By Brian J. O'Connor, Tribune Media Services
9:30 AM EDT, September 30, 2013
I thought the world was supposed to end last Friday, which would have very conveniently got me out of doing any Christmas shopping. But here we all are on Dec. 24, with me getting decked at the malls.
So, thanks for nothing, Mayans.
That's all the humor I've got this week because the world did end for some people this month, namely the families of the six adults and 20 little boys and girls shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. This will stand as one of our national tragedies that prompt us to remember where we were when we heard the news, as we do with the September 11 attacks and JFK's assassination.
Armor under the tree
I don't remember where I was when I heard about the school shooting. All I remember is thinking about where my kid was: in a grade school just like Sandy Hook, and just as vulnerable to America's boundless supply of kooks and guns.
The tragedy has provided some grim Christmas shopping for me and many other parents: kid-sized body armor and bullet-proof backpacks. Salt Lake City-based company Amendment II reports that sales of its $300 bullet-proof Ballistic Backpack increased more than 500 percent since the Dec. 14 school massacre.
Rather than armor up, a friend of mine says that the shootings prompted her to consider home-schooling her kids. Other people advise that I should add something else to my gift-shopping list: a gun.
It's obvious that the answer to too many guns in America isn't more guns, but neither is an armor-plated book bag or a home-school bunker. Strangely, the answer came to me while listening to the all-Christmas radio station, from a singer gunned down in an earlier December: John Lennon. There was the late Beatle, singing, "War is over / If you want it."
The war on kids
There is a war on our children -- just look at the horrific number of school shootings since the 1999 tragedy in Columbine, Colo. And that's not counting youngsters shot in other mass shootings (70 since the beginning of 2011), such as the 15-year-old girl that was seriously wounded in an Oregon mall assault three days before the Sandy Hook slaughter. It's a war that should be over. If we want it to be, it will be.
Since this is a personal finance column, let's start by making an investment in preserving our kids' lives. You can donate to one of the national campaigns to prevent gun violence, for a start. To donate something more valuable than money -- your vote -- wait until the next primary election and be sure to vote out those candidates who've vowed to do the gun lobby's bidding.
This isn't the humorous, heart-warming Christmas Eve column I'd planned, but then again, I'm looking up bulletproof backpacks for kids today. But as another song goes, "Christmas was meant for children."
(Brian J. O'Connor is an award-winning columnist for The Detroit News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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