I’m a pacer, like my Dad. I walk back and forth when something is on my mind. My Dad paced so much that he wore a narrow trail in the carpet straight through to the backing. I’ve been pacing in our dining room. This laptop, the very one I am typing on right now has been open on our dining table. Largely untouched. I’ve been pacing by it, glaring at it.
I don’t want to touch it. Touching it means that I have to write. I don’t like writing when I am angry. And I don’t know what to say anymore about what’s happening in our country. Mass shootings are so prevalent in the United States, that the media spends less and less time reporting about them. Same old, same old. Right?
There’s a term for that. I think it is called sensory adaptation. I’m sure there’s a fancy definition. But to me, it means that people get use to things. I’ve gotten use to waking up to the smell of brewed coffee, courtesy of my husband. I’ve gotten use to my children’s good manners. So when my soon to be fourteen year-old son starts acting like an obnoxious teenager. I notice it and react swiftly.
His behavior has been testing my limits and we got into it this week. My husband calls it “a dust up.” I started lecturing my son about something he did and just as I got wound up, I stopped myself in mid-sentence. I looked at him and in that moment, all my frustration melted away because I was so grateful that I could look at him. I thought about the other parents in Parkland, Florida who will never have the opportunity to look at their child again.
That’s where I am at. I am staring at my children and feeling grateful. GRATEFUL that they are alive. What is America coming to when I have to count my blessings that my children are alive for Christ’s sake? This isn’t something that I should have to feel aware of. There was a day when their safety never crossed my mind.
Today, and every day there is a police car parked at our schools. A police officer is on site daily. Security cameras and double locked doors are at every entrance. A security camera pointed at the school entrances are the Police Headquarters streaming live every person that enters and exits the buildings. Alarms are at the fingertips of everyone in the school. Special coating has been placed on all the school windows to slow down bullets. Does this sound like a school or a prison?
Please don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for the level of security. My anger is because we effing need it.
It Feels Like Cheating
| Catherine on the morning of her 6th birthday |
I really didn’t think that I would have to say it again, but here we are in the aftermath of another mass shooting. This is a lifestyle blog. It’s designed to be filled with tips and inspiration for stylish living, and a guide as to where to shop, eat and play in Connecticut. It’s not political and will never be. But there’s a person tapping on these keys and it feels like cheating to blog about fun and carefree things when I don’t feel that way inside. Innocent adults and children are getting slaughtered and it’s getting worse and worse. And worse, there is no end in sight.
So I stare at this laptop and try to decide what to do. Then the pacing starts. Do I blog about transitional outfits or go on a rager about the short-sightedness, gross negligence and greed no doubt, of past and current administrations that has led us to this horrible state of affairs. Bans imposed, bans lifted. It’s the person, not the gun. Background checks work, no they don’t. Let’s reverse a common sense gun control order to allow mentally ill people carry guns again. Here’s another HUGE idea, let’s arm the teachers! That way, when the SWAT Team arrives they will have to roll the dice as to which of the fifty people wielding a gun is the real shooter. Guns for everyone. Oh and there’s this. An armed teacher couldn’t have saved any of the 58 people killed in Las Vegas because that didn’t take place in a school.
The pacing doesn’t help so I go on Twitter for an obscene amount of time and troll all the rest of the political junkies. A lot of really great stuff has been written in the aftermath of Parkland. An occasional blogger wrote a post that went viral and this is the one I want to share. It articulates in ways I can’t about why no civilian should ever own a semi-automatic weapon. HERE is a link to the post, there are 4,500 comments. The post is also published below.
Tomorrow, I am going to wake up and push this tragedy out of my mind. I am going to immerse myself in a unicorn-themed birthday party and let my blissfully innocent daughter continue to believe that she lives in a magical world.
