I don’t understand.
This post will not be one of the “fun” ones to read. I typically don’t share my thoughts on these sorts of things but I feel compelled this time.
Yesterday, May 24th, at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, 19 children and 2 teachers were brutally murdered while at school. This was the 27th school shooting of the year in the United States.
I am writing this as a parent of school-aged children. I have children, 2 of them, Julianna and Chloe, who get on a bus each morning, Monday through Friday, and go to school. 2 children, Julianna and Chloe, who I expect and assume will safely arrive back at our house each afternoon when school is over.
I am trying to be careful about NOT having this be a post about political affiliation but I think it’s prudent to share a few facts. I am a registered Democrat. I have plenty of family and friends who are registered Republicans. I love them all. I find that most of the time, we agree about more things than we disagree about. Healthy debate is good. I don’t think any of us disagree that children should be protected.
This isn’t explicitly about whether you have a D or an R after your name.
This is about if you have the ability and are willing to help solve a problem.
The United States is ranked in the top 10 countries, in the world, for firearm related deaths in 2022.
There are roughly 393 million guns in the hands of civilians in the US. That makes up roughly 46% of ALL the civilian-held guns in the world1.
There are roughly 330 million people in the US. Roughly 30% of us own guns2.
I am a supporter of the Constitution and all of its Amendments, including the 2nd Amendment. The thing that frustrates me is the bad-faith argument that any gun safety reform is a direct attack on the 2nd Amendment. I don’t think anyone is arguing that you can’t lawfully have a gun. I’m not a lawyer, a law maker, or a constitutionalist. I am just a concerned parent who cares and wants to have a real discussion in the hopes that it yields real action. I and am almost certainly in over my head when it comes to interpreting all this and I’m fully aware I might get things wrong (and all of this is just based on my own opinions) but here goes…
Here is the text of the 2nd Amendment:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
This amendment was ratified on December 15th, 1791 (231 years ago and roughly 198 years before AR-15 assault rifles were first sold to civilians).
Other facts about Constitutional Amendments:
The 15th Amendment was ratified in 1870. This was when the right to vote could not be denied on “account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”
Unless you were a woman.
It was 50 years later, in 1920, when the 19th Amendment was ratified in order to modify the definition of the 15th Amendment by essentially adding “on account of sex.” Women’s suffrage rights.
The 18th Amendment was ratified in 1919 having to do with the prohibition of alcohol and then 14 years later, the 21st Amendment was ratified repealing the prohibition of alcohol.
It took 50 years for our government to fix the 15th Amendment with the 19th. It took 14 years for our government to fix the 18th Amendment with the 21st.
Why is it so difficult to at least conceptualize and discuss that an amendment that was written 231 years ago might be due for an update or at least a more modern interpretation?
39 years before the 2nd Amendment was ratified, Benjamin Franklin flew his kite. From that day it took 130 years for electricity to become mainstream and make its first appearance in households in…1882.
So 130 years for electricity to become a thing we could use in our houses. 231 years and we still haven’t made any progress on “people having and using guns legally while protecting our children and our grocery shoppers.”
Again, I’m not suggesting (nor are most other people) that guns can’t be legally owned; just that perhaps we can add a few more rules to ensure the safety of our population, especially our children.
While I knew it existed, I don’t think I ever knew that H.R. 8, which is a bill that was passed by the House of Representatives in March of 2021 that would essentially cover universal background checks for the sale of guns, is supported by over 90% of the country and something like 97% of gun owners support it. I wouldn’t be surprised if “breathing oxygen” had a lower approval rating. Why hasn’t it passed the Senate yet?
Well, the rules of the Senate dictate that you need 60 votes to pass legislation like H.R. 8 and 50 of the 100 Senators refuse to vote to support it.
I don’t understand how more than 90% of the people who live in this country support a proposed law while 50% of our collective representatives aren’t representing our will.
But I do…
It’s the only thing that makes sense.
I know that improved gun laws won’t prevent all shootings. That’s not the point. There is, however, plenty of evidence that better gun laws do work and will improve our situation.
There’s nothing in the Constitution that talks about my right to drive a car but here I am, with my driver’s license. We made rules to govern the usage of motor vehicles. You have to be a certain age to do it. You have to pass a test. There are limits on how fast you can go. All for the safety of our fellow citizens.
We, as a society, historically speaking, haven’t had any problems making new rules when they suit our needs. This isn’t really about the 2nd Amendment. Making common-sense changes, that a very large majority of Americans want and support, don’t suit the needs of many of the people who have been charged with governing.
And if you go to school, or you go grocery shopping, or go to a shopping mall, you run the risk of being the one who gets to pay the penalty, with your life, of their abdication of responsibility.
Or your kids. Or your grandparents. Or your teachers. Or your friends. Or your neighbors.
My daughters both worry and Chloe in particular, deals with a lot of anxiety. Earlier this school year, we let her stay home from school because on TikTok, there was a “trend” that a particular day was going to be a national school shooting day. She was terrified to go to school that day.
All I want, and I suspect this is the same for most parents, is that my kids are happy, healthy, and do good for the world. I’m not asking you to turn in your guns.
I am asking that you not bring them into my daughters’ school and shoot people. I am asking that if you sell guns, you do so lawfully. I’m asking that if you are someone who has the power to make law, you put aside your desire for power and money, just for a moment, and prioritize the lives of those of us who don’t have that power. I’m asking that you provide the mental health support that so many people need so that they can be happier and healthier.
I am asking that you do something productive so that parents aren’t put in a situation where they are forced to wait outside a civic center hours after their children were supposed to come home from school, so that they could, one at a time, go in and get their DNA swabbed in order to find out if one of those murdered children is theirs.
It is absolutely horrifying.
I think about the conversations I have with Chloe and Julianna each morning before they get on the bus. I would have thought it inconceivable that we are getting to a point where even I, a hopeless optimist, has to wonder if today might be the day that one of these shootings lands at our door. I imagine that sounds ridiculous for many people. I wish it was. If we as a society don’t make some changes, these will keep happening.
It’s not someone else’s problem. It’s ours.
19 4th grade children and 2 teachers were murdered yesterday in their school. When will it be enough?
There are always people who come out after one of these tragic events and say, “now is not the time for politicization” and I say, “bullshit.”
Let’s pretend your house was on fire. You’re safely out on the front lawn with your kids (hopefully) and you’ve dialed 911.
You: “My house is on fire. Please send help.”
911 Operator: “We’re sorry, now is not the time for fire fighters. For now, just think about and pray for your house and belongings. Don’t worry, we promise we can talk about fighting the fire next week.”
The politicians are the fire fighters in this case.
But they are right, now is not the time to politicize this topic.
That time is long passed.
Now will have to do.