Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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I’m sorry, but as a mom, I just can’t find the words when it comes to these senseless killings at schools. At schools! My heart breaks for the families of those children lost at Robb Elementary in Uvalde.


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You do not have to be a mom to become outraged about killings at schools. A place that should be a safe haven for students and teachers. A place that should instill the love of learning – not the fear of dying.


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Yes, but as a mom, it’s beyond comprehension. You can’t help but think, what if it was my child? When I see the faces of those lost fourth graders, I find myself welling up with tears. I think of my girls at that age. And what those parents must be going through.


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I am not warm and fuzzy, yet I thought the same things. And, I thought about parents walking past empty beds. Even if you are not a parent, you cannot help but think about siblings and nieces and nephews, your friends and neighbors and their children. And grandchildren. It is not about being a parent – it is about being human.

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I felt the same way about Sandy Hook back in 2012. I can remember hearing about Columbine in 1999 as I was living overseas, and several people asked me how such a thing could happen in the U.S. I didn’t have a good answer then. And I still don’t. In fact, it’s only getting worse. When are we going to do something?!

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Excellent question. One many people are asking. Within hours of the Uvalde shooting, I heard two very passionate pleas from people with very different backgrounds – Steve Kerr, N.B.A. head coach (Golden State Warriors), who refused to talk about basketball in a pre-game interview, and Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat begging for bipartisanship to find common ground and take action.

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Well, I know that everything’s become so divisive, but doing something about all these mass killings – whether schools, churches, grocery stores, even a medical center, the list seems to be endless – should be something they can agree on. I just can’t get my head wrapped around why we keep doing … nothing! And I keep thinking about how you’ve always told me that doing nothing IS a decision. A decision to do nothing.

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Actually, I say, “It is a decision to maintain the status quo.” However, the challenge is finding areas of agreement, which may explain why Congress has done nothing over the last decade. Meanwhile, the number of mass shootings (which seems to be an American phenomenon) continues to increase. There have been over 200 this year alone, and the year is not even half over.

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You’re the one who loves numbers and statistics, but even I know that’s more than one a day. I’d think better gun control would be the answer. And before you say anything, I’m not against guns; I’m against high-capacity high-speed weapons. I don’t think any civilian needs them. Ever.

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Some people argue it is not a gun issue; it is a mental health issue. So, if you attribute our mass shootings to mental health issues, would it not make sense to do background checks and restrict those individuals from having guns?

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Talk about stating the obvious! Although clearly, it’s not obvious to the politicians who don’t want expanded background checks. I’ve learned that the House of Representatives approved background legislation over a year ago but that it’s just sitting in the Senate. And what about assault weapons? Shouldn’t those be outlawed?

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How much do you know about constitutional law? And, the Second Amendment?

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Well, I love history, and I know the Second Amendment to the Constitution gives us the right to bear arms. It was written just after “we the people” served as our own “militia” to fight the British for our freedom, so “bearing arms” was so we could protect our country.

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Interestingly, the Second Amendment contains only 24 words (and, some unusual grammar) yet has been the basis of decades of debate about gun control versus gun rights. But, just like it is illegal to own hand grenades and machine guns, they could ban high-capacity ammunition magazines (again) and outlaw bump stocks (again). However, I do not see that happening.


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Why not? There’s no good reason civilians need those things.


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I can give you millions of reasons. Follow the money … from the gun rights groups and the N.R.A. straight to the politicians.


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So, you’re telling me it all comes down to money?! That they don’t care about all the people, including children, who have been killed. And they’re not willing to do everything in their power to prevent, or at least reduce, future murders?


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The U.S. is the most heavily armed society in the world, with more guns than people. And, the only country that has strong gun rights with minimal regulations – not even common-sense ones.


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The Uvalde shooter had just turned 18 and legally bought not one, but two, assault weapons and 375 rounds of ammunition! Anyone with common sense would find that alarming. Especially given the country’s youth are in a mental health crisis.


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That certainly should have raised a red flag. And, is why there is a push to get “red flag” laws (removing guns from people who are considered to pose a danger to themselves or to others), and raising the age of gun ownership to 21. But, there is no guarantee either will get enough support from Republican Senators to get passed into law. However, you cannot convince me that Republican voters do not support gun safety and common-sense gun laws.


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I think it’s safe (pun intended) to say most Americans support common-sense gun laws. That’s why politicians, who are supposed to represent us, not their own interests, need to find common ground.


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Well, when it comes to politics, common sense and common ground are not so common.

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

Photo by Rabbitti for iStock

It’s #GivingTuesday, and although it’s always a good time to think of others, remember all the people who are continuing to deal with the aftermath of natural disasters long after the headlines have been forgotten.

And even though Black believes charitable giving can be “secretive”, she also knows there’s science proving helping others is good for you. (Warning: she likes to recommend the book “Wonder Drug: 7 Scientifically Proven Ways That Serving Others Is the Best Medicine for Yourself.“)

P.S. – Wherever you may choose to donate, beware of potential scammers. So, if in doubt – check them out! (Black likes GuideStar and Charity Navigator.)



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I know today’s Giving Tuesday, but what I always find so amazing is how you treat every day as “Giving Tuesday."


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What makes you say that? I do not donate to an organization or charity every day.


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You’re always so literal. I meant that the spirit of “giving to others”, whether donating or providing support in some way, seems to be part of your daily life.


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I think you are exaggerating.
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Photo courtesy of Red’s eldest daughter, Natasha


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At the risk of asking you a warm and fuzzy question, have you thought about what you’re most thankful for this Thanksgiving?


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Yes.


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I should’ve guessed that you’d take the question literally. Could you expand on that a little, or at least give me a hint?
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Photo by htomas for iStock

When Red was a child, toilets represented more than a place to go when, well, you had to go. Much to Black’s amusement, Red saw cleaning them as a reward. (Really! Check out Red's post below.) But neither of us realized that billions of people don’t have access to toilets. And if it weren’t for today being World Toilet Day, we never would have known the magnitude of the associated health and safety issues – or the connection between sanitation and groundwater.

RED: What can I tell you? When I was a kid, one of my all-time favorite things to do was … clean the toilet. Yes, you read that correctly. And it wasn’t because I was a germophobe or a clean freak. I just loved being able to sit on the floor, using as much Bon Ami (I’ve no idea why I remember the brand) cleaning powder as I wanted. And the best part? All those bubbles!

It kept me entertained for hours. Not to mention, my mom was thrilled because it kept me “contained” and out of her hair. So much so that if I was very good and behaved myself, she might even give me “special permission” to clean the toilet in my parent’s bathroom. Of course, Black, being five years older and understanding the situation, found it all extremely amusing. Even now, decades later, she still gives me grief about it,

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