CHICAGO, April 15, 2013 —Parents in Newtown, Conn., are upset that last Thursday Fox TV’s “Glee” aired an episode involving gunfire in a school. Actually, they are upset that the producers aired the episode so soon after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults, and that the producers did not reach out to the Newtown community before airing the show.
The episode, entitled “Shooting Star,” starts pretty much the way all Glee episodes start, just as school at Sandy Hook started pretty much the same way on December 14, 2012. However, as the students at the fictional McKinley High gather in the choir room, two gunshots are heard. The scene is intense as the kids hide in the darkness, recording their final messages to their friends and families.
Reaction to the episode has been largely positive. Most viewers believe the subject was handled with genuine sincerity. No one broke out in song while the school was on lockdown. The fear was palpable, not cheesy.
Some people questioned the timing of the episode with the gun safety debate beginning this week, but most viewers were thankful that gun danger is not being allowed to fade from the public conscience.
Notably, no fictional characters died as a result of the gunshots at McKinley. However, the victims at Sandy Hook are real. And they have only been gone for four months. The pain is still raw.
Parents in Newtown have a right to be upset about anything involving schools, guns and innocent lives. The rest of us have a right to be upset about a few things too.
We have a right to be upset that no matter when “Glee” aired its episode, it would have been too soon for someone. Slate.com reports that since December 14, 2012, the day of the Sandy Hook massacre, there have been over 3,454 gun deaths in the United States, including 237 children and teens. The website was last updated on Sunday, April 14, 2013, so that’s 237 children gone in just four months.
Granted, not all of those children died in school, but the Newtown parents are not upset that the episode deals with a school shooting; they are upset that the “Glee” episode came so soon after their loss and that no one reached out to them beforehand. True, it would have been pretty difficult for the producers to reach out to all of those communities affected by gun violence, but we can understand their pain.
We have a right to be upset that while the majority of Americans now say they favor more restrictions on guns, the officials we elect to represent us refuse to grant us those restrictions. A group of Republican senators, who vowed to represent their constituents, also vowed to filibuster any gun legislation.
The Newtown families mobilized. In the end, the gun lobby money didn’t have nearly as much power over those senators as them having to look the Newtown families in the eye and still say, “No. We will not allow a debate on gun control.” And so the debate on background checks begins this week.
We have a right to be outraged that these senators had to see the truth in the Newtown families’ faces but couldn’t see it when they looked in the mirror. Instead, they planned to kill the legislation, not by making sound arguments against it, but by childishly refusing to even discuss it.
And that was the “easy” Senate bill for stricter gun background checks. The Republicans over in the House will be more stubborn and there are more of them.
We have a right to be upset that children have to walk through multiple gun-riddled gang territories on a daily basis to get to schools like Chicago’s Harper High School, which last year saw eight of its students and former students shot and killed and 21 others wounded.
Is anyone else upset that Harper, the only hope of a future for its students, is in danger of losing one of its two counselors as well as several teachers and support staff due to budget cuts, while Congress keeps jockeying for position with our budget? Or that Harper, which was recently highlighted in NPR’s “This American Life” and visited by First Lady Michelle Obama, is, like Newtown, only a single representative of the many dangerous scenarios playing out on a daily basis in our children’s lives?
We have a right to be upset that guns are so easy for kids to obtain. They can buy one on the street for $50. They prefer the large ammo magazines because, as one teenager who lives near Harper High stated, “You don’t have to aim.” Apparently hunters of all sorts no longer take pride in marksmanship.
We have a right to be upset, but that is not enough. If we are upset, we have a responsibility to act. If you don’t know who your senators or representatives are, look them up at senate.gov and house.gov. Find out where they stand, and let them know where you stand either at their websites or by calling their offices.
If you don’t, you have no right to be upset.
Julia Goralka has let her representatives know her position. Both her Democratic senator (Dick Durbin) and her Republican senator (Mark Kirk) voted in favor of debating gun safety.
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