I’ve hesitated to write this piece for a very long time simply because I didn’t want anyone to come at me and say I’m making something personal when I shouldn’t. Now I know if someone says that to me it’s because they don’t want to deal with what I’m about to tell them, specifically the fear that I live with along with many other people. If you read this and feel ‘discomfort’, that’s for you to deal with, not me. Because your discomfort doesn’t mean jack-shit in the face of someone’s pain and fear they live with every day.
In the last week, there have been two terrible incidents where innocent individuals were shot. The first was in Kansas City when a sixteen-year-old black teenager was shot when he came to the door of a house looking for his siblings. This young man was shot twice but survived and is now at home recovering. This past weekend, a group of young women driving at night got lost and drove up to a house in a rural part of New York state. As they were turning around, the homeowner fired two shots at their car, hitting one of young women, The young women had to drive several miles to get cellphone reception and call paramedics but one young woman in the car was hit by a bullet and died.
Where it gets personal is this: every time I see this happen I think, ‘That could be me.’ Because I have gone up to people’s doors hoping I’m at the right one when I was delivering food and packages. And as an Uber driver, I never go up into a driveway, especially out in the country where the driveways are long. I will not go up a driveway in the country unless my pickup has called or texted me to let me know I’m good to drive up. I know the level of fear, paranoia, and anger that has been stoked by right-wing news media such as Fox News, the NRA (National Rifle Association), and the Republican Party along with right-wing neo-Nazi groups like the Proud Boys or the sovereign citizens movement all backed by the gun lobby and gun manufacturers for one purpose: money. Yes, these bastards have stoked fear and paranoia in order to take as much money from people and flood our country and countries south of the border with guns.
This is going to piss off someone reading this but I’m going to say it now for the first time here:
The conservative right-wing Republican establishment and gun lobby don’t care about anyone but themselves. They don’t care whether or not you, me, or your children live or die. Because if you or your children are killed by gun violence, they’re just going to send thoughts and prayers then ask your surviving family members for more money or try to get them to buy more guns and bullets.
Because for the last twenty years, this conservative establishment from Hell has been dismantling every piece of gun control legislation in order to flood our streets with guns and blood and line their pockets with millions of dollars in addition to the dirty Russian-mafia backed money that has fueled their media outrage machine. They created the problem, and they have no incentive whatsoever to fix it.
In 1992, I voted in my first Presidential election and two pieces of legislation were one of many reasons I voted Democrat. Those two pieces of legislation were both passed in 1993 and they were the Assault Weapons Ban and the Brady Bill which instituted a seven-day waiting period and universal background check program for handgun purchases. In the ten years these two laws were in effect, gun violence was three-hundred percent lower than it is now. Once those two laws lapsed, gun violence increased to the bloodbath that it is now.
So, how can we fix this problem?
First, pass the Assault Weapons Ban. There is NO reason at all for any civilian to own a military-grade assault weapon. These are weapons of mass destruction and don’t belong in the hands of civilians.
Two, Universal Background Checks and mandatory waiting periods. Background checks could have prevented several mass shootings along with the waiting periods needed to do a full and complete background check to begin with.
Three, Red Flag Laws. These laws are to keep guns away from people who are deemed a danger to themselves or others by family members, mental health professionals, and law enforcement. Again, something that could have prevented several mass shootings.
Four, banning convicted felons, those convicted of assault-and-battery, and most of all, those convicted of domestic violence from ever owning a gun. These people have proven they are more than capable of violence, and they will use guns to kill those they’ve hurt before like domestic partners and sadly, their own children.
Five, laws requiring gun owners to be certified and trained in how to handle and store their guns properly. I know plenty of responsible gun owners and they know how to handle and store their guns safely. I have no problem whatsoever with a gun owner who goes target shooting or hunting as they are some of the most responsible people I know, and they are people who support common-sense gun control laws.
Six, repeal open-carry and concealed-carry laws. There is no need for a civilian to carry a gun openly in public or concealed. The few times civilians were able to stop a mass shooter were because those civilians had some kind of military or law enforcement training or experience, something the average civilian doesn’t have.
Seven, go after the gun lobby and gun manufacturers to try and keep them from flooding not just our country, but other countries around the world with guns. Go after their dirty-money and their media allies who push disinformation and propaganda campaigns of fear and paranoia and stoke anger and outrage. And go after the conspiracy theorists who peddle false information and harass survivors.
Now if you’re still pissed off with me after reading this and want to push back at me with the following, here are my responses to save you some time and effort:
“All these laws won’t stop all mass shootings and save every life.”
My response to that is to quote an old Hebrew proverb with my phrasing:
“He who saves one life it is as if he has saved the life of the entire world.”
This means that we can and have a responsibility to save one life at a time. These laws and measures will save hundreds, if not thousands of lives. And they may help ease the pain of survivors, and families who have lost loved ones to gun violence, people who work tirelessly every day to turn their pain into purpose to try and save other families from going through what they live with every day.
“Well, if someone breaks into my house I’ll just shoot them.”
No one knows what they’ll do until they’re faced with it, and if you do pull the trigger you’ll have to live with it for the rest of your life. It’s called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and there is NO cure for it. You just learn how to manage it, but you’ll always live with the nightmares and the pain. So don’t come at me or anyone else all big and bad-ass and shit because if you think you can pull a trigger and not suffer the consequences even if they’re justified, go fuck yourself.
Finally, the big one: have I ever owned a gun or handled one?
No. And I have my reasons as to why I’ve made that choice but that’s a story for another time. And if you want to come at me and call me a hypocritical bitch for not telling that story right here and now: fuck off. I will NOT tell anyone when, how, or if they should tell their story and I will NOT tolerate anyone doing the same to me. That is pure fucking deflection and instead of doing that stupid-ass shit, sit down and have a very serious conversation with yourself as to why you think and feel the way you do, and dig deep and dig hard. But I will give you a warning: you might not like the answers you find, and sooner or later you will have to deal with them.
To those of you reading this who agree with me on these gun control laws and policies we desperately need to pass, but who may have grown disillusioned or feel their hope for the future slipping, the fight is still here and has been all along. And to quote from one of my favorite movies, ‘Casablanca’: “Welcome back to the fight. This time I know our side will win.”
Finally, I want to end with MTV’s slogan for the 1992 Presidential Campaign:
Choose or Lose.