I spent my childhood in Preston, Connecticut. It is a small town — like Newtown — with a picturesque landscape that looks like a Christmas card come to life.
I went to school in Poquetanuck Village, where my teachers made sure I knew I was loved. And I spent my summers swinging on ropes and climbing trees and eating fresh strawberries from the backyard patch.
On Saturdays, my father would work in the garden. He would grow all those icky vegetables I never wanted to eat. But soon, he had to build a fence around the garden ’cause some animals were eating our food.
When he discovered that the animals were digging under the fence to get our food, my father decided he’d had enough. One night, he put his coat on, got his rifle, and was going to go outside to shoot the animals eating our food.
But, when his little girl realized that he was going to kill the animals, she cried. She cried so hard. She begged him not to kill the animals. And my father, holding his precious little girl as she cried in his arms, listened to his child.
My father never did go outside that night. And it wasn’t too long afterwards that he got rid of his rifles.
My father chose the heart of his child over his right to bear arms.
Being a father was more important to him than being a man.
Today, America — on Christmas Eve — our children are crying. They are wailing in agony and with anguish. They are screaming and begging and pleading for us to choose their innocence over our arrogance.
And today, we stand at the threshold of history. The world we thought we knew, and the one we had hoped to leave to our children, is gone forever.
Because The Newtown Massacre left twenty children dead.
And six adults.
There is no going back. And I have no doubt that future generations will look back upon our actions today and see these crucial hours as the ones that will have shaped their world and defined their destiny.
Our decisions in the midst of this tragic midnight will bless, or curse, our grandchildren. They will see our faith and our courage or our fear and our cowardice. They will see us as the ones who demanded a sincere, rational set of well-regulated laws or an insane, obscene reaction that hopelessly passed our horrific sins onto our children and grandchildren.
We will be the ones who accepted responsibility for the pathetic, violent gun culture we created that killed those twenty precious kids or we will be the ones who denied our sins and always blamed somebody else for the horrors we have created.
We will be the ones who stood in unity to protect our children or we will be the ones who betrayed their future to our fears. And we will be the ones who supported The Second Amendment or we will be the ones who backed The NRA.
Because for far, far too long, The NRA has claimed an exclusive interpretation of The Second Amendment. They boast four million members, but three hundred and forty-six million Americans have a different interpretation.
And that one percent of the population will no longer dictate how the other ninety-nine percent of us live or think. Because we are not naive enough to think that guns, more guns, and even more guns — and putting guns in our schools — will solve the gun problem.
The debate is over. And the conversation has ended. The only question left concerning gun control is, How quickly and effectively can it be done?
We have seen the horrors of our sins, our very own culture of violence, visited upon our precious children. And this is a knowledge we cannot lose.
From this moment forward, every citizen of The United States bears the burden of, and shares the responsibility for, the massacres that take place on our soil.
Because we know. We know, and we have seen, our own evil. We must act, and responsibly so, in these most crucial hours. Our children, our only future, depend upon us to do it right and to get it done.
The Newtown Massacre proved it: America must, like my father, chose our children over our right to bear arms. We must put their innocence before our arrogance. No decent, loving parent would dare to disagree.