My heart is heavy and my stomach twists. I want to stand out in my yard and scream for it to stop. I fear for my children and loved ones. I’m torn between wanting to keep them locked inside, home-schooled, and safe and letting them venture out knowing that they have to live life, as do I. But….it is h-a-r-d.
As I scrolled through my news feeds and read various articles about the latest mass shooting (how horrible is it to have to write latest), I feel like throwing up. How does this happen? Why does this happen? And why the fuck can’t people put their agendas aside and really listen to each other? (sorry for the language there — actually I’m not.) I am an angry mother and I want the politicians, law makers and my fellow citizens to look into their hearts and really think. The people that were gunned down could have just as easily been YOUR children or YOUR spouse. The shooter could have been YOUR child. We need to stop pointing fingers at each other and ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING!!!!! How many lives have to be lost? How many children? How many people’s lives have to be destroyed before we as a country take a real stand, collaborate and stop ignoring the problems.
Many articles have been written on this. We argue and accuse each other and fixate on one argument over another without truly hearing each other. We need our leaders to come together to make a true difference. Next week twitter will trail off and everyone will go back to their normal lives as if nothing happened and nothing will happen. Except that something did happen and those families and children will never be the same. I don’t want the next blip in the discussion about “gun control” to be when a bullied, mentally unstable person,who slipped through the cracks, comes into my children’s school with an assault rifle and unloads their 100 rounds of wrath and anger on my children or an entitled white nationalist unloads his hate at my local Walmart. We need a real dialog now.
Those of you who have read my writings in the past know I am equivocally not an “Either/Or” person and see the world largely through a “Both/And” lens. This situation is definitely a case for “Both/And.” I hear the same tired arguments over and over on both sides, but nothing changes. School should be a place where our children can safely learn and grow. When I was in high school, we had tornado drills and fire drills. We did not have “active shooter” drills. This is our norm now. The NORM!!!! Does this not make anyone else cringe? Why is this acceptable? I am not arguing that in this day and age that the drills aren’t necessary, obviously they are. I need a course in how to survive an active shooter incident to go to Walmart, the movies, the county fair or a concert. I don’t want to have a concealed carry card and a loaded gun in my purse to feel safe. I don’t understand how more guns can be the answer.
Here are the arguments I’ve heard and seen in the last 72 hours and what I interpret.
- Guns don’t kill, people do. This is a true statement. On the other hand, it is also a true statement that guns do NOT kill without people.
- Why punish law-abiding citizens? I understand where law-abiding gun owners are coming from. It’s the old one bad egg spoils it for everyone. Yep. That’s true. Life is not fair. Get over it already. Accept it. Don’t use it as an excuse to not protect our children. The sole purpose of an AR15 is to destroy. Yes there are examples where people have learned to shoot and reload other guns rapidly in competition. Should we ban those too? If they are available then why not the AR15? It takes time practice and dedication to shoot other guns this way, not so much for a military grade weapon designed for war. Why make it easy for every-day people to own them? Yes, there are black markets. Yes these types of guns will exist in the world. I accept that fact. I’m ok with that. But, how many teenagers do you know that have black market connections? Do you know where to find black market connections. It would be much harder for someone to get an AR15 from the “black market” than it is for them to go to the local gun shop. No one is saying we should ban all fire arms. I haven’t read that solution one time. I recognize there are millions of law abiding citizens that own guns and never harm anyone. For that I am grateful. However, wouldn’t you give up the convenience of buying a new fire arm without a background check/waiting period, to save your child’s life? Isn’t putting off that instant gratification of owning a new gun worth at least that?
- It’s a people problem, not a gun problem. Actually, I think it is both. Yes, it’s a gun problem. I can buy and own a gun, easier than I can buy a box of Sudafed. Let that sink in. Sudafed that little red pill I used to be able to take for sinus pressure, I now must show a driver’s license, sign a computer registry and I’m limited to the amount I can buy in a month. No one seems to be bothered by this. What’s next baby aspirin? Yet the second, people suggest that we limit the number of guns people can buy at one time, make certain types of fire arms/ammunition or accessories illegal (to buy and manufacture?), institute a waiting period or a background check, we freak out and point to our Second amendment rights. When something injures children or people or even our pets–jarts, cribs with wide bars, car seats, contaminated dog food, cars, etc.–we recall the products and we either make them safer or stop selling them. Why is a certain category of products exempt?Yes, it is a people problem as well. We need to help people who are so hurt and wounded that they go to such extreme measures for attention and vengeance. We need affordable health care that includes mental health coverage and coverage for pre-existing conditions. We need to be aware of troubled students, co-workers and ask questions, offer encouragement and point them to help. We need to make it harder for them to hurt themselves and others. We need to stop the bullying and teach our students (and lawmakers?) to praise our differences and embrace them, not marginalize them. We need to stop spewing hate and recognize that words do encourage violence. We need to teach people gun safety. No where in the Second amendment does it say that we can’t be smart about this right. We do not just let anyone drive a car or a semi-truck. No. We have instruction, we practice and we must pass a test to have a license to drive. We don’t make it easy. And, if we break the rules, they take our license away! No one is worried that when renew our driver’s licenses or get our automobile plates, that because our name and address is on a registry that the government now knows who has cars and knows where to confiscate them. Why do we treat gun ownership differently?
