It was way back in kindergarten when my now 19 year old son came home and said “Mom, we had a bad man thing today – we practiced just in case...”
“What?! I asked with alarm.
“We had a practice in case a bad man comes into the school.”
I tried to quiet the pounding in my ears. “What kind of a drill? What did you guys do?” I asked.
“We got in a single file line, were very quiet, and we hid in the big closet after we put chairs against the front door.”
I stifled the urge to sob out loud. How could a baby, a five year old, have to live in a society where this is the ‘norm’?
This was my son’s first experience of what it was like to live in a gun riddled, dangerous society. That was more than a decade ago and my son, though luckily not having experienced a shooting first hand, has had countless emergency drills during each of his years in LA public school, had lock downs where it was found that someone at school or nearby was brandishing a firearm while he madly texted me from behind a barricaded door. And tragically, as we all know, there have been countless school shootings and other mass murders since that day in kindergarten years ago.
In the wake of this latest horror of the shooting in Texas, I asked my son how he was feeling, what he and his college buddies talk about around this subject.
“It depends on where you live” he said. A friend of his, a young black woman who lives near Buffalo, New York, was fully in the anti-gun camp. She had seen far too many killings in her young years, primarily men of color at the hands of white police officers, but plenty inside her own community as well.
Another friend of my son’s, a young white male who lives in Texas, is pro-gun in terms of being able to carry them but wishes there were common sense laws. “When you go to the grocery store in Texas, every single person is carrying a gun, and I feel safer having one myself in case something happens” his friend said. Although I find his reasoning heartbreaking, I cannot argue with his experience or his emotions around them.
I couldn't watch but yet couldn't turn away from the most recent news. “Oh my god, they’re just babies!” I wailed. After Buffalo, NY and too many other recent mass murders, it was just one more piece of unimaginable, horrifying news and it seemed to be the last straw and the one that shattered me.
“My generation is used to it Mom” my son said when I finally stopped sobbing as I leaned against the kitchen counter. “We’ve grown up having drills in school, hearing about shootings all the time – for us this is normal.” And some authorities wonder at the epidemic of teen depression and suicide.
But once I wiped my eyes and reminded myself that the antidote to feeling overwhelmed is to take action, I realized that part of the problem is that guns seem to beget guns, just as violence seems to beget violence. Take my son’s friend in Texas; because everyone around him is armed, he feels like he needs to be armed too. Make it a fairer fight, if you will. But if you follow that logic – you hit me, I hit you back harder, then you hit me back yet again and ever harder, etc., etc. – you can see this is a never ending downward spiral. A race to the bottom if you will. Or certainly a race to the death. As Gandhi famously said “An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind.”
There is no more time for politeness. We need to call it what it is – certain politicians, mostly Republicans, love their own power and lining their pockets with the cash of the gun lobbyists more than they respect our right to live without fear, more than they respect the right for a 1st grader to make it through a normal day at school without being shot by an angry young male who inexplicably was able to buy an assault rifle. THESE EXTREME RIGHT WING POLITICIANS ARE COMPLICIT IN THESE MURDERS AND WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THEY KNOW THAT WE KNOW IT AND ARE HOLDING THEM ACCOUNTABLE. WE NEED FOR THEM TO FEEL THE REPURCUSSIONS OF THEIR IRRESPONSIBLE ACTIONS!
The 2nd amendment spoke to militias and that they be “well regulated” as are our armed forces (you can’t carry your weapon any old time, you must be highly trained, there are lots of rules and parameters on weapon access, etc.), so why not apply that same language and logic to individual gun owners, that they also need to be “well regulated”?
I am ashamed of America today but unless we let the Republicans take it away, we still have the right to vote. Let’s throw the do-nothings out, including the idiots in Texas who seem to be single-handedly trying to drag us backwards 100 years. We simply cannot hold our fraying society together much longer if we let our so-called representatives continue to ignore our pleas and do NOTHING. Make the gun buying age 21, or better yet, 25 (that is closer to when a young male brain has matured sufficiently to reason and think responsibly). Ban assault rifles. Stand up for national, universal background checks.
And wouldn’t it be great if elected public officials had to enroll their own children in their local public schools rather than the expensive, elite private schools they usually attend and which do not normally face the same daily realities as do most of their constituents? Same idea applies to armed conflicts – if any politician wants to invade or otherwise confront another country, they need to sign up their own children and families to enlist first – if they are willing to do that, then we can talk. Time for them to put their money where their mouths are!
The below are just a few of the many organizations working towards a more livable society vis a vis some actual common sense gun laws. Do what feels right for you but DO SOMETHING!
The Violence Policy Center - https://donorbox.org/violence-policy-center
Moms Demand Action - https://momsdemandaction.org/
States United to Prevent Gun Violence - https://supgv.org/
Contact your state and national representatives - https://www.house.gov/representatives
Contact The White House - https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/