Why is it always "too soon" to talk about how to stop gun violence?
In 1996 another shooting massacre by another security guard killed 35 people, the largest mass shooting in the country's history. By that evening, the prime minister met with advisers and "discussed immediately the possibility of changing the law." Politicians "made gun control the focus of a nation in mourning." Within 12 days, gun laws were changed.
This was not the United States. It was Australia. And Australia has not had a mass shooting since.
In the United States, we post about our "thoughts and prayers" on Facebook, and we change our profile pictures but it's always "too soon" to have the difficult political discussion about preventing another shooting.
Last night I was unfriended by another mom on Facebook because, in response to her "thoughts and prayers" for the victims, I suggested that we should all check out what the presidential candidates promise to do to stop gun violence.
For some, it will always be "too soon" for us to demand more from our political leaders in the aftermath of a massacre.
We need to keep talking anyway.
Here's what you can say to another mom, a family member, a politician -- anyone who tells you that it's "too soon" to demand a conversation, too soon to work hard to prevent the next shooting, too soon to expect more from our politicians, too soon to do anything except come together to heal:
We have a mass shooting in this country nearly every day -- 133 so far during the first 164 days of 2016. If we can't have the hard political discussion about guns in the immediate aftermath of a shooting, then we'll never have it. Because we're always living in the aftermath of mass shootings.
We need to listen to the victims of gun violence and their families. When I see the victims and their friends and families on television or read interviews, their desires are almost always the same: They want their family member or friend back, but short of that, they want this never to happen again. They want justice now. A mom who was interviewed for ABC News, still waiting to hear about her son the morning after the Orlando massacre, wouldn't end the interview without asking, "Can we do something with the assault weapons so that we can stop this club [of parents of shooting victims] from getting any new members? I beg all of you please..."
The opponents of gun control do not want us to have this conversation at all, and that's why they tell us it's "too soon" to talk about policy change. The day after the Orlando shooting, it wasn't too soon to talk about terrorism. Or ISIS. Or, in the case of Donald Trump, about banning Muslims from entering the country. But somehow it was too soon to talk about the one thing that these shootings have in common: guns.
We don't use this standard for other types of tragedies. After plane crashes and natural disasters, we are able to talk about the causes and about accountability for these tragedies at the same time that we honor the victims.
Other countries have acted quickly to start to change gun laws in the aftermath of large mass shootings.
It's never too soon to talk about changing public policy to prevent another mass shooting, and the next time someone tells you that it is, tell them you won't stay silent anymore. We can empathize with the victims; we can think and pray; we can help them and their families to heal. But we can also demand more from our leaders, from the American public, and from ourselves than just thoughts and prayers.
In a tweet, Democratic congressman Jim Himes said that he will not attend another "moment of silence" for gun victims. He said, "Our silence does not honor the victims. It mocks them." He said that God will ask us, "How did you keep my children safe?"
Silence is not an acceptable answer.