Jennifer Coulter Stapleton was my first Facebook friend. She invited me to join this new thing called a social network way back on Nov. 29, 2006.
Jennifer sees things before other people. She is younger and cooler than me. She lives and works in the big powerful city of Washington D.C. Jennifer is a media consultant. I love to follow her Facebook page because she is always ahead of the game.
On Dec. 16, two days after the school shooting massacre in Newtown, CT, this is what she wrote: “Okay, I've held my child close and been grateful for every moment with him, I've prayed, I've written to my senators and reps, I've posted my opinion on facebook and twitter. Now what else can I do to make sure no more kids get murdered at school?”
On Dec. 19, Jennifer posted, “Here's one way to channel your grief and rage” -- One Million Moms for Gun Control. The site says: “This is not about dialogue -- it's about action. Let's demand the reinstitution of the assault weapons ban, among other laws that will tighten gun laws in this country.”
Moms are single-minded. Enough is enough. Sandy Hook school has to be a tipping point.
A tipping point is the “point at which the buildup of minor incidents reaches a level that causes someone to do something they had formerly resisted” (source: Google dictionary).
In his book, "The Tipping Point," Malcolm Gladwell defines the tipping point as a boiling point. People in this country are boiling. When babies are gunned down, mothers and fathers take action.
People all over the country, like my friend Jennifer, are asking, “What else can I do to make sure no more kids get murdered at school?”
People want Sandy Hook School to be a tipping point both for gun control and for our nation’s care for people with mental health issues and mental illness.
The questions are these: How long will we remain passionate? Will this really be a tipping point? Or will we return to business as usual? What will make the difference this time?
President Obama sounds serious about taking the lead. Senators who have previously had A+ ratings with the NRA are starting to talk about banning assault weapons. A CNN poll shows that just over 50 percent of Americans now “favor major restrictions on owning guns or an outright ban on gun ownership by ordinary citizens,” and “62 percent support a ban on semi-automatic assault guns and also high-capacity ammunition clips.”
My husband is an avid follower of polls and public opinion. He says those numbers are a bit soft as a result of our emotional response to Sandy Hook. The numbers will fade over time.
I hold onto hope they will not fade. This is why: because my friend Jennifer, while being active in the political dialogue, is also the mother of a fabulous 4-year old-boy named we’ll call Joe. So in addition to flooding her Facebook page this week with articles about gun control and statements urging our political leaders to do something, Jennifer also posted countless photos of her beloved and photogenic son Joe who just celebrated his fourth birthday. She loves Joe just like those 20 parents in Newtown loved their children.
Because of the Joes, and all the children like Joe who have their entire lives ahead of them, Sandy Hook Elementary School must be a tipping point. We cannot go back to life as usual. We cannot forget. We must join the One Million Moms for Gun Control, and every other organization working for change. We must listen to the advocates in our communities who understand mental health care and who can tell us what to do to better care for our citizens.
We cannot risk losing one more child to gun violence. Enough. Sandy Hook Elementary must be the tipping point, for Joe, and all his friends across America.