I started this as a Facebook status that morphed into a blog entry. It is obviously not my typical subject category, but I feel this needs to be written and explored. This is not the time for hate, rhetoric, or FB political discussions that tend to be non-productive at best. It is a time for love, light, and actual discussion of a solution to solve this problem. One of my unwritten rules of this blog was no politics. I am breaking that rule today.
I am scared, confused, and heartbroken for not only my country, but also every citizen in it. Risk is a part of my life. It is part of what makes it fun and fulfilling when we push ourselves to be better or do something outside our comfort zone. Risk should not include seeing a movie, going to school, or church. Death should not be a considered risk for going out.
I respect and support the right to own guns, but there is not one reason outside of the military and law enforcement that anyone needs a semi-automatic assault rifle. NO ONE. Not hunters and not people who shoot for the skill. I have lots of friends who own guns, and most of them say there is no reason for people to own semi-automatic assault rifles.
How did we get here? I am not even a parent yet, and I am almost scared for my cousins and all my friends with kids. How is this okay?! How do we teach them to love and live in a world that is filled with hatred? These are hard questions that are just getting more complicated and scary. School teachers who texted their spouses something like this: “don’t be a hero and get out of there if [a school shooting] were to happen”. This is NOT normal.
School is hard enough without having to worry about getting shot in the process. I am not being glib. Middle school is brutal, and it doesn’t get much better in high school. And now some of them have to contend with the thought of being shot, too?
Five school shootings this year, that’s a little less than one a WEEK since the beginning of the year (Cox, et. al). Something needs to change. The country and our kids deserve something more than thoughts and prayers because that phrase gets more hollow every time mass shootings happen with no action to back up those thoughts and prayers. Do they (Congress, leaders) prayer for a safer life and community? Do something about it that will actually ensure change for those prayers and not just rhetoric for a sound bite.
There have been studies from around the world of why mass shootings are such an issue in the United States. Many theories abound: lack of mental healthcare; it’s a violent society, and it’s a divisive country. It’s quite simple, and it’s about math. It’s the astronomical amount of guns. We hold 4.2% of the population, but an almost an insane 42% of the world’s guns. Only Yemen has a higher rate of mass shootings than the United States (Fisher et al). The article is quite a stark look at gun facts across the globe. The difference is the culture and the choice we have made over the years. Unregulated gun rights versus responsibility and cost of society. Life is about choice, and government is no different.
I am not delusional in thinking that there will be sensible gun laws enacted any time soon. In fact our president repealed the mental health background checks last February. The first argument will be “but the 2nd amendment!” Yes, we have the right to bear arms. I do think it’s safe to say that there should be restrictions in the right to obtain those arms. I hope there aren’t too many logical person that actually thinks the government is coming after your legal guns that you already own. I would be very interested to see actual evidence that this has ever happened in the United States in recently history (meaning the last 25 years). I am not talking about buying back gun programs; I am referring to guns permanently removing legally obtained guns from a house that were not connected to a crime. I am not saying it hasn’t happened, but it’s probably pretty rare.
Another favorite argument, the criminals will get guns anyway so why make it harder for responsible citizens to get one? Agreed, people will always find a way to get something if they really want to. But why not make it harder for them to get it legally? Stronger background checks is something 90% of Americans and even 52% to 74% of NRA members approve of (Parker 2017, Kertscher 2015, respectively). Another argument is Chicago’s gun violence, which does have strict gun control laws. The surrounding states, however, do not have strong gun laws. More than half the number of guns recovered in crimes came from out of state (Kurtzleben 2017).
I love this country. I think we are in a time of transition, and we aren’t quite sure where to go or who we are. We are like teenagers, and there’s so much at stake. Not just for this country, but for the globe. The United States has set the precedent for many world issues in the past, and we have fallen behind in many areas. I almost feel like it’s Star Wars, and the country is being pulled to the Dark Side. There is a growing divide in this country of hate and derision that is only getting stronger and spreading. I do not pretend to know the answers, nor do I wish for this to extend into the typical online forum of very little discussion and much rhetoric. I am all for an actual discussion though. Let there be peace and change.
Cox, John Woodword and Steven Rich. The Washington Post, 2/15/2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/no-there-havent-been-18-school-shooting-in-2018-that-number-is-flat-wrong/2018/02/15/.
Fisher, Max and Josh Keller. “What Explains U.S. Mass Shootings? International Comparisons Suggest an Answer”. The New York Times, 11/7/2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/07/world/americas/mass-shootings-us-international.html.
Kertscher 2015. “Most NRA members back background checks on all gun purchases”. Politifact, Times Publishing Company, 3/18/2015. http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2015/mar/18/lena-taylor/most-nra-members-back-background-checks-all-gun-pu/.
Kurtzleben 2017. “Fact Check: Is Chicago Proof that Gun Laws Don’t Work?” National Public Radio, NPR, 10/05/2017. https://www.npr.org/2017/10/05/555580598/fact-check-is-chicago-proof-that-gun-laws-don-t-work.
Parker 2017. “Among gun owners, NRA members have a unique set of views and experiences”. The Pew Research Center, 7/5/2017. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/07/05/among-gun-owners-nra-members-have-a-unique-set-of-views-and-experiences/.