A Terrible Conversation with a Four-Year-Old

Over the past few months, I have been spending some time researching schools around my neighborhood in Brooklyn, as next year I will need to decide what school I would like my son to attend. As I am sure all moms do, I had prepared plenty of questions, and I was ready to discuss every possible detail with the school staff. Or at least so I thought. There was one issue I had not anticipated would be part of the conversation, and I became extremely uncomfortable the moment I realized it was something that needed to be discussed: lockdown drills.

According to the Congressional Research Service, there are currently more guns than people in the U.S., and the production of firearms in our country is increasing every year. In 2013, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, 11 million guns were produced in the U.S., twice as many as were produced the previous year. These numbers are simply staggering, and things get even scarier when we consider how easy it is to access firearms in our country. The U.S. has a higher firearm homicide rate than Pakistan, and is doing just barely better than the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Just to draw a comparison, in 1996 Australia decided to enact nationwide gun law after 35 people were killed in a mass shooting at an historic tourist site in Tasmania. Under the leadership of Prime Minister John Howard, rapid-fire rifles and shotguns were banned, licenses became more difficult to obtain, and a national buyback program was implemented to incentivize gun owners surrender their weapons. The country has not had a mass shooting since enactment of the reform.

I dread the idea of having to explain to my by-then-four-year-old why, should a lockdown drill happen while he is in the bathroom, he needs to stand on a toilet and silently pretend he is not there, as he will be instructed to do by the school staff.

I hope that, in a couple of years, things will be different and there will no longer be the need for me and other parents to have such terrible conversations with our little ones.

But we can do more than just keep hoping. We can and should take collective action to help change this shameful situation. While there are many things that will need to happen on a national level to produce significant change on the issue, there is one very simple thing we can all do on a personal level to make sure that we are not part of the problem, and that is to align our investments with our personal values and consider whether we want to hold companies involved in the production of firearms in our investment and retirement accounts.

The Domini Funds have a longstanding policy to avoid investment in gun manufacturers. Learn more about Domini’s policy on firearms and weapons manufacturers.

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