***EDIT 3/24/2021: I first wrote this in February 2018, after the Parkland shooting. It’s been 3 years since then, and we’ve had 6 more mass shootings with 10 or more victims each, including the Boulder shooting Monday. That doesn’t count “smaller” shootings, like the one that took 8 lives in Atlanta a bit ago. And so I’m reposting this, with some edits to bring it up to speed. I will continue to post this every time there’s another mass shooting in America until some real changes are made to our gun laws.***
I didn’t always support a ban on guns. If you had asked me
six nine years ago what my stance on gun control was, I would have been mostly ambivalent. I would have repeated some studies I’d read, reiterated the idea that I don’t personally want a gun in my house, but expressed a “to each his or her own” sort of mentality. Six Nine years ago is not that long ago.
But I write this blog every weekday, more or less, and so you can actually trace the path I’ve taken to arrive where I am today. Let me break it down for you, blow by blow:
- March 28, 2012: Trayvon Martin is shot and killed, and I wrote this piece called A Ramble on Race, Violence, and Uninformed Opinions. It focused mainly on the specific details of the shooting. A relevant quote: “I don’t want to turn this conversation into a debate on gun control laws. At this point, I’m not even sure where I want this conversation going.” I wasn’t prepared to discuss gun control in connection with this event. It seemed overwhelming, and it seemed like other factors should be addressed first.
- December 15, 2012: Sandy Hook happens. I write a piece called Gun Control, Mental Illness, Shootings, and Blame. I attribute the cause of the shooting to a number of factors, with gun control listed first. A relevant quote: “Getting guns should be difficult. It should require a background check. It should require registration. It should require a waiting period. There should be limits on the types of guns you can own, the types of bullets you can buy. The number of guns you can have. The same holds true for body armor. Register for its use. Keep a database of who owns what. If someone has a bunch of guns and body armor, I think we need to keep an eye on them. At least be aware they’re out there.” I didn’t call for an outright ban or anything. Just wanted laws to be tighter. It’s important to note that after this post, a friend contacted me on Facebook and went into detail about gun control laws and why they would have been ineffective. I read the article he linked to, and I respected it. It made sense. I backed off my immediate knee-jerk reaction.
- January 15, 2014: An elderly man shoots another man dead in a movie theater over a fight about texting. I write a piece called (appropriately enough) Guns, Movie Theaters, and Texting. A relevant quote: “I think the Second Amendment has reached religious proportions with some proponents, and it’s held far too holy and sacrosanct.”
- June 18, 2015: Nine people are shot to death in a South Carolina church, and I wrote a piece called Mass Shootings: Everyone Else’s Problem. A relevant quote: “People like to view this as someone else’s problem. If you personally love guns, then it’s too easy to defend your passion and blame the other factors. The same holds true for video games, mental health issues, news media, Hollywood depictions–you name it.” I also came to the conclusion: “What can I do personally? I can vote for politicians who will make solutions a priority. I can withhold my money from movies that present a skewed vision of reality. I can take a look at the role violence plays in the novels I write, and make sure I’m handling the material responsibly. I can speak out online when people try to dodge the blame or pin it on others. It’s not just someone else’s problem. It’s our problem. And anyone who doesn’t admit that is only proving my point.” I began to seriously consider what I could personally do to make a difference, first in myself, and perhaps in others.
October 6, 2015: 9 people are shot and killed at Umpqua Community College (on October 1), and I write a piece called My Current Feelings on Guns and the Pro-Gun Lobby. A relevant quote: “I get it, folks. You like guns. You’re certainly entitled to like them. But as I keep seeing these terrible events unfold, I’m steadily losing my ability to understand why people continue to believe their love of guns somehow trumps the right of people to go about their every day lives without fear of being shot to death by a random stranger.” And another: “The gun lobby has had its say, and it has been found wanting. It’s time to let the other side give it a shot. There’s a wide gap between “nothing we can do” and where we are now. You want to know why? Because we haven’t tried to do anything.”
- June 13, 2016: 49 people are killed at an Orlando nightclub, and I write a piece called How Many Have to Die? A relevant quote: “Gun control for me is the single most important point of any political platform for me. Why? Because it’s hard to have a nation when we keep killing each other.”
- October 4, 2017: 58 people are killed and 851 injured by a gunman at a Las Vegas concert (on October 1), and I write a piece called Unable to Kick a Gun Addiction. A relevant quote: “I encourage everyone to support Everytown for Gun Safety and other organizations working against the insanity of the NRA, an organization which still hasn’t made a statement about the Vegas shootings. At the very least, guns that are designed to kill people in mass quantities should be outlawed.”
- February 14, 2018: 17 people are killed in Parkland at Stoneman Douglas High school.
- May 18, 2018: 10 people are killed at Santa Fe High School.
- October 27, 2018: 11 people are killed in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.
- November 7, 2018: 12 people (plus the perpetrator) are killed in Thousand Oaks.
- May 31, 2019: 12 people shot and killed (plus the perpetrator) in Virginia Beach.
- August 4, 2019: 22 people killed at a Walmart in El Paso
- March 22, 2021: 10 people shot and killed at a supermarket in Boulder
And here I am again, hearing the same quotes from Republicans in Congress repeating the same tired arguments. And here I am, editing this post once again. And once I post this, I anticipate some more people will come out and try to tell me I’m not seeing things the right way, or that I shouldn’t be close-minded. (Never mind the fact that the police officer who heroically tried to stop the shootings Monday was instead shot and killed himself. “The only solution to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” is simply not a tenable argument. Never has been. Never will be.)
But you know what? I’m not a close-minded person. You can read through through 7 separate posts tracing all the thought I’ve put into this issue. I’ve gone from being ambivalent to being hard-line against guns. I would vote to repeal the Second Amendment in a heartbeat, if the choice were between that and what we have now. Wouldn’t even blink an eye.
And each time another shooting happens, more people come to my side. More people are changed by their disgust by the utter lack of effort our politicians have put into trying to solve any of the causes at the root of mass shootings.
So if you want to avoid an outright ban on guns, please start supporting reasonable measures to restrict them. Because the approach you’re using now is making you far more enemies than friends.
And that’s all I can think of to say today.
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