Opinion

I Have Lost Faith In America | Opinion

My name is Jennifer Guttenberg. I am a wife and proud mother of two wonderful children. Or should I say I was. Now I have only one child living here on Earth. You see, my 14-year-old daughter Jaime went to school one day but never came home because she was hunted down in cold blood by a murderer. This won’t even come as a shock to anyone who lives in America, because it is now an everyday occurrence.

Seventeen students and staff were murdered in Florida, at a school in a town where children have everything that they need. A place in which “these things don’t happen.” But yes, they do.

We are currently living in a country where these things occur way too often and our leaders simply do not care.

We live in The United States of America. Let me give you a few definitions of “united”:

  • relating to or produced by joint action
  • joined together politically for a common purpose or by common feelings
  • when people agree and act together.

Now I ask you, do any of these definitions sound like a description of our current government? America is supposed to be the best county in the world. It is a democracy, so “they” say.

Let’s also review the definition of a democracy:

  • a system of government by the whole population
  • a government by the people
  • a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation.

Let’s review our current government. According to a poll on February 20, just six days after the murder of my daughter, 66 percent of Americans support more stringent gun legislation. There have been many polls like this since the mass shooting at my daughter’s school, and every one shows the majority of Americans are in favor of common sense gun reform. Why do the majority of our legislators not support those that elected them? Does this sound like a “democracy” to you?

jaime_guttenberg012 On February 14, 2018, 14-year-old Jaime Guttenberg was murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Jennifer Guttenberg

So, we now move on to the definition of “common sense”:

  • Good sense and sound judgment of practical matters
  • Sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation.

There have been 293 mass shootings this year, as of October 27. Just two days ago, 11 people were killed at a place of religious worship in Pittsburgh. We also must not forget the daily shootings that may kill a single person, but don't get reported.

When will enough be enough? When will the safety of Americans be the number one priority in this country?

I’m sorry to say that I have lost faith in America. We are led by a president who spends more time sending insulting tweets than he does listening to the needs of the people. He spends more time golfing than visiting families of the victims of gun violence. He spends more time worrying about his approval ratings than he does making decisions that Americans approve of. He spends time meeting only with Americans who support his opinions, and refuses to listen to the needs of the many Americans who don’t. If you ask me, this feels more like a dictatorship than a democracy.

What about the other members of our government? Where are they in the decision making? Oh that’s right, they are more interested in themselves. Many of them receive money from the NRA and are more interested in keeping themselves well-funded than they are about the safety of the people. They go against their own beliefs for money. They are protected by armed guards but expect the rest of us to walk around unprotected and living in fear. This system is corrupt. The NRA should have no place in it our public safety decisions. When President Trump learned about the undetectable 3-D weapons he said he would look into it by talking to the NRA. Why wouldn’t he reach out to his administration?

Years ago, the Republicans and Democrats made an effort to work together. They may have had some different beliefs, but they came together for the good of the people. At least, that’s what I was always taught in school. That we lived in the BEST country in the world. Until the government and the people they stand for can unite again, we cannot say that.

Every day I hope that this will change. I hope that by hearing the desperate families who have lost their children, spouses, siblings, and parents, that at least a few of them will really listen.

Maybe they hear the cries of fear, of horror, of disgust, but they don’t really listen. They hear the clanging of change in their pockets instead.

They haven’t sent their child to school only for her/him not to return home because a madman had a weapon of war. Maybe they were lucky the last time they went to a movie theater, concert, church or temple, but many others were not.

They don’t care about the warning signs and they don’t listen when the citizens are telling them that someone seems to be dangerous. Dangerous people, those who have a violent history or have made threats of killing others, should not have guns in their possession.

Mental health care in this country is subpar and needs attention. Now. Services must be readily available to address mental health issues before some dangerous individuals are able to do harm.

Why is this all so difficult to understand?

GettyImages-1054982694 A woman stands at a memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue after a shooting there left 11 people dead in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh on October 27. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Kids should not have access to weapons in their homes and their parents need to take the responsibility for them. The age to purchase a gun should be raised to 21, the age when they are considered responsible enough to drink a glass of alcohol.

There should be effective background checks before being able to purchase a gun or ammunition. Why would anyone even argue this point? If you are a lawful gun owner this doesn’t affect you.

Nobody is trying to do away with the second amendment. So calm down and listen. Please, listen to this mother who no longer has her daughter. She will be forever 14 while her 20-year-old killer sits in a protected cell.

We must have change in this country. We must come together as one. Compromise is everything. We need to meet in the middle. All of the children and adults I know think about gun violence every time they step out in public. This is unacceptable considering we live in America. Land of the free! Home of the brave!

How can we feel free when we feel we have to look over our shoulder and worry that we may never see our loved ones again when they leave the house? How can we be brave when dangerous people who shouldn’t possess guns are out there walking amongst us, armed?

Please help me to feel proud of our country again. It’s all that I have left since my beautiful daughter is gone forever. Please keep my son safe, and the rest of my family and friends. Vote “orange” in November in favor of candidates that support common-sense gun safety…it’s common sense. Vote like your life depends on it—because it does.

Jennifer Guttenberg is the mother of Jaime Guttenberg and the founder of Orange Ribbons For Jaime.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.​​​