In the days since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut, there's been a photo floating around Facebook. It shows a woman with a baby in one arm, a gun in the other, and it's paired with a headline proclaiming her "a wise American mom." I see her, and I see Adam Lanza's mom. After all, Nancy Lanza was said to have created an arsenal of guns for "self defense."
But on Friday morning, it was her guns that police say her 20-year-old son used to shoot first Nancy Lanza in the face, then 26 innocent people at his elementary school, including 20 children no older than 7. Adam Lanza finally used one of those guns his mother kept in her home to "defend" herself to commit suicide.
These are facts. Facts that the crowd defending their right to bear arms in order to defend their families needs to hear today.
Nancy Lanza had an arsenal to defend herself, but it didn't help her. She died at the hands of a madman. Twenty children died at the hands of a madman, died being shot by bullets from guns that Nancy Lanza had purchased legally but couldn't use for their intended purpose.
I have no doubt that Adam Lanza's mother had the best of intentions. She's said to have been a woman who loved her sons, who was doing her best as a mom.
It's hard to argue in the face of demands that people be allowed to defend their families. I'm a mother; I would go to the ends of the Earth and back to defend my child. I understand the passion behind the argument.
Sadly, unfortunately, a passionate argument does not necessarily make for a solid one. We have the right to defend our families, but we don't necessarily have the means.
Because guns, even guns purchased for self defense, do not defend us.
I speak not only of the case in Newtown, Connecticut, of the death of Nancy Lanza at the end of her own gun. As horrific as Adam Lanza's rampage is, the shooting of his mother could be marked as merely anecdotal by some, a blip on the radar in terms of guns being turned on their owner, if it weren't for the statistics.
Take, for example, the study published in the Southern Medical Journal in August 2009. Completed not by politicians or lobbyists, but by members of the Department of Psychiatry at the Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and folks in the Departments of Psychiatry and Emergency Medicine, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, Kentucky, it takes a real look at the safety provided by firearms in the home.
Out of 395 gun-related fatalities inside the home during a certain period, 333 were suicides. Another 41 were domestic violence-related deaths, and 12 were accidents.
That's a 97 percent tragedy rate. Ninety-seven percent!
Compare to that the fact that 9 of those deaths were actually shootings of an intruder. That's 2 percent.
So 2 percent of gun owners gained the ability to defend themselves by owning a firearm compared to 97 percent who suffered tragedy, who saw lives lost. And this is what we're fighting for?
This is what Nancy Lanza died for? What Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung died for? What 20 innocent children died for?
For the 2 percent chance that owning a gun will make you safer, and the 97 percent chance that the gun you own for safety will tear your family in two?
I don't call that a "wise" mom's choice. I call that the choice of a mom burrowing her head in the sand.
Yes, we have the right to bear arms. But is there really any point?