I’ve updated this post since I wrote it to include links to a few resources, that I believe have merit. If you are interested in getting involved in common sense gun control reform these will help get you started:
- Write your Congressman or Congresswoman. Here is a link to how to find yours: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative
- This website provides gun control actions you can take: http://www.30guncontrolactionsyoucantakenow.com/take-action/
- This link will help you locate elected officials in your area. Calling and writing your government is one of the most important steps you can take. If your schedule permits, attend Town Halls and other meetings where government representatives will be present so you can voice your concerns: http://act.commoncause.org/site/PageServer?pagename=sunlight_advocacy_list_page
Here is the blog post that went viral:
America, can we talk? Let’s just cut the shit for once and actually talk about what’s going on without blustering and pretending we’re actually doing a good job at adulting as a country right now. We’re not. We’re really screwing this whole society thing up, and we have to do better. We don’t have a choice. People are dying. At this rate, it’s not if your kids, or mine, are involved in a school shooting, it’s when. One of these happens every 60 hours on average in the US. If you think it can’t affect you, you’re wrong. Dead wrong. So let’s talk.
I’ll start. I’m an Army veteran. I like M-4’s, which are, for all practical purposes, an AR-15, just with a few extra features that people almost never use anyway. I’d say at least 70% of my formal weapons training is on that exact rifle, with the other 30% being split between various and sundry machineguns and grenade launchers. My experience is pretty representative of soldiers of my era. Most of us are really good with an M-4, and most of us like it at least reasonably well, because it is an objectively good rifle. I was good with an M-4, really good. I earned the Expert badge every time I went to the range, starting in Basic Training. This isn’t uncommon. I can name dozens of other soldiers/veterans I know personally who can say the exact same thing. This rifle is surprisingly easy to use, completely idiot-proof really, has next to no recoil, comes apart and cleans up like a dream, and is light to carry around. I’m probably more accurate with it than I would be with pretty much any other weapon in existence. I like this rifle a lot. I like marksmanship as a sport. When I was in the military, I enjoyed combining these two things as often as they’d let me.
With all that said, enough is enough. My knee jerk reaction is to consider weapons like the AR-15 no big deal because it is my default setting. It’s where my training lies. It is my normal, because I learned how to fire a rifle IN THE ARMY. You know, while I may only have shot plastic targets on the ranges of Texas, Georgia, and Missouri, that’s not what those weapons were designed for, and those targets weren’t shaped like deer. They were shaped like people. Sometimes we even put little hats on them. You learn to take a gut shot, “center mass”, because it’s a bigger target than the head, and also because if you maim the enemy soldier rather than killing him cleanly, more of his buddies will come out and get him, and you can shoot them, too. He’ll die of those injuries, but it’ll take him a while, giving you the chance to pick off as many of his compadres as you can. That’s how my Drill Sergeant explained it anyway. I’m sure there are many schools of thought on it. The fact is, though, when I went through my marksmanship training in the US Army, I was not learning how to be a competition shooter in the Olympics, or a good hunter. I was being taught how to kill people as efficiently as possible, and that was never a secret.
As an avowed pacifist now, it turns my stomach to even type the above words, but can you refute them? I can’t. Every weapon that a U.S. Army soldier uses has the express purpose of killing human beings. That is what they are made for. The choice rifle for years has been some variant of what civilians are sold as an AR-15. Whether it was an M-4 or an M-16 matters little. The function is the same, and so is the purpose. These are not deer rifles. They are not target rifles. They are people killing rifles. Let’s stop pretending they’re not.
With this in mind, is anybody surprised that nearly every mass shooter in recent US history has used an AR-15 to commit their crime? And why wouldn’t they? High capacity magazine, ease of loading and unloading, almost no recoil, really accurate even without a scope, but numerous scopes available for high precision, great from a distance or up close, easy to carry, and readily available. You can buy one at Wal-Mart, or just about any sports store, and since they’re long guns, I don’t believe you have to be any more than 18 years old with a valid ID. This rifle was made for the modern mass shooter, especially the young one. If he could custom design a weapon to suit his sinister purposes, he couldn’t do a better job than Armalite did with this one already.
