The Covenant School shooting in Nashville happened right in my backyard. The red and black bows in the school’s colors remain on mailboxes up and down my street after that tragedy in late March, when three children and three adults were gunned down. Not long after the shootings, thousands of people of all ages linked arms over 3 miles of downtown Nashville to get the attention of our Tennessee Legislature. We were outraged that our state representatives did nothing to address guns before their session ended.
Some of our politicians have responded, although not entirely as I might have expected. Gov. Bill Lee announced a special session of the state Legislature to be held in August on ways to “strengthen public safety and preserve constitutional rights.” When that session is held, all eyes will be on our gun-loving red state, home to three firearm manufacturers. Stay tuned.
And a few weeks back, Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee suggested that grandparents arm themselves to help protect schools. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the notion. It seemed farcical and yet sadly tragic, too, that she had no better solutions.
I believe grandparents would be more useful, and would be better able to get the attention of lawmakers, if we did more than just guard the door.
We could write letters and make phone calls in support of red flag laws, talk with people who own guns, educate ourselves and others about extreme risk protection, and insist on universal background checks before a gun purchase, because in my home state and many others across the country, we have none of that.
I know that there is a lively discussion about older people in public life, but we elders know a thing or two. We have tools that life has afforded us. We might be civic, neighborhood or church leaders.
And our wisdom should be tapped as we strive to achieve a solution to a seemingly intractable problem. We can help show a broken country how to overcome differences with selfless persistence and love of community.
At the very least, we have to try.
— Anne Byrne in America’s grandparents have the answer to gun violence