Early this morning my 12 year old stumbled to the kitchen for breakfast. I poured him juice and bowl of cereal and made his lunch. As he woke up he came alive with the joy that there are only three more days of school left. All I could think about were the 19 families in Texas who are setting out one less bowl of cereal and who won’t be celebrating the last week of school with their children.
Parents who were excitedly planning and saving for a quinceanera in a few years are now planning a funeral. Plans made for summer break seem trivial now. Will the siblings who are left to struggle with the gaping hole of their loss still attend VBS, or find joy at the city pool in the coming weeks?
An hour later my 17 year old shuffled into the kitchen. Same juice and cereal routine and we discussed the finals he would be taking today. I looked at his sleepy eyes and tousled hair and I was reminded that 10 years ago he was the same age as the Sandy Hook children that were murdered. With each mile stone he passes; making it through middle school, getting a license and his first car, going on dates…there is a tiny piece of my heart that breaks for the Sandy Hook parents. They were robbed of those milestones in one of the greatest tragedies our country as seen in recent history but nothing was done to stop it from happening again.
This week Texas politicians will offer words of condolence and platitudes. While their tweets are still fresh and their words hang in the air they will make their way to the NRA Convention, only 295 miles from the place of our latest national tragedy, and bow at the alter of the NRA. They won’t make any waves, step out of line, or speak out of turn. They will say the things that they are told to say in order to sound both compassionate and tow the party line. They won’t deviate from the script out of both fear and lust for the power that the NRA holds over them.
In all of the developed, democratic countries in the entire world we are an anomaly. When it comes to “normal” violence we aren’t that different but when it comes to gun violence we hold the gold, silver, and bronze metal. Despite the face that an overwhelming majority of American’s support common sense gun laws that would make it difficult for the wrong people to get guns or to keep guns out of the hands of children and prevent accidental shootings and deaths, we are held hostage by the gun lobby and an unhealthy obsession with guns and words written 231 years ago. We have proven over and over that our sadistic fascination with and our selfish desire for personal freedoms without consequence will always outweigh lives lost.
Every time this happens we talk about how complex this issue is. How it’s about more than just too many guns and easy access. People come up ridiculous solutions that allow them to look the other way and refuse to look the beast of the gun lobby in the eye.
So don’t talk to me about installing bullet proof glass and barricades in front of schools. School secretaries shouldn’t be the first line of defense.
Don’t talk to me about arming teachers with handguns in the classroom. Firearm and combat training should not be part of a teacher’s job description. Don’t talk to me about training teachers, school nurses and staff on how to apply a tourniquet. They would have joined the Army if that those are the job skills they wanted to learn.
I don’t want to hear guns don’t kill people, people kill people. That’s a cop out, piss-poor excuse that people who are too scared to face the beast use to make themselves feel better.
And don’t dare talk to me about mental health until every worthless politician is ready to cut the bullshit and make healthcare, access to therapists and psychologists, and mental health treatment centers easy and affordable for every. single. person.
It’s all too easy to look away and chalk this up to the world we live in. But the truth is that’s the cowards way out. How long will you look away and pretend gun violence isn’t a real epidemic in our country? Will it take a gun related death in your immediate family (be it accidental, self-inflicted, or murder) for you to look the beast in the eye? How tiny do the bodies have to be for you to be disgusted enough with our crap gun laws? If you’re done looking away I urge you to contact (tweet, DM, email, call, write) your state and federal legislators. Demand real change.