In 2000, my little brother’s reading teacher was murdered by her husband. He failed to kill their two children.
In the summer after eighth grade, my parents bought me a Nokia cell phone with a 75 minute a month plan. It was for calling for rides home and because Columbine had happened not so long ago. Just in case a similar massacre took place at my very large high school and I needed to call for help or them.
In ninth grade, a boy in my physical sciences lab group told me he was going to kill me. He drew a map to my house, explained how he was going to do it, mentioned that he might also like to build bombs in our school, started lighting bags of dog shit on fire on our front steps, and left skull candles behind as well.
My mother and I went straight to the principal’s office, and got an in-school restraining order against him. We installed a surveillance camera on our front porch (we lived on a huge hill so it really did see everything) and you can understand how after that incident, I started looking for exits and escape routes everywhere I went.
In eleventh grade, we had a lockdown drill and since the sub didn’t know what to do, it was me who calmly explained that we would turn off the lights, lock the door, shut the blinds, barricade the door and sit in silence. This was our new normal. I was 16 years old.
We have made it difficult to research gun violence.
We have made it difficult to file lawsuits against firearms manufacturers and dealers.
We allow suspected terrorists to purchase weapons.
In 2012 a man shot 154 bullets in five minutes into an elementary school full of children and teachers trying to save them and instead we got into arguments about how “criminals don’t follow laws” and “he was deranged” and nothing changed.
A TV anchor got murdered on live television and nothing changed.
People meeting in a prayer group got gunned down at their church and nothing changed.
It is insane.
I know that “criminals don’t follow laws” but as my mother (legit smartest woman in the world) says, PEOPLE RUN RED LIGHTS AND WE STILL HAVE LAWS ABOUT THAT.
We shout people down because they don’t actually know about what kind of guns should be banned or what kinds of bullets are used or how long it actually takes to buy a gun or what is or is not actually legal right now.
You don’t have to be a gun expert to be able to say that we have to do better.
I have no problem with people who conceal and carry. In fact, I am happy for them to do it. Having attended a gun safety class, I know it’s not for me and that’s okay! However, I am sure that you, dear reader, and they (the carriers) can understand that I would prefer not to rely upon them as some sort of personal security system. That is because outside of my family and friends, I do not know who or where these other would-be good guys with guns are. Even in the case of my family and friends, I cannot guarantee that they will be with me always. If I am with someone I know who carries, and even if I am in the same area as such a stranger who would be ready to leap into action, there is no guarantee they will successfully be able to protect me.
We have to do better by knowing who does this or why. We have to do better by knowing what we can do to prevent these things or at the very least, please God, slow them in their frequency.
Can we at the very least agree that this should not be happening all the time? Can we agree that people should not be getting gunned down at school, at work, in movie theaters, at their places of worship? Can we agree that this is not okay?
I should not have to worry or wonder about when it will be me, or my husband, or our baby son, or one of our parents or sisters or brothers or friends next. If I will be using my body as a shield to protect someone I love or if they will be using theirs to protect me.
At 9:00 PM on the night of the Democratic filibuster, I called my senator to send my support. Frankly, at this point I am just one voice among many and I don’t know what else to do.
Until things change, I guess I, along with the rest of our nation will continue to send my prayers to Newtown, Charleston, Orlando, Blacksburg, San Bernardino, Littleton, Red Lake, Colorado Springs, Minneapolis, and so many other places.