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Protect the children, stop the flow of weapons

MAYOR DAVID N. DINKINS | 12/20/2012, 1:39 p.m.
Protect the children, stop the flow of weapons

Most people know that our children and their well-being have always been my highest priorities--not solely because they are our future, our moral compass and our nation's wealth, but because they are innocents who deserve to be loved and cherished as, in simpler times, we were loved and cherished.

Having brought them into this changing world we understand that, while it is our joy to watch them grow and our pride to witness their baby steps, it is also our obligation to protect them and keep them safe until they hit their strides--an obligation made more difficult by a society where wartime weapons are increasingly as likely to be found in private homes and cars as on fields of battle.

We devote considerable attention to our children's schooling, their health and their values, their upbringing. Most people who are fortunate enough to live in relative comfort are so intent and focused on caring for our children that we don't often consider that there may be others intent upon robbing them of their innocence, their dreams. Others of lesser means, who live in fuller awareness of the dangers around our children, may feel helpless to keep them from harm's way despite their vigilance.

The Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy reminds us of the need for us all to refocus our attention on creating a safer, gun-free society for our children's survival, regardless of where we live. The inexplicable actions of an unstable assassin leave us shaken and saddened, but they should not leave us speechless and unresolved to stop the flow of weapons into the hands of his fellow gunmen in the future.

We must each become advocates for those who wish to keep themselves and their families from harm's way, but who find obstacles in the National Rifle Association and its gun lobbyists that promote (as Mayor Michael Bloomberg called it) "god-awful pieces of legislation" that gut programs that cities need to keep our residents safe--and contribute to the deaths of more than 30,000 Americans every year.

We applaud everyone associated with efforts to rid our communities of the plague of gun violence and prevent the 200 million private guns from being used as weapons of mass destruction, as they were against the 20 children in Connecticut last week.

We don't own the planet, we merely hold it in trust for our children, and we work hard to leave them something of value. What better legacy than that of the freedom to walk safe streets in cities safe for kids--and freedom from fear.