightmare’ School Drill

No. We don’t want any of those. We don’t want to sadly tell our children that a mass shooting takes place at least once a day in America, according to ShootingTracker. Or that a drill requiring 4-year-olds to practice cowering in a coat closet is “a routine part of the school culture.”

Or — the hardest to explain of all — that the people we voted for in Washington, D.C., are doing nothing to keep guns out of dangerous people’s hands. In fact, no federal gun laws have been enacted since the Sandy Hook elementary school shootings in 2012, when 20 children, six staffers, and the gunman’s mother were murdered by a troubled 20-year-old. Just four days after a gunman killed three people and wounded nine others at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado, the Republican-led Congress refused to bring a debate to the floor about barring people on the terrorism watch list from buying guns — largely thanks to the powerful hold the NRA has on politicians, to say the least.

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A memorial on the Umpqua Community College Campus, in Oregon, where nine people were killed. (Photo: Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

Each time people are senselessly murdered, there is plenty of sympathy from elected officials — and then no action. It happens again and again.

Story: Kindergartners Get Gun Safety Lesson at School

“Our thoughts and prayers are not enough,” President Obama said recently, in response to a shooting at an Oregon community college that killed nine. “It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel. And it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America. … We are not the only country on earth that has people with mental illnesses or want to do harm to other people. We are the only advanced country on earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months. … Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine. The conversation in the aftermath of it. We’ve become numb to this.”

Story: ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ Not Enough in Wake of Mass Shootings

It doesn’t have to be this way. So what can we tell our kids when they ask us why people are getting killed every day? That we did everything we could to stop it — and that they can get involved too.

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First responders on the scene at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, Calif. (Photo: Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The majority of Americans, regardless of whether they own guns or not, agree that common-sense safety measures should be put into place, ranging from required background checks to minimum-age requirements. We’re not asking to ban guns in the United States, which would be impossible anyway. But you can ask for laws that keep them out of the hands of dangerous people.

Story: Father of San Bernardino Shooter Speaks Out

Do you want to know the name of the congressperson or senator who represents your neighborhood? You can find it here — along with an email address and phone number, to demand action. If you’re unsure of what to say, check out Everytown, where entering your home address will connect you via phone to the office of one of your senators. There are even a few talking points on the website.

No matter what your political beliefs, we are all united by one common goal as parents: to protect our children. Enough is enough.

Top photo: Image Source

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