We must have courage to address gun problem

Dear Editor,

At my local school board (of which I am a member) budget meeting last week, a community member asked, “What keeps you (individual board members) awake at night?” At that moment, I wasn’t able to find the courage to be candid. The weight of what I wanted to say, my sincere answer, felt too great for me to share with my fellow board and community.

As a father of a 3 1/2-year-old, my genuine answer is an ever-growing list epitomized by names such as Covenant School, Robb Elementary School, Columbine High School and Sandy Hook Elementary School.

We live in a country in which there are no parents, guardians, family members, neighbors, friends or bus drivers who are entitled to drop a child off at school in the morning and be guaranteed that their “see you later” will ring true.

The fact that we live in a country in which no child is safe from gun violence at school — the place where safety is paramount to generate the social, emotional, physical and intellectual vulnerability to open oneself up to engage in the learning process. The fact that we live in a country where we are not able to agree about the one common thread of any mass shooting — a gun. And to be very clear, the facts demonstrate that guns are the only common denominator. It is not the shooter. It is not their mental health. It is not their race. It is not their religion. It is not their socioeconomic status. It is not their level of education. It’s not their gender. It is not their age. It is not their political party. The fact that we live in a country where we have the data to demonstrate this, and, yet, we still do nothing different, keeps me awake.

I am a gun owner. I hunt. I inherited guns passed down from my grandfather. However, I dream of the opportunity to watch those family heirlooms disappear if it meant that my daughter and her generation did not have to inherit the epidemic of daily mass shootings.  But that is not the country we live in at the moment. And it will not be until we have the courage to address the real problem: guns.

 The realization that the “see you later” I say to my daughter at her school tomorrow may ultimately be a “good bye.” This should keep all of us awake at night. 

Rob Backlund, Lincoln

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