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Reflecting on the now time-honored tradition of celebrating motherhood the second weekend in May, my heart is heavy with the knowledge that so many mothers weren’t able to celebrate this past weekend. They have only an indescribable heartache to bear . . . all because their son or daughter was senselessly killed by a dangerous person that society knows shouldn’t have had a gun but we allowed it to happen anyway.

You see, my own daughter survived the Massacre at Va Tech just over five years ago after being shot twice in the back of her head. A miracle, really, when eleven of her classmates were killed along with so many innocent lives that day – a total of 33 counting the gunman. Because the shooter’s mental health records were not in the system to disqualify him from purchasing the lethal firearms and high capacity magazines he used in the massacre, he was able to wreak devastation on so many families.

It’s hard to even imagine the pain of losing a child. It’s possibly even harder to wrap your brain around the fact that if our background check system worked properly, the mothers of those 33 victims would have been celebrating this recent Mother’s Day and many more to come. Instead, these mothers will suffer agonizing emotions for the rest of their lives because a dangerously mentally ill person was able to get his hands on a gun.

Can you even comprehend what it’s like to know that your child died needlessly because as a society we allow our elected officials to place more value on pandering to the gun lobby (which opposes any and all attempts to improve background checks) than on our children’s lives? We have the means to do better, but we are silent, giving the impression that we condone the gun lobby’s violent vision for America. We should be mortified and ashamed that we, many of us mothers, allow this to happen.

Incredibly, 5,740 children and teens were killed by guns in the two years following the Va Tech tragedy according to the Children’s Defense Fund report “Protect Children Not Guns 2012.” As a mother who almost lost my own daughter to gun violence, I plead with mothers across America – stand up for the mothers whose lives are irrevocably altered because their son or daughter has been killed by a dangerous person with easy access to firearms. We can and we must do better in this country to protect the lives of our children.


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