This rifle is so deadly and so easy to use that no civilian should be able to get their hands on one. We simply don’t need these things in society at large. I always find it interesting that when I was in the Army, and part of my job was to be incredibly proficient with this exact weapon, I never carried one at any point in garrison other than at the range. Our rifles lived in the arms room, cleaned and oiled, ready for the next range day or deployment. We didn’t carry them around just because we liked them. We didn’t bluster on about barracks defense and our second amendment rights. We tucked our rifles away in the arms room until the next time we needed them, just as it had been done since the Army’s inception. The military police protected us from threats in garrison. They had 9 mm Berettas to carry. They were the only soldiers who carry weapons in garrison. We trusted them to protect us, and they delivered. With notably rare exceptions, this system has worked well. There are fewer shootings on Army posts than in society in general, probably because soldiers are actively discouraged from walking around with rifles, despite being impeccably well trained with them. Perchance, we could have the largely untrained civilian population take a page from that book?
I understand that people want to be able to own guns. That’s ok. We just need to really think about how we’re managing this. Yes, we have to manage it, just as we manage car ownership. People have to get a license to operate a car, and if you operate a car without a license, you’re going to get in trouble for that. We manage all things in society that can pose a danger to other people by their misuse. In addition to cars, we manage drugs, alcohol, exotic animals (there are certain zip codes where you can’t own Serval cats, for example), and fireworks, among other things. We restrict what types of businesses can operate in which zones of the city or county. We have a whole system of permitting for just about any activity a person wants to conduct since those activities could affect others, and we realize, as a society, that we need to try to minimize the risk to other people who comes from the chosen activities of those around them in which they have no say. Gun ownership is the one thing our country collectively refuses to manage, and the result is a lot of dead people.
I can’t drive a Formula One car to work. It would be really cool to be able to do that, and I could probably cut my commute time by a lot. Hey, I’m a good driver, a responsible Formula One owner. You shouldn’t be scared to be on the freeway next to me as I zip around you at 140 MPH, leaving your Mazda in a cloud of dust! Why are you scared? Cars don’t kill people. People kill people. Doesn’t this sound like bullshit? It is bullshit, and everybody knows. Not one person I know would argue non-ironically that Formula One cars on the freeway are a good idea. Yet, these same people will say it’s totally ok to own the firearm equivalent because, in the words of comedian Jim Jeffries, “fuck you, I like guns”.
Yes, yes, I hear you now. We have a second amendment to the constitution, which must be held sacrosanct over all other amendments. Dude. No. The constitution was made to be a malleable document. It’s intentionally vague. We can enact gun control without infringing on the right to bear arms. You can have your deer rifle. You can have your shotgun that you love to shoot clay pigeons with. You can have your target pistol. Get a license. Get a training course. Recertify at a predetermined interval. You do not need a military grade rifle. You don’t. There’s no excuse.
“But we’re supposed to protect against tyranny! I need the same weapons the military would come at me with!” Dude. You know where I can get an Apache helicopter and a Paladin?! Hook a girl up! Seriously, though, do you really think you’d be able to hold off the government with an individual level weapon? Because you wouldn’t. One grenade, and you’re toast. Don’t have these illusions of standing up to the government, and needing military style rifles for that purpose. You’re not going to stand up to the government with this thing. They’d take you out in about half a second.
Let’s be honest. You just want a cool toy, and for the vast majority of people, that’s all an AR-15 is. It’s something fun to take to the range and put some really wicked holes in a piece of paper. Good for you. I know how enjoyable that is. I’m sure for a certain percentage of people, they might not kill anyone driving a Formula One car down the freeway, or owning a Cheetah as a pet, or setting off professional grade fireworks without a permit. Some people are good with this stuff, and some people are lucky, but those cases don’t negate the overall rule. Military style rifles have been the choice du jour in the incidents that have made our country the mass shootings capitol of the world. Formula One cars aren’t good for commuting. Cheetahs are bitey. Professional grade fireworks will probably take your hand off. All but one of these are common sense to the average American. Let’s fix that. Be honest, you don’t need that AR-15. Nobody does. Society needs them gone, no matter how good you may be with yours. Kids are dying, and it’s time to stop fucking around.