Do I have to do the write up of the 18 school shootings there have been since the first of the year, put a couple of paragraphs of empathy and prayers out there into the ether with the rest of them in order to be heard? Because fuck that.
Today was Florida. 13 days ago was LA. Before that was Kentucky. We all lament that the places and circumstances barely register anymore — we get an afternoon of horrible social media posts and news reports showing jarring video of SWAT in classrooms with educational materials on the walls, scared kids texts to their loved ones, resigned to the belief that they may never get home.
I’d say enough, but it was enough years ago. Smart gun policy would help, but plenty of other people have said plenty of other really smart things on that topic.
Today can be about prayers and reflection. It can be about thought. It can be about empathy and sadness and all the things that show respect to victims and their families. It can also be about action, which shows the ultimate respect to those who lost someone. It shows that we can galvanize and fix our shit before we lose more people to more senselessness.
But while we’re at it, let me offer three concrete actions to take, on either side of the aisle, to help us to stop having to do this once a week:
- Donate money or volunteer time to organizations fighting the battle for sensible gun policy in our country. Moms Demand Action is a good one, because they recognize that the 2nd amendment exists and advocate for policy that puts the onus on gun owners and legislators to be smart with both their own weaponry and when creating policy.
- VOTE FOR DEMOCRATS. The NRA is a very rich organization, dedicated to making gun ownership easy and allowing the free market to regulate weapons. This is an insane way to run things, and the NRA now being implicated in money laundering and funneling foreign money into US political campaigns puts us over the top. Most GOP lawmakers at high levels have taken some NRA campaign contributions. For example, in Idaho, our senators and congressmen took $96,150 between 2012 and 2016. (Find out how much yours took at that link!) We cannot be beholden to an organization who cannot be trusted to act in the best interests of the United States, and the first step to moving away from that reality is to vote in people who have the power and good sense to get legislation back in place to get untraceable money out of our political arena.
- Take care of your own house. If you have weapons, learn to use them well. Guns should be stored securely, and if children or mentally unstable people are present in the home, both locked up and separated from ammunition. Either practice or get rid of them, because keeping a gun for an emergency is like only driving a car when you have to go to the hospital. Being out of practice is likely far more dangerous than just relying on others to do their jobs. Be smart about where you shoot and what you shoot, and never use a gun in anything but a serious matter. Pistol tricks are for cowboy competition shooters and bad actors in action movies, not for when people get drunk and want to show off.
I know damn well that this article is pointless, in the sea of post-shooting thinkpieces. But there are ideas out there beyond throwing our hands up and proclaiming it a lost cause, and some of them are even coming from *gasp* liberals who support the right of the American people to take part in responsible gun ownership. Not the right of the American people to leave their guns where an incapable person can get to ‘em and then go kill dozens of people at the nearest place where the unarmed and innocent congregate, in order to get someone, anyone, to pay attention.