Guest Opinions

My Idaho family owns guns. But protecting our children must come first.

A woman in Greensboro, N.C., stands in solidarity with victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
A woman in Greensboro, N.C., stands in solidarity with victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. AP

We have, as a nation, stood by and watched as political malpractice has resulted in the death of so many of our youth. As the most recent survivors of gun rage have clearly said: thoughts and prayers are inadequate in response.

Idaho is one of the country’s more conservative states in terms of protecting the right to bear arms. I live and raise my children in Idaho. I am married to a man who owns rifles, a shotgun and a handgun. He has taught both of our daughters to shoot; he has hunted with guns; he has a concealed weapons permit.

We are not a “gun-shy” family. Nor are we members of the NRA. We, like every other parent I have ever met, want to protect our children from harm. We, like every other parent I have ever met, want a chance to educate our children and give them opportunity.

Today, we had the option of keeping our younger daughter home from school because there was a potential gun threat. It came on the heels of the slaughter in Florida. As I discussed the situation with my daughter, she mentioned that another school in Bend, Ore. had a similar threat today.

Over and over, we see our nation’s youth subjected to terror and grief because the adults and the politicians cannot agree to take reasonable measures to protect them. We cannot continue to allow this transgression of basic peace and safety. We are responsible for enacting laws that protect our children, at the very least as much as they protect our right to bear arms.

Most of us agree that the right to bear arms is a basic American right. We must acknowledge, that unless law evolves with circumstance and technology, we put our safety and our country at risk. We also put our rights at risk. I challenge every gun owner and every politician in this nation to question their own intentions with respect to their children and their guns. Which do you care more about, guns or children?

Because you don’t get to choose which school is the next to come under fire. You don’t get to choose if your child or grandchild or niece or nephew is in attendance. And you can’t save them after they are gone.

Idaho, stand up and challenge lawmakers and lobbyists to insist upon real change to protect our children.

Christine Nienstedt is a business owner and the mother of two teenagers. She lives in Boise.

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