I have felt compelled to write about politically charged events a few times on this Trauma website. Under the headings of Sorrow, Loss, and Tragedy, I have written about the Sandy Hook massacre, the Gabby Giffords shooting, and the Boston Marathon bombings respectively. As we navigate the aftermath of yet another mass shooting in America, I’m using the heading Sorrow II. This groups together two of the events involving the death of children at their school. It sets the stage for what I hope will be encouraging developments in the ongoing debate about how to prevent these horrifying scenarios in our country. When did we become a country where Guns and Ammo are grouped with Music, DVD’s and Games?
The first press conference after the shooting, by the sheriff of Broward County, where Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school is located, stressed the importance of ‘See Something, Say Something.” We found out quickly that, in this case, this alleged method of prevention utterly failed. Multiple people saw alarming behavior on the part of the shooter in the years leading up to the massacre and passed on the information. Nothing was done about him and he was able to purchase numerous firearms, including the ubiquitous AR-15 used against his former teachers and classmates.
The CNN anchor, Don Lemon, quite aptly said there is a sickness in America, unfettered gun violence. That this is who we are. He then posed the question- “Are you really willing to keep playing the odds that you or your loved ones will not be the next ones to die?”
Why do I have any hope at all that this time something will change? The outrage, articulateness, and commitment to change of the young survivors of this shooting, and the solidarity with their peers across the country, is inspiring. At the same time it ought to shame us adults who have failed to take effective gun control measures in America. Florida school shooting survivor Cameron Kasky challenged Senator Marco Rubio at the CNN sponsored Town Hall meeting on 2/21/2018 with this question – “Can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA?” In the midst of a standing ovation for Cameron, Rubio sidestepped the question.
I attended an Everytown for Gun Safety event for the first time, five years after Sandy Hook. I am determined not to let our children down, including my two daughters, who are afraid when they take their kids to day care, pre-school, and elementary school. I have set a sincere vow to to become active in the Moms Demand Action arm of Everytown for Gun Safety. I lost a son, suddenly and tragically, not to gun violence. However, I do know what it is to outlive one of your children, to get the phone call that every parent dreads, to have your life as you know it shattered. After the massacre on 2/14/2018, again I couldn’t sleep, I felt incalculably sad, and I identified with the family members in their profound shock and grief.
My husband comes from generations of hunters. His family has collections of guns but none shoot more than six bullets. It is illegal to hunt with weapons equipped with high capacity magazines. They own shotguns, bolt-acton rifles, and revolvers. Some of the shotguns are semi-automatic but they only have a five bullet capacity. These types of firearms allow the owner to hunt, defend their home, and compete in sport shooting. They are an example of responsible gun ownership.
My own family, by contrast, never had a gun in the house. None of my five brothers, nor my sister and I, learned how to shoot. My forty-three years of marriage demonstrate that gun people and non- gun people can peacefully co-exist. I had to stretch myself to accommodate their point of view and they had to be willing to listen to me and discuss their lifestyle and reasoning around gun ownership and use. If there’s going to be a debate in America on this issue, and there must be one, then let it be like that. For too long the majority of Americans have been hostages to the NRA and extremists groups like survivalists, who drive public policy and impede gun-control legislation. The association between American and Guns is endemic.
In the past week I have been reading whatever comes to my attention related to reducing gun violence. I am not focused on mental health because every country has mental health issues but only the US has gun violence at astronomical levels. The sensible solutions I have seen proposed include, but are not limited to the following:
- Outlaw all semi-automatic weapons, including semi-automatic pistols (which were used to kill 32 at Virginia Tech.}
- Outlaw bump stocks (which convert semi-automatic to fully automatic – used in the Las Vegas concert massacre.)
- Outlaw high capacity magazines
- Combine this with a Government buy back program of such weapons.
- After a grace period, possession of illegal items would be a felony (except perhaps for a special license for collectors.)
- Guns would be licensed for approved firearms. It makes no sense for background checks to be in the hands of those in the business of selling guns. Background checks should be the purview of law enforcement.
- Licenses would require a comprehensive background check, safety training, marksmanship training, and strict storage requirements.
A few gun owners and some businesses have stepped up this week and shown willingness to be part of the solution. Most people in the military, the police, the FBI, and the CIA do not believe military style weapons should be in the hands of civilians. We need people who understand responsible gun use to be part of the conversation on effective, long term, change in our culture of violence. NO ONE’S hobby is more important than the safety of our citizens at school, church, concerts, movie theaters, or anywhere else people gather.
#Guncontrol #Enough #NeverAgain