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Of Valentine’s Day, Love and Gun Laws

Columnist Heather Borden Herve takes a look at the new meaning Valentine’s Day will have for thousands in Connecticut this year.

Roses are red, 

Violets are blue.

I love you so much,

I’m headed to Hartford on Valentine’s Day to try and make the world a safer place for you.

Who would have ever thought that one of the ways I’d show my children how I love them is to try and change the world by raising my voice against gun violence. I wish this Valentine’s Day would simply be about packaging up store-bought valentines for them to bring into class and distribute to their classmates, or that all I’d have to do would be to make heart-shaped pancakes before sending them off to school.

But that was before, when sending children off to school meant that they would always come home safely. That was before Dec. 14, 2012, and the unimaginable events at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School, when 20 sets of parents sent their 6- and 7-year-old children off to school and instead of coming home safely, those children and their heroic teachers were brutally shot and killed in their classrooms.

Life is now different and things have since changed. Like moms and dads and family and friends all over America, millions of us woke up on Dec. 15, 2012, as armchair activists no more. I’ll be marching on Thursday in Hartford with March for Change, as a love letter to my children, along with thousands of other like-minded Connecticut residents.

What we’re hoping to achieve is simple: to show state legislators that there are many of us who want safer gun laws enacted in Connecticut, and that it can be done so without sacrificing the Second Amendment. Universal background checks on ALL sales and transfers. A stronger assault-weapons ban. Limits on high capacity ammunition magazines.

The march starts at 11 a.m. at the State Capitol building in Hartford. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will be there as well as legislators and elected officials from both political parties. There will be representatives from communities all over Connecticut who have experienced gun violence, as well as families of the Sandy Hook victims. Colin Goddard, a survivor of the Virginia Tech massacre, and Stephen Barton, a Connecticut resident who survived the Aurora, Colo., shooting massacre will speak as well.

It will be multi-faith, bi-partisan and, hopefully, peaceful. Because that is ultimately what we’re marching for — less violence, more peace and safety.

Roses are red,

Violets are blue.

Guns kill.

My 10-year-old son will be marching at his first rally, joining many kids from around the state taking part. One of the activities leading up to Thursday’s rally was a fundraiser for a 9th grade social studies class from Bridgeport, which wanted to travel to Hartford in order to take part in the March for Change. These students have personal reasons for wanting to attend, as were clearly evident when they each answered the question that asked them how guns affected their lives:

"Guns have taken a close friend from me. Gun violence needs to stop because they are taking the lives of many innocent people and that is not fair. Guns are supposed to keep us safe, but they are doing the exact opposite," wrote one. 

"Guns actually have affected my privacy and freedom. For example, when I ask my mom if I can go to the movies and she says, "oh you can't go because they'll shoot you like the have done to the others." Then there is also the times when there are shoot-outs at Marina Village my mom will come into my room and sleep with me," answered another.

These children will learn that their voices and efforts can be put toward making change, toward impacting the legislative process, toward contributing toward democracy. Just as they’ve learned that there are harsh realities of life that happen to children — sadly, because of guns — so too will they be able to see that they are not powerless, and that there are adults who will advocate for them and help them learn how to advocate for themselves.

On the day of love, I will write a new love letter to my children, promising that a mother’s love knows no bounds, even when it means that protecting them means more than just kissing a scraped knee or making sure they bundle up against the cold. If it means we move mountains, if it means we march on Hartford, if it means we change history, then that’s what Valentine’s Day will now forever mean.

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

Onward to Hartford, because, simply,

I love you too much not to.

dj23 February 12, 2013 at 04:38 PM
You are confusing the means of violence with the cause of violence. Anyone who randomly kills innocent young children has severe mental health problems. What's really needed is a comprehensive review of our mental health system, with a strict examination of the correlation between various medications and subsequent violent behavior. If we don't, the tragedies like the one at Sandy Hook will continue, just using different weapons.
Thomas Crafts February 12, 2013 at 05:32 PM
Roses are red, violets are blue, you'll get my gun from my cold dead hands, and I'll be in Hartford too!
Jeff February 12, 2013 at 05:48 PM
Gun are not the problem. People are the problem- including people who are determined to push gun control laws, either in ignorance of the facts or in defiance of the facts. There is innocent ignorance and there is invincible, dogmatic and self-righteous ignorance. Every tragic mass shooting seems to bring out examples of both among gun control advocates. When you march, please remember Guns are why America is still free!
Greg Burns February 12, 2013 at 07:47 PM
When you go to Hartford ask them WHY they released 7,500 criminals from prison early last year. Ask them about the repeat offenders they do not put in jail, crime after crime. Ask them about the violence we see on the TV almost every night. The ponderance of first responders to most crime in America are not the police, they are armed citizens. Ironically the gun is what we need to protect our schools, movie houses, malls, courthouses, concenience stores, churches, and of course our streets. I would agree that reasonable means must be taken to keep guns out of the hands of crazies and criminals. But care must be taken not do disarm the citizens with guns who are the only people they fear. Many, many more lives are saved every year (than murdered) by people who know they are not made safe and have taken the steps necessary yo defend themselves. You should hope such people are around when you are attacked. Ask your leaders in Hartford what they have done to protect our schools for the 14 years since the Columbine High School massacre. Because of the direction we are heading in America, we will see much more violence. Citizens will have a greater need to protect themselves with guns. Criminals will get better guns and magazines than citizens from a thriving balck market and the drug cartels. The bad guys are not going away, they are multiplying. Ask your leaders what they will do when they pick up a gun to commit a crime.
Eddie Willers February 13, 2013 at 01:29 AM
Usually Valentine's Day is reserved for the one you love most. Clearly, in Heather's case she loves the State most of all, and wishes to express her affection for it. She loves the State more than her own freedom, her child's freedom, and of course the freedom of the rest of us are not even on her radar. What are we when compared to the glory of the State? It is somewhat shocking to see the meaning of Valentine's Day turn away from love for an individual and towards love for the State. I wonder how Heather and company would feel about these "reasonable restrictions" : 1. You need a government license to get an Abortion. 2. Certain types of abortions are to be banned. 3. Lifetime limit on the number of abortions a person can have. That's not going to interfere with anybody's rights is it?
sharoon February 13, 2013 at 08:11 PM
look! over there!! nothing to see here!!!
Michael Cragin February 13, 2013 at 09:30 PM
carry as many handguns as you are permitted to....to protect you from the evil in this world.......but ban assault weapons and all the garbage that activates them into death machines.......our nation is an embarrassment with this issue..........stop the madness.
Jeff February 13, 2013 at 11:37 PM
michael, assualt is a type of behavior, not a weapon. Just because the media invented this term, doesn't make it so. Why do people want such guns? That's easy. For the exact same reasons you want your police to have them, and why your police want to have them. You want your police to have the most powerful guns, with the highest-capacity magazines that work well, and all the ammo they can carry, to defend against some really evil criminals they must face -- who will be carrying the same. Bad guys always use the deadliest weapons they can -- whatever cops have, or more -- law doesn't stop them. That's why you need equality. Your police do too. As arms developed, we the people naturally possessed arms equivalent to what we provided our troops (standard issue and minus select fire which is 3 short burst and automatic). And we have throughout our history done this, maintaining a rational balance of power. To maintain freedom. The government and the public progressed together in harmony from flintlock to cap and ball, cartridge to self-loaders, to where we stand today.

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