Yesterday, I was sad. Today, I am angry. I am angry at the callousness those untouched by the horrific tragedy spew on social media. Those who refuse to sit in the discomfort of imagining your child’s face on the screen. To contemplate what it would be like to have to provide two sentences about their remarkable life, extinguished by a coward, plastered on the evening news. Those who refuse to imagine it being their school. Those who will not acknowledge that it is not as simple as “God didn’t take away rocks after Cain and Abel.” I am here to shout that you are comparing apples to sea nettles. Do not use an antiquated biblical story from a testament you routinely admonish regarding a brotherly feud to justify the massacre of 19 innocent children by a weapon capable of firing off 45 rounds in a minute. Capable of obliterating two entire classrooms full of your and my children. Do not compare a rock to a tool that can wipe out two classrooms in a minute. To those who refuse to talk about restricting access to guns and think it is as simple as arming guards at the front of schools. Of course, that is a viable option. Guess what? There was one at Robb Elementary in Uvalde. An armed guard did not stop this monster. What we are doing isn’t working. And our kids are paying the price.
For the love of children everywhere, or at the very least, for the love of your own children, bring something meaningful to the conversation. Do not for a minute think that your simple solution of reducing it to more or no guns, name-calling, firm political stance, or the more alarming statement that “people kill people” will fix this issue. I beg you to stop sharing memes that label “conservatives” and “liberals.” Our political alignment does not define our every thought. You cannot assume you know how a person thinks on any topic because of how they vote. Stop sharing graphics on social media that lump any political party into thinking one way. You make no progress and are only part of the problem. This is a complicated problem that requires multiple approaches. All-or-nothing thinking is dangerous to a civilized society and it is dangerous to our kids.
I am a conservative voter. I am also a lover of the Constitution. I respect this country and am proud of our laws and rights. I love many people who own weapons and I believe in their right to own it. Heck, I want my kids to hunt and we’ve joined a hunting camp so they can learn. You will not convince me that the drafters of our great Constitution envisioned the weapons we have today when they wanted to make sure everyone had a musket. No one person’s rights are greater than another. Don’t share social media messages that suggest otherwise unless you went to law school or studied the constitution.
The reality is that most Americans agree with restrictions. In fact, according to PEW, 89% of Americans (gun-owners and non-gun owners) agree that mentally ill people should be prevented from gun ownership and over 75% agree with background checks. It is clear we are being fed a different narrative concerning how Americans feel about restrictions. For example, unless you think my 5 year old should be able to walk up to the ice cream shop and instead of ordering one scoop of blue cotton candy with gummy bears on top, he should be allowed to submit an order for his AR-15, then you, my friend, believe in restrictions. How far those restrictions go is where the debate lies. But let’s debate. Let’s talk about this. Let’s not allow politicians who line their pockets with money from the gun lobby (amongst countless other special interest groups) not to enact meaningful change. I hope you all know the definition of insanity (doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results) because we are living it. I do not suggest removing guns from everyone or a total ban on weapons. Do I hope we can enact restrictions that make it is as hard to get a weapon as it is to drive a vehicle? 100% YES.
And of course, it’s nuanced. I do not suggest that a simple ban on AR-15s is the answer. Do I think it is a start? Yes. Just as discussing arming someone at the entrances and restricting access. Guess what though? Every school I have encountered since Sandy Hook has made it more difficult to access the inside of the school. Has it stopped mass school shootings? Spoiler alert – the answer is no. Has it helped? Probably. But we don’t stop trying to fix a problem because we put a bandaid on it. A discussion certainly needs to be had about why we are creating males who do this now. What are the signs? Can we be more strict about this type of behavior? Can we create a registry that they can expunge past a certain age where they prove they’re no longer dangerous? There has to be a meaningful and functioning mechanism to flag these individuals because merely taking away weapons won’t eliminate the tragedy. I acknowledge the complexity and difficulty in safeguarding against a person intent on committing evil. But I suggest, just as arming guards at entrances, changing the way school’s handle mental health could help. I say that as someone who has a mental health disorder. The oft-touted argument that asserting mental health into the discussion actually stigmatizes mental health shows a gross misunderstanding of the vast umbrella of “mental health.” There are variations and combinations that make some dangerous, but many who struggle with their mental health are completely harmless to others. Based on my experience with society at large, I’ve met way more people who struggle with mental health than not. The vast majority of them are kind and loving and would never perpetuate violence.
I am sure you have noticed I don’t offer one solution. I am not an expert. Instead, I want to start an overdue and uncomfortable conversation where we asked open-ended questions and will consider answers that don’t align with traditional party affiliation. This is what we need. Stop, for the love, knee-jerk sharing memes, and graphical data to your Instagram stories and Facebook feeds that only seek to polarize and offer no educational benefit or meaningful attempt at a solution. So what can you do?
- Call your Senators. Find yours HERE. Then pick up the phone and call them. Tell them how you feel. Tell them so they know they have the support of their constituents. Don’t know what to say? Try this from podcaster Jamie Golden.
- Follow accounts that provide non-judgmental access and non-partisan information in an educational way: Follow Sharon Says So on Instagram HERE. Follow psychologist Adam Grant HERE.
- Have meaningful discussions with someone you *think* you don’t politically agree with. Hear them and let them hear you.
It’s not a long list, but what else would you weary mommas add? It’s not exhaustive but it is a start and our kids deserve for us to at the very least start the change.