Last week I completed a rite of passage of every American parent in 2023. I had the privilege of speaking to my children about guns killing people. I say privilege because my children were sitting at the dinner table with me. They were not in a bowling alley, watching a man with an assault rifle take innocent lives. They were home, safe. In today’s world, that is nothing short of a privilege.

After the deadliest mass shooting this year in the community of Lewiston, Maine, we will make room for mourning. We will send thoughts and prayers. We will have memorials. We will talk of mental health and gun laws and we will demand change. For a while.

Then we will return to school dropoffs and carpools, hybrid work models and grocery shopping, family gatherings and community events. And we will wait for this to happen again. And it will happen again.

In May, I testified in support of GLAD’s L.D. 1906, An Act to Enable Confirmatory Adoption. Our group was not the first to testify that day. Before L.D. 1906, there was L.D. 1696, An Act to Create a Civil Cause of Action for Persons Suffering Damages Arising from the Sale of Abnormally Dangerous Firearms.

While I don’t have the space, here, to address the details of this bill, I will say that the National Rifle Association’s Maine state director was present to speak in opposition. This bill’s goal? To prevent the manufacture and marketing of abnormally dangerous firearms. One provision of the bill prohibits the advertisement of handguns to children.

What happened next? The NRA representative compared assault rifles to baseball bats. Others testified that John Deere tractors are also dangerous, that firearms are not inherently dangerous and that assault rifles do not kill people, it’s the people holding them that do.


Regardless of politics, we can and should agree: Assault rifles have no place here.

As we walk an earth where assault rifles can be purchased simply because you want one, safe schools exist only in fairy tales. Yes, mental illness is a serious problem, and let’s have that conversation too. But in 2023, when the leading cause of death of American children is firearms, we have to take a serious look at ourselves and ask where we went so wrong. Once we decided we could justify the killing of our children in exchange for our love of guns, what is left to save us?  

After we listened to passionate dialogue about our right to own firearms, Rep. Matt Moonen introduced the confirmatory adoption bill and explained how children deserve the security of knowing who their legal parents are. Polly Crozier, a senior staff attorney at GLAD, explained what LGBTQ couples go through to have children and highlighted the tenuous rights of non-gestating parents.

When it was my turn to speak, I fumbled for my words. The irony of the pro-gun testimony immediately before the pro-children testimony gutted me. We fight so hard to have children. We want them so badly that we pursue IVF and surrogacy and adoption. We want them so badly but we can’t promise them that they are safe once they are here. Our children deserve so, so much better.

So last week, when I answered questions from my daughters about why school was canceled (with an internal mocking voice saying “just another mass shooting but don’t worry, your school is safe until it isn’t!”), I wanted to ask our politicians, our policymakers and our leaders: How did we get so lost?

L.D. 1906 passed and will help so many Mainers secure their legal parentage to the children they call their own. L.D. 1696 was tabled and, let’s face it, will never pass. Because we love our children, but we love our guns more. And that’s how it is, and that’s how it will be. Guns before people. Guns before parentage laws. Guns before American lives. And guns before our children.

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