In late April of 1999, I was very very overdue pregnant with my first child. About a week before she was born, I sat in my living room and became captivated with the news showing me the terror that the students of Columbine High School were going through. I think the nation was just as appalled as I was...Columbine was on the news for weeks. I remember that night holding my giant belly and crying. How could I bring a child in THIS? How could anyone expect me to send her to school after THIS?
It's more than 16 years later. It's an unacceptable number of school shootings later. And we have a new "standard" of school shootings now that Sand Hook has happened.
I grew up learning about earthquake warnings. I don't remember one mass shooting in my childhood, although I'd bet there were a few in the world. But I didn't go to school learning how to handle "active shooter" situations. But every single one of my children has. They've never lived in a "mass shooting free" country.
I grew up in a very conservative home. I was raised hearing "If they take away our guns, then only bad guys will have guns!". I've heard that for almost 40 years. And today, in the wake of another mass shooting that is barely registering on the national radar, I'm hearing it again. "If they take away our guns, only bad guys will have guns!". For 40 years, maybe more, gun rights advocates and the NRA have been saying this over and over and over and over. The NRA hasn't changed their argument........and more and more people are dying. Gun owners haven't figured out any better argument........and so we have legal gun owners blowing away their families nearly daily.
Recently, I read a letter to the editor in my local paper in which a gun rights advocate wrote "They always say if there are more guns, there will be blood in the street, but that's not happening!"
Except it is.
They say "If they take away our guns only bad guys will have guns" except every day it's a law abiding gun owner that turns into a murderer. Every single day.
I said this thing a decade ago, in a discussion with a friend....I said that we have proven that, as a nation, we cannot handle the responsibility that comes along with gun ownership. And every year my words are proven to be more true.
Gun rights advocates and the NRA do not live in reality. They think there isn't blood running in the streets. I saw a post on Instagram this morning blaming all these mass shootings on criminals. Gun rights folks completely ignore the fact that these shootings are being carried out by law abiding gun owners who share their views.
And we as a culture ignore that the NRA supporters threaten us EVERY DAY. They are the ones with the signs on their homes and cars that say things about how if we step on their property they will shoot us and how if we try to take their guns they will shoot us. They are domestic terrorists that we've allowed to infiltrate our society. People who think I should be DEAD if I dare attempt to take a piece of metal out of their home should NOT be owning guns. People who believe they are so much above the law that they should get to decide if a burgler lives or dies SHOULD NOT own a gun. NRA supporters and "Gun Nuts" as they are called should NOT be allowed to have guns.
The people screaming out about their "2nd amendment rights" are exactly the people who should be banned from owning guns.
I've lost friends over this issue. I know that at times I make my husband uncomfortable with my outspokenness on this issue. And somehow I'm the crazy one? And the dude screaming that he'll kill me if I take his gun is normal?
I don't believe now is the time to remain neutral on this. Remaining neutral means more deaths. Neutrality is tacit permission for the next mass shooting.
Once, I lost a friend because I said "What are you going to do when it happens at your kids school". And she was livid that I dared to say that. But it's true. We're all living in deep denial if we think we aren't ripe for being the victims in the next shooting. Because there are no rules. Once we accepted a classroom full of kindergartners being slaughtered, we accepted that this can, and will, happen to anyone, anywhere.
And there absolutely WILL be another. As I write this I can safely predict that in 2016 we will see another devastating school shooting. Probably another mass shooting in a happy public space like a mall or movie theater. And next year there will be at least a dozen moms or dads who turn their gun on their spouse and children before killing themselves. Law abiding gun owners turning into criminals every single day.
Yes, we need mental health reform but that argument has just been perverted by the NRA supporters to avoid doing anything immediately. Yes, we need that......but we all know how long it will take to make meaningful, lasting change in how we deal with mental health. And we certainly aren't going to get ANYWHERE with that issue with a gang of people running around thinking their gun in more valuable than someone elses life.
We can IMMEDIATELY remove the threat of murder from thousands of homes by removing guns. And then maybe we'll get to work on the deeper issues that cause these shootings.
I'm mad. I'm so angry that the NRA has brainwashed half of America and I'm so angry they bully us into tolerating murder.
But I'm also profoundly sad and scared.
On my drive into work today, I put it on the Christmas music station. And then I cried those heavy, ugly tears for the families who just had their holidays ripped from them. For the presents that will not get opened. For the kids and spouses who will forever associate Christmas with death. For the mothers who will have to do the unspeakable....bury their child. Too many mothers are burying too many of their children. This is insane.
I cry every time I hear about these. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one.
I don't know what to do except try to convince everyone in my family to move away from this country of heartlessness and insanity.
I donate to anti gun campaigns. I try to be involved in my community. And then I just see the news headlines that it happened again.
I feel hopeless.
I pray. I pray selfishly that my children are never involved in this kind of thing. I pray selfishly that no one in my family will be involved. I pray for God to fix this mess, but I have so much doubt because so many people with guns don't have God in their heart.
I just don't know what to do.