But it also would be foolish to dismiss the idea that the Sandy Hook shootings won't change something. Our nation's inability to protect our school children from gun violence is not just a basic failure of law and government. It's a personal failure on the part of every adult -- and especially every parent -- in America. Nancy Lanza's love of guns may have given her disturbed son an opportunity to use an arsenal of weaponry to slaughter a classroom of first-graders. But we all have enabled that love of firearms, have nurtured and protected it, at a terrible cost.
Just three days before the slaughter at Newtown, a noted federal jurist, 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner, struck down Illinois's concealed carry ban, the last in the nation. Citing recent United States Supreme Court precedent in the Heller and McDonald cases, Posner declared that the ever-broadening individual rights under the Second Amendment need not concern themselves with casualty counts. On Friday, out of respect for the dead, the flags at the United States Supreme Court were ordered flown at half-staff.
* * *
The most famous and powerful parent of them all, President Obama, understood immediately what the Connecticut school shooting meant. Somehow more symbolically than the Aurora shooting or the Wisconsin shooting or the other Wisconsin shooting. Somehow more politically than the Tucson shooting or any of the other acts of gun violence that have unfolded upon this president's watch. No one who watched his remarks on Friday, watched him wipe away the tears, heard the choke in his voice, can plausibly contend otherwise.
The president teared up when he talked about the lives the young victims would never get to live. No doubt he reflected, too, upon the pain and anger he would feel if his own girls never came home from school one day. I suspect that every parent in America teared up on Friday with the same thought. What if it had been my kid? What would that frantic drive to school be like? What words would the police officer use to tell me my child was dead? What would life be like on the day after I sent my child to school and had to pick up that child at the county morgue?
These are emotions, raw and powerful, and if the president can ever harness them, can ever direct the shock and outrage that tens of millions parents felt this weekend, then what Obama called "meaningful" gun reform wouldn't just be possible -- it would be inevitable. The NRA is a mighty thing. But as mighty as it is, it is no match for the political power of the "parent lobby" in this country. If we parents ever decided to take a stand between our children and the gun lobby, we would perhaps be shielding thousands of our kids from the deadly bullets yet to come.