- We took God out of the classroom, what do we expect? I’m not exactly sure how God gets thrown into this discussion. God has never left our classrooms; religion has and should be. As parents it is our jobs to put love and acceptance into the hearts and minds of our children. To teach them morality, kindness, integrity, empathy. Not judgement, superiority or mean-spiritedness. God is love. If God is not in our classrooms, that’s on us, not on anyone or anything else. We don’t need bibles or prayer or any one group’s religious agenda in our classrooms. We need mercy and grace. Separation of Church and State is one of the guiding principles of our country. This idea as is the Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments of which the Second is a part. Note it is an amendment – which by definition is a change or addition to our original constitution) is part of the fiber of our country. Are these principles infallible? Can they or should they change? Who decides? It’s easy to blame morality and bad parenting for this epidemic. What would you do if your child became the next shooter?
- If we ban assault rifles, what’s next? Cars? Knives? Pressure Cookers? People will find another way to kill. Yes, cars and knives can kill people. Where there’s a will, there’s a way for sure. People can pretty much turn anything into a weapon. I agree. Right now, we are talking about AR15 assault rifles that can kill and injure 30 -100 people in a matter of minutes (seconds?). Even if an armed hero is nearby to take out the active shooter, the mere seconds it takes to respond lives have been lost. Because a man put pipe bombs in his shoes at an airport, now all law-abiding travelers must take their shoes off if they want to fly. Because of 9/11, we go through metal detectors and our families can no longer meet us at the gate or see us off. We have to throw out liquids and snow globes if we want to board a plane. I understand why we have these rules. Yes, it makes air travel less convenient, but we are all safer for it. If knives, pressure cookers or cars become an issue in the future, then I would whole-heartedly want our society to dialog and make changes.
- Look at Chicago…Gun control laws don’t work anyway. Have you ever heard the expression, “Don’t throw away the baby with the bath water.” I hear and read the failure for crime and gun deaths to fall in Chicago a city with some of the strongest gun control laws in the United States as a reason to keep things status quo. I did some reading on this as I was curious. I lived in Illinois for 5 years and I know that the state has waiting periods and registration rules for gun ownership. Why are things failing in Chicago? Chicago is actually very close to the border of Indiana. Indiana has very weak gun laws. If the guns don’t kill, people do argument is true, then does it follow that Chicago has a higher population of unstable people and that if we made it easier for them to get guns within the city itself, would it also follow that they would have even more gun deaths without these laws? It reminds me of all those fireworks for sale signs you see as you cross from one state to another. Last chance! Buy now!
- It’s all those violent video games! Video games dehumanize people and make it easy for young adults to act them out in real life. What? If a person doesn’t know the difference between a game or a cartoon or a movie, I’d be surprised. What dehumanizes people is our president calling immigrants and people of color and women, dogs, pigs, dirty, invaders, rapists, criminals, illegal aliens and murderers with no basis. Holding people in human conditions for “breaking” an arbitrary law or line in the sand and wanting a better life. Telling them to “go back where they came from” and demonizing anyone that doesn’t agree with his agenda. That’s what dehumanizes people and propels people filled with hate to act out on those impulses in a false sense of patriotic duty. It is our duty to do better and be better.
- Let’s arm our teachers (Walmart clerks.) No one is going to shoot children if they know everyone is armed. This one probably scares me the most. Most of the mass shooter end up dead because they kill themselves or are killed by the police. They know they aren’t likely to survive their plot and get away. This is not going to deter a shooter. By the time the teacher or guard or whoever realizes their is an active shooter, the high capacity magazines and automatic weapons has already taken multiple innocent lives. Many schools are already cutting back music, arts, field trips, bus transportation and sports due to money issues. Do we really want to put the onus of protecting our children from “active shooters” on our educators? Who will pay for these weapons and training? Is it fair to ask our teachers to foot the bill to protect our children? Will tax payers step up? If people can also kill with bombs or cars, how will arming our teachers with guns help? In the seconds it takes to shot off 30 rounds, would a teacher be able to shoot an assailant with a hand gun? Or should they have AR15’s too? And what happens when an armed teacher fails to use their gun and freezes if in active shooter situation? Would they then be deemed negligent? What happens when an angry student gets ahold of one the teacher’s guns and accidentally shoots another student. It will happen. It happens in homes now. The answer is not to become a military state where fear and intimidation prevails. There has to be a better way.
If everyone could put their fears and pride aside, I know we could come together as a community and as a nation to help those people who feel unheard, to keep our children safe and keep our Second amendment rights intact. We need to put our fears and politics aside to make it happen before the “thoughts and prayers” sentiments ring in our own ears as we stand over the grave of one of our children.
I know my ideas may not be popular among all of my friends, followers and readers. Everyone has a right to their own opinion. I have never been an overly political person. Lately, though I have felt more compelled to write. I know one article won’t make a hell of a lot of difference and that we will come to the stalemate of doing nothing. If we keep doing the same thing over and over, why are we surprised that we get the same results over and over? Or maybe we aren’t surprised, but we’ve become immobilized by apathy.
I’m open to your comments and ideas. Thanks for reading.