In the wake of the string of shootings and violence that have taken place over the past few weeks, some commenters believe looking at these events from a parent's perspective can provide a uniquely meaningful angle.
"Our family has a message for every parent out there,” Richard Martinez said in a statement, recorded by Business Insider. Martinez is the father of Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, one of the victims of the Isla Vista, California, shooting. “You don't think it'll happen to your child until it does.”
Martinez is not the only one reaching out to parents to enact change.
In his “As Parents We’re All Gun Violence Cowards” on The Daily Beast, William Giraldi argued that while parents are universally horrified by gun violence, especially in schools, they are not doing enough to prevent it despite having more reason than anyone else to fear it.
“More than two years after the hecatomb at Newtown, I’m perfectly confident that my son’s school has no apparatus in place to prevent or respond to a mass shooting,” Giraldi wrote, citing his own experience as an example. “I mostly just cross my fingers.”
We have become accepting of gun violence despite the threat it is to our children, Giraldi continued. “We’re no longer a people outraged to activism unless we are personally affected.”
As a reflection of the sheer number of school shootings in the United States, the company Bodyguard has created bulletproof blankets specifically designed for school shootings.
But there is still some hope for change, according to Salon, especially that brought about by the community of parents directly affected by gun violence.
“Like other parents whose lives have been upturned by gun violence — women like Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, and Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin — Martinez recognizes and is naming the pattern of violence in the most public way imaginable,” Katie McDonough wrote for Salon. “They are the most powerful messengers we could ask for.”
In several instances, parents of shooting victims have united. After the attacks in California, Mark Barden, whose son, Daniel, was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, wrote a letter to Martinez, Buzzfeed reported.
“We have not met, but you are now part of our extended family,” Buzzfeed quoted Barden as writing. “It is not a family we chose, but a family born from the horrible circumstance of losing a child to gun violence—one that’s only growing each day.”
“You will find your own path down this difficult road,” Barden's message continued. “But know that we are here for you and all of you who have been touched by this tragedy. Together we can and will build a safer world for all our children.”
Organizations such as Sandy Hook Promise were founded by the families of shooting victims, and parents such as Martinez and Barden have become prominent public voices on gun violence, arguing for change ranging from increased opposition to the NRA — Martinez in particular has been vocal on the subject, according to Business Insider — to reduced partisanship in politics.
“Imagine what we can accomplish if we check our agenda at the door and just sit down and talk,” Barden wrote in the Huffington Post. “Let's find the common ground and focus on what we do agree on.
“I promise to parent together to build communities that are healthy and safe and better for children everywhere,” Barden continued. “Now I'm asking you to join us.”
Bethan Owen is a writer for the Deseret News Moneywise and Opinion sections. Twitter: BethanO2