Many of us have been complaining for years that the US needs better gun control laws. Mind you, please note, I said gun control, not disallowing ownership. Due to the seeming recent proliferation of gun violence, I hope Congress will actually finally do something.
A week ago there were 2 mass shootings in less than 24 hours. That was followed by a number of threats and reports of threats. Our country is now on travel warning lists for other countries, which I never would have thought would happen, but did not surprise me as things stand now. And the president has responded by threatening those countries, which is absolutely absurd. I honestly don’t think I would want to visit this country right now if I didn’t live here. And if I didn’t have a daughter starting her senior year of high school this week, I don’t know that I wouldn’t seriously consider moving to another country, which is huge considering how much I’ve always loved and been proud to be an American.
This afternoon, there was news of an active shooter at the mall nearest us. My daughter went to the movies there yesterday afternoon, then we walked through the mall to visit her best friend, who works there. When I heard about it, I was in tears, scared for my daughter’s friend, and worried about how I’d tell my daughter if it were true, because she’s had some serious anxiety over the shootings (particularly the school and synagogue ones). I called a wonderful friend, who talked me down.
Once I relaxed some, and dried my tears, I questioned my reaction. I am generally calm in the face of an emergency. I may react and emote afterward, but during, I stay calm. This was calm, but teary and shaky, not my norm. Especially not at just news of a potential situation. Once the smoke cleared (so to speak), it was reported the reaction in the mall was one of mass panic. I saw video of people running across a busy street, weaving between cars, trying to get away. I read reports of people hiding in stores or escaping from the mall. When we finally went out for school supplies, the office supply store a mile or so down the freeway feeder road from the mall said people had run in there to get away from the mall. I opted to go to the office supply store instead of Walmart (who has lower prices) because I was honestly afraid to go into a Walmart this weekend, after all of the reported threats. I was trying not to let my fear control me, which is why I ended up going out, rather than ordering online. However, that didn’t extend to going into a big box store.
This got me to start thinking. Have we, as a nation, ended up with some form of PTSD from all of mass shootings that have become so commonplace? The fear, the uncertainty, nightmares, anxiety….all common with people who’ve been through a trauma. And while we haven’t all been directly involved in the shootings, they’ve gotten pervasive enough that people think twice when in public. Many people have curtailed their normal activities or pay closer attention to where exits are, what people are doing, etc, when in public places.
This also made me start thinking about why now. Why after so many mass shootings are the masses taking notice, calling for reform? Is it because schools, while truly tragic, don’t worry them because they’re not in school? Or festivals (think Las Vegas) are for those who attend them? Or churches and synagogues because so many people don’t attend? But then you hit a mass retailer and hell, we all go into big stores. I would have thought routine school shootings would have been a tipping point for reforming the laws. But sadly, no, they only seemed to truly energize the generation coming up – the ones who are just coming into adulthood, or who will be soon.
I don’t know how we can effect actual change, without it taking a generation or two. First, I’m not advocating taking away second amendment rights. However, we insist people go through rigorous training and testing before they are given a license to drive a vehicle on public roads, because it’s very dangerous if you don’t know both what you are doing and what the laws of the road are. So why can’t we do the same for firearms? There is absolutely no need for anyone to have automatic or semiautomatic weapons – or the peripherals that go with them. People should be subject to in depth background checks. There should always be a waiting period for purchasing – no one needs a gun today, right now, unless it’s because they’re pissed off at someone and they want to shoot them. They should be tested to make sure they know how to use the weapon (an armed person who doesn’t know how to use their gun is very dangerous, and at greater risk than if they weren’t armed). And we need to make sure they understand gun safety. This isn’t only about mass shootings. The grandson of a relative was recently shot in the head by his father, who was shooting his gun without knowing exactly where his 11 year old son was. It didn’t end well, and was just another senseless death.
Something has to be done. This should be a wakeup call to everyone who has let the NRA influence their perception of what the left, in this case, wants, which is gun control. That does not mean taking away people’s guns, that just means legislating controls to keep us safe. The many outweigh the few. We need to feel safe in our public spaces again. I shouldn’t have to comfort my hysterical teen when another synagogue or school is shot up. She should not feel like she is a sitting duck in the classroom, like her school is better suited to be a prison than a school, because there is no means for quick escape if necessary. I shouldn’t worry when she goes to the mall, except that she’s safe on the way there and back, as even my parents did. I shouldn’t have to worry about going shopping with my daughter and whether I should have to tell my son if we didn’t make it home alive, remember I love you so much, which I almost did.
We need a change. If not for us, for our children. But that change needs to start now.