This is my first stream of consciousness post. Normally I take lots of time, ruminate on my words, maybe even fret a bit on how those words will be perceived. But after the most recent school shooting in this country, which occurred on a day normally reserved for symbols of love (Valentines’ Day), my concern is not for which words I choose but rather sharing my raw thoughts.
Today, after reading some of the outrageous tweets by our “so-called” leader and listening to the CPAC Convention speech by Wayne LaPierre, NRA (National Rifle Association) Chief, I have to vocalize the question my hubby asked me today. “Is our country going bat-shit crazy”? LaPierre feels that we need to arm every American, that “it takes a good guy with a gun to take down a bad guy with a gun”. Yes, let’s arm our teachers so they can get thrown into the shootouts (imagine an emoticon for outrage here). As I watched this NRA Chief blame the media and the FBI and take no responsibility for the gun laws we currently have in this country, and not even mention the loss of these most recent innocent 17 at the hands of a gunman, I feel the fabric that has for so long held this country together, slowly unraveling.
I cannot imagine anything more heart-wrenching than to receive the news that your child was gunned down by a student with an automatic rifle, a weapon used in wartime. You watched this beautiful child a few hours earlier head off to school with her friends, after giving you a big hug and kiss goodbye, saying she would see you later that evening for dinner. And now this child, who gives your life meaning, that beautiful, creative child, lies dead in the classroom of a building that should have been a safe haven. How do you grapple with that all-consuming grief? She was not my child, but when I watched a mother, who had just finished making funeral arrangements for her 14-year old daughter, scream at the leader of this country to do something, it took my breath away. Her grief was palpable and echoed the cries of all those many people who far too often succumb to gun violence in this country.
I have heard lots of hollow words tossed about by those in this country who have taken “blood money” from the NRA, many focusing on the fact that we need to fix the mental illness issue in this country, and yes, that is a complex issue that needs so much more attention. What seems to be an easier fix, one that can be addressed now, is to make certain that those with mental illness cannot get their hands on a weapon. But instead, recent relaxed gun laws make it easier for these same individuals to get a weapon, in record time I might add. Right now we can expand background checks, increase the age of people allowed to purchase weapons, and extend the waiting period for getting a gun, which are all easy fixes. Then, let’s have a conversation about getting rid of “bump stocks”. No, let’s not. Instead how about we just not allow anyone in this country, except those in law enforcement and the military, to purchase automatic weapons? Today, in some states in this country, you can purchase an AR15 automatic weapon at age 18. Seriously, WTF?!
On the heels of yet another gun tragedy that has shaken this country to its core, we watch as our children become the leaders that we should have been. The changes that we adults have not been able to bring about may well rest in the hands of our children. I have watched how eloquently and passionately these children have spoken to the media and to our leaders, immediately after the deaths of their friends, some who literally had to walk by their dead friends to escape their hiding places after the carnage. Although I get goosebumps each time I re-watch these interviews, and I feel such a sense of awe and wonder at their maturity, I too am saddened that they have to be the ones to carry this torch. Why should our children have to wage this battle? Why can’t our elected officials do the easy work to enact laws to protect our citizens? If any of us wondered about what kind of leaders this next generation of children will become, we should wonder no more.
For those who have not had the chance to listen to the song “Shine” that the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Florida wrote and sang after the Valentines’ Day gun massacre at their school, go here. It will bring you to tears.
And for those who wonder what our gun culture is compared to other countries, here is an interesting news article.
Our children are telling us it is time to wake up. Will we answer that wake-up call?