I had to have the conversation with my kids again last week after 17 people were killed in Parkland, Fla.
It’s the same conversation we have every time a maniac with a semi-automatic firearm goes on a rampage.
Frankly, I’m tired of it.
I want to reassure them that there’s no reason to worry, but can I really do that any more than parents in Parkland could have assured their children they were safe last week? Or a parent in Benton, Ky., three weeks ago? Or parents sending their child to a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, in November?
I want to convince my kids that someone, somewhere will do something to at least try to decrease the likelihood of mass shootings, but I also need to be honest with them. And it’s becoming painfully clear I can’t do both.
After the Las Vegas massacre left 58 dead, there was near-universal agreement Congress should ban bump stocks, the add-on to a semi-automatic rifle that makes it nearly automatic and lets the shooter spray bullets down onto the helpless crowd.
Well, here we are, more than four months later, and they haven’t managed to do even that.
But gun issues are controversial, right? Not really. Last year, the Pew Research Center found 89 percent of adults support preventing people with mental illness from purchasing guns, 84 percent support background checks for private sales and gun shows, 83 percent support keeping people on no-fly or watch lists from purchasing guns.
And not one of those can get through Congress.
President Donald Trump pinned the most recent Florida shooting on mental illness, which is obviously a dodge — other developed countries have mental illness, too, but not the same frequency of mass shootings. But fine, then do something to address mental illness. Nobody even seems to be able to muster the political will to do that.
So maybe what we really need is for our politicians to start being honest. Drop the fakery and platitudes. Stop pretending you give a damn and just tell the truth.
Tell us: I don’t care about your child. I don’t care about you.
Tell us that, while you think children are important, you have better things to think about than the scores of children who have been gunned down.
No single policy or law is going to stop mass shootings, of course, so just go ahead and explain to voters that you are not even going to bother doing anything, no matter how high the bodies pile up.
Explain how important it is that people, especially youths, are safe from violence. But then show us the stack of money, all those campaign contributions you received from the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun groups — $43,550 to Orrin Hatch, $55,700 to Rob Bishop, $18,500 to Chris Stewart, $38,125 to Mike Lee and, wow, $93,119 to Mia Love — and level with us that those contributions are more important than any child lying dead on the playground.
Then after you’ve come clean, go home to your own kids or your grandkids. Put them on your lap, kiss their foreheads and tell them the truth. Tell them you love them very much, just not enough to make even the slightest effort to make sure they’re safe.
Tell your children that, even though Mommy or Daddy was elected to try to address such things and you could certainly have done something, you didn’t, because you just didn’t care enough to even bother engaging in a conversation.
But assure them that when another kindergartner’s brains are being scooped into a garbage bag, you’ll be sure to offer your thoughts and prayers.
On second thought, don’t bother saying anything.
We’ve reached a point where your talk is worthless and your complete inaction already says it all.
Correction: Feb. 22, 2:06 p.m.>> The initial version of this column misstated the source of contributions to Utah's congressional delegation. The figures, compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics reflect donations from all gun rights groups and pro-gun donors, not just the National Rifle Association.