Don’t Make It Easy

If you live in Oregon you know this… we can not buy Sudafed at the pharmacy.  We can’t buy it here in Oregon because some people misuse the ingredients to make meth.  If you have to go to work and you have a cold, Sudafed is the best way to kick it for the day.   We have outlawed a medication because a few people can’t be responsible. We don’t want to make it easy for drug dealers.

Years ago my mother was running late for work.  An animal like sound came from across the street… it became a tortured scream.  The neighbor boy had tried to kill himself with one of their family’s guns.  He was lucky, my mom was there and he lived. Years later, in the early morning my phone rang. I sat in my kitchen as my boss told me that my coworker’s 16-year old son had committed suicide with his father’s gun. Then there was an early morning meeting to tell us that a student had accidentally shot and killed his brother.  Of course there was Columbine, Sandy Hook, UCC and many, many more… but those were the big ones… The small ones are the ones we, as a nation, never hear about.  They are the hunting accidents, the suicides, the accidental shootings, the children picking up guns and the sudden bad decisions made in anger that take only one or two lives.  

As a nation we are willing to do whatever it takes to keep our people safe.  We have laws about wearing helmets, wearing seat belts, using a phone in the car, how much medication a person in pain is allowed to receive at once, where we are allowed to carry our glass of wine or bottle of beer in public, how high we need to make a railing, and the age we are required to send our children to school.  

We may never be able to foresee the acts of a mad man or the lengths he is willing to go to do harm… but we can prevent accidents, curb successful suicides, and stifle something done in the heat of the moment (think road rage), and make it extremely difficult to commit mass murder… either way we don’t have to make it easy to hurt someone.

If you own a gun you and your family are far more likely to be injured by a gun. Period. If you own a gun you have to realize that YOUR gun may be used to commit a crime.  A gun really has one purpose: To kill something. You can say it is for protection, for hunting, for target practice, for sport… but it really is just to kill.  We need to care more about keeping our society safe than about owning guns.  Owning a gun does not make you safe… it makes you part of the problem… I know that is harsh, because no one wants to admit that something they believe is a right may need to be restricted or even eliminated…  Let’s not make hurting each other easier than it has to be.

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Are You Ready?

 

 

I sat around a living room discussing politics with a group of mostly democrats.  Each of us was asked about our position on guns and gun control.  Most of the discussion group participants said we should better regulate guns.  When they got to me I said that we should go the way of Australia and get rid of guns.  I was ready to say it out loud.  Not long before sitting around that living room a man had opened fire in our small towns community college and killed nine innocent people, several of of them were classmates of my two sons.  

 

Our town was not ready to say it even then, and they may never be.  We are a hunting town, a town steeped in the the culture of guns and there is no way WE would even consider limiting our access to our guns.  The idea that a good guy with a gun could have made a difference in that shooting, and in any shooting, is part of the argument for keeping our guns.

They said it was too soon after Sandyhook, too soon after UCC, too soon after San Bernadino, and too soon after Pulse… when will we be ready?

To even have that discussion evokes such anger and hatred on the part of those who defend their gun rights. It is a discussion about liberals taking away rights and the ability to defend their own.  Last nights events are on the two year anniversary of our towns shooting.  There are so many shootings in our country’s history that they will now have to share the same day.  We have explained away shooters and our ability to solve this problem because they were mentally disturbed or ideological terrorists, foreigners who came to do us harm… the mass shootings are horrid… in this, America is indeed number one.

 

You have to have registration to obtain the type of firearm this shooter used in his attack.  Super.  Registration.  We need to be willing to do whatever it takes to end this type of mass murder… and it is not ‘building a wall’ that will help…

 

What are you willing to do? It is time to take a stand and change how we think about the second amendment.  Are you ready to give