Thoughts and prayers.
“Look for the helpers.”
You know what? NO.
I am a person of faith, but I am done with our first and only response to mass shootings being to think about and pray for victims. Thoughts and prayers are a given, not a solution.
I’m done with lone wolf after lone wolf after lone wolf—the majority of which actually have some striking commonalities—terrorizing my country because we refuse to take any serious steps to prevent the easiest means of mass murder.
I’m done with blaming mental health when every other country in the world has mentally unstable people and nowhere near our number of mass shootings.
I loved Mr. Rogers with all my heart, but I am done “looking for the helpers” in an attempt to feel better about the fact that I live in what is supposedly the greatest country in the world and I can’t go to a movie, or a restaurant, or a concert, or a church, or a grocery store, or a post office, or a shopping mall, or a kindergarten classroom without envisioning how I’d save my children if a gunman came in and opened fire.
We. Should. Not. Have. To. Live. Like. This.
America, I love you. But you are broken. And I am so damn tired of constantly having this same conversation with you. I’m tired of writing about school shootings. I’m tired of writing about the effect of kids growing up doing active shooter drills. I’m tired of explaining why arming teachers is a horrible idea. I’m tired of sharing the research that shows that stricter gun laws do actually work. (Fair warning: If anyone cries “But Chicago!” without reading that link, they will get a verbal flogging like they have never seen.) I’m tired of having to resort to writing satire peppered with research in attempt to not lose my mind while trying to get you to understand that THIS JUST DOESN’T HAPPEN IN OTHER COUNTRIES.
Our constitutional right to bear arms is not immutable. We passed constitutional amendments to end slavery and give women the right to vote. We can certainly do SOMETHING about the fact that we have a higher gun violence rate than any other developed nation by far, and a higher gun violence rate than most developing nations to boot.
I mean, when you picture Palestine, including the West Bank and Gaza, do you imagine it having a higher gun death rate than the U.S? (Spoiler alert: It doesn’t.)
I understand people’s fear of limiting our freedoms, BUT WHAT WE ARE LIVING WITH NOW IS NOT FREEDOM. Parents live in fear of sending their kids off to school. Teachers live in fear of having to protect their students from a gunman busting into their classroom. People live in fear of attending concert halls and movie theaters. Women live in fear of their abusive partners. People live in fear of their loved ones with suicidal thoughts having easy access to the most effective and immediate way to die.
Other countries have figured out how to have guns without having regularly scheduled mass shootings. Gun culture in the U.S. is limiting our right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Whatever we’re doing (or not doing) ISN’T WORKING.
It’s long past time to try something else.
(P.S. If you’re wondering what that something else might be, please go to the Giffords Law Center website, hover over Gun Laws and read through the Policy Areas. This is the clearest, most thorough resource I’ve found for explaining what sensible gun legislation entails.)
Photo credit: Robert Nelson