Let me be upfront. I do not like guns. I am very proud of the fact that I have never touched a real gun in my life.
Yesterday morning on February 15th, I laid in bed with the news on and cried as I heard the aftermath of the Parkland school shooting. I am devastated by the tragedy that the families have had to endure.
I struggle to understand where we are as a society. How can it be acceptable that it is possible for a child who is not old enough to legal buy a beer can have access to an assault weapon. Let’s be clear. Assault weapons are made to kill PEOPLE. They are weapons of war? There was no war going on in those hallways of learning until the child brought the weapon of destruction there.
When children die, we have an obligation to try to figure out how such a thing happens and what we can do to prevent it. When I was a child, seatbelt laws were not a “thing”. I sat, stood, slept in the front seat. It was acceptable. We learned that it is safer for people to be seatbelted, and my children don’t know what it is like to not be wearing a seatbelt. We evolved. I have seen other people make this point, but I want to restate it to show we can learn and change our behaviors.
I have seen some information in the aftermath of Parkland calling into question the outrage of the approximately 30,000 gun deaths per year in America. The counter argument is along the lines of: “That is really a small percentage of the population.” “Many of those are suicide.” “A lot of the deaths are justified Police shootings.” “More people die in medical accidents.” These arguments are facts. I don’t dispute them. However, they do not invalidate the fact that access to guns is too easy. The people who die due to criminal gun violence cannot come back. There lives end. Everything that those children could have done in there lives is now gone.
Why can’t we try to prevent the deaths? Why is it necessary for semi-automatic weapons to be available for public consumption? Why is it necessary for a private citizen to be able to carry a handgun in public? By the way, the only purpose for inventing handguns is to kill PEOPLE.
I believe in people. I believe in the goodness inside all of us. Too many are damaged by horrible circumstances, often times malevolent circumstances. I have seen many Congresspeople discussing how we need to improve mental health treatment in America. HELL YES, WE DO!! We also need to do more to prevent people from hurting each other.
There are simple things that need to be done. Mandatory background checks for EVERY gun purchase. Gun license testing is something we should look into. How about raising taxes on guns like we do on cigarettes and alcohol? We determined that those substances damage our health, and we tax them to discourage consumption and help to fight the after effects. How about using increased gun taxes to fund mental health treatment enhancements?
We need to be having these discussions, and not just for today or tomorrow. We need to have them until change is made. We live in a civilized, self-governing society. Our representatives in Congress need to reflect what we want. Hold your representatives accountable. Check their gun control policy, and make sure they hear that we want our children to be able to go to school without fear of guns being fired while they are there. Make sure that they know we do not want to worry that when we send our children to school that they will make it home without bullet holes in them. Tragically, parents who sent their kids to school at Parkland won’t be able to hold them or tell them they love them ever again. A very important reason why that is the case is that a child was able to have access to a weapon of war and lashed out in anger at innocents.