I usually stay away from political or current event-related posts. It’s not my niche as a writer, I don’t like grinding my wheels, and I prefer to write about more enlightening things. However, In light of the recent spate of mass-murders, particularly the ones in Buffalo, NY that took the lives of 10 citizens doing their grocery shopping, and in Texas that took the lives of 19 children and 2 teachers, I needed to write about this.
I’m focusing more on the latter event, not because one story is more heinous or important than the other, but because I am a teacher who endures regular lockdown drills with her students. Every time one is called, I get chills as I stop everything, instruct my students to sit in the designated “safe spot” and wait silently to be released from the pretend travesty for which we are supposedly preparing.
It is not lost on any of us that if someone with even one high-capacity firearm makes their way into our building and shoots out the door handle, we are toast. There’s not much anyone can do about it, and we don’t actually talk about that.
In a letter to the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine published on April 20 2022, some terrifying statistics were shared regarding the CDC’s update on official mortality data.
- In 2020, there were 45,222 firearm-related deaths in the US.
- The year 2019-2020 showed a “sharp 13.5% increase in the crude rate of firearm-related death.”
- In that year, there was a 33.4% increase in firearm homicides.
- As of 2016, firearm injuries were “second only to motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of death among children and adolescents.” That includes kids from 1 to 19 years.
- In 2020, that changed. Firearm-related injuries became #1.
- 2019-2020: the rate of all firearm-related deaths among children and adolescents rose 29.5% – “more than twice as high as the increase in the general population.”
This sentence is the kicker: the increasing firearm-related mortality reflects a longer-term trend and shows that we continue to fail to protect our youth from a preventable cause of death.
We are failing our children.
As it is, we have an unhealthy obsession in our country regarding our constitutional right to bear arms. There are plenty of good, law-abiding citizens who do the right thing. There are plenty of sick, twisted, criminal minds who do not.
A sick, twisted 18-year old man with a gun and a nefarious agenda walks into your community safe place and guns down your child, your wife, your grandfather quickly, easily, expeditiously. Maybe he takes his own life, maybe the cops do, maybe he walks away in handcuffs with a belly full of Burger King.
My question is always “how did it get to that point?” What life events transpired to enable that young man to feel so detached from humanity, so emboldened to purchase a cache of ammunition, make a plan to walk into a safe house and, quite literally, execute that plan?
How did an 18-year-old with that kind of mental instability and disdain for humanity have the ability to purchase said weaponry?
There are so many nonsense responses to this question. A plethora of smoke-and-mirrors-nothing-to-see-here perspectives that quite frankly, keep us right where we are: drowning in senseless deaths.
I’m not interested in “because it is his right.”
I’m also not interested in arming teachers or placing good guys with guns in every corner of the world. Teachers aren’t trained to be armed security. More guns mean more opportunities for people to get hurt.
I am not interested in attempts to invalidate my arguments because I might use “improper terminology” to describe a weapon that should not be in the hands of any joe-shmo walking the streets.
I’m not interested in hearing “it’s not a gun problem, it’s a people problem.” Friends, it’s a sick-people-with-guns problem. Both things are true. You don’t shoot up a school with a knife. You do it with a weapon that you can fire many multiples of times in seconds to kill as many people as you can.
There are things in which I am interested in hearing as part of the discussion.
I am interested in action that provides adequate mental health resources for our children so they don’t grow up to be psychopaths. Of course, if they reach their 18th birthday without intervention, it’s too late. Our kids need more help, not less.
I am interested in our so-called leaders having the balls to take responsibility and look honestly at our nation in its entirety, look at real data, and quit digging into useless rhetoric that pleases the NRA who pays for their re-election. Do your jobs and protect the lives you serve.
I am interested in the good guys with guns speaking up and acknowledging that this is a problem that our nation – the people and the elected leadership – must address now.
I am interested in making it more difficult to obtain a firearm than it is to obtain a driver’s license. Create regulations that require education, proof of practice, proof of insurance, regular updates to licensing, scrupulous background checks that require character recommendations. Then, crack down on any place that is selling firearms to anyone not following the law. If there are no laws, then they can do whatever they want. Maybe a psychopath doesn’t have any record of mental health issues, and maybe they can get a bogus letter, but at least they will be in the system and trackable. I’m sure there are plenty of other, smarter ways to regulate and I’d love to hear those ideas in the nation’s discussion.
Until then, we will continue sending thoughts and prayers, as long as it isn’t our own loved ones who are blown away. Or us.
What does it actually take to make things make more sense? Whose loved one has to die before something changes?