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It's the first day back at school after a looong winter
break. (Where did Los Angeles Unified get the notion to give three weeks off in
December?) My daughter and I walk to
school, I drop her off at the back gate, and the dog and I continue our stroll
around the campus. I'm repeating to myself, like a mantra, "Don't stop to chat.
You have to get back to work. Don't stop to chat. You have to get back to
work…" And that's when I see her: an LAPD cop, standing by the school's front
She's making small talk with my neighbor, who is helping to
run the carpool line, and my first thought is, "Gee, I didn't know one of our
parents was a police officer." And then I remember: Oh, right, Newtown.
I am angry that it has come to this, that I live in a nation seemingly more committed to gun rights than my child's safety.
Because we had the aforementioned three weeks off, the
shooting in Connecticut happened on the last day before winter break. I heard
on NPR this morning that the Los Angeles Police Department would send an
officer to every school in the district today. But it's one thing to learn that
when your alarm goes off and you're still debating whether to hit the sleep
button or not. It's another thing to see the armed stranger in your midst five
minutes after you've dropped off your little girl at school.
I guess I am supposed to feel safer with a cop at the
school's front door. But instead, I am angry that it has come to this, that I
live in a nation seemingly more committed to gun rights than my child's safety
in her 3rd-grade classroom.
Ryan Girard, 41, surveyed the crowd at the Crossroads of
the West show Sunday afternoon, a box of ammunition in his hands. "It's
out of control this weekend," he said. "People are just scared of
what could or could not happen."
Girard said he tried to go to the show Saturday but the
out-the-door line was more than four hours long. He opted to come back about 6
a.m. Sunday, three hours before the event opened. He said about 500 people
already had staked out spots by the time he arrived.
"I'll tell you right now, Obama is the No.1 gun salesman in the nation," Girard said. "The
NRA should give him an award."
Of course, there
are other ways to handle it. In 1997, a lone gunman used a semiautomatic to
kill 35 people in Australia. The resulting public outcry spurred a slew of new
gun laws, including a ban on assault weapons and shotguns and tightened
licensing, plus a sweeping gun buyback and amnesty program. The results?
Firearm homicides dropped by 59 percent between 1995 and 2006, according to a 2010
study by the American Journal of Law and Economics.
Look, I'm a
journalist by training, which means I'm most comfortable being politically
neutral, at least in print. But a gal in uniform, ready to shoot to kill, in
front of my local elementary school?