I was listening to my favorite news source, NPR, this morning while getting dressed and thought about Judith Viorst’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. No, I really wasn’t anticipating a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day ahead. I was just remembering Alexander’s repeated refrain throughout the book, “I think I want to move to Australia.” (In my case to their southeastern neighbor, New Zealand).
During the newscast I heard Prime Minister Jacinda Arden declare New Zealand will ban military-style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles and high-capacity magazines following the shooting massacre at two mosques in Christchurch last week.
“Every semi-automatic weapon used in the terror attack on Friday will be banned,” Ardern promised, adding that the legislation will be “drafted and introduced in urgency.”
She even referred to the shooter as a “terrorist”, something we tend not to do in the United States. I saw a quip on Facebook asking, “How many mass shootings do there have to be before assault weapons are banned? Just one apparently as long as you live in New Zealand. I think the numbers vary in the United States but as best I can tell there have been 43 mass shootings since twenty children were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012. Other mass shootings– 14 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida; 58 killed in a Las Vegas concert; and 49 at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. And I’m leaving out so many more, none less significant.
Has our government stepped up to ban or even limit the sale of these instruments of mass destruction? Even calls to raise the age limit for purchasing semi-automatic weapons have been routinely “shot” down by legislators beholden to the National Rifle Association lobby.
So that was why my thoughts turned to moving from my Florida home to New Zealand. But then I remembered Alexander’s mother’s response to his refrain, “Some days are just like that, even in Australia.”
Obviously I’m going to stay put. All the people and dogs I love are here. We can’t give up; we can’t quit trying. But if I hear one more NRA supported elected official say, “Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of the victims, I’m going to say my own prayer, “God help me be an instrument of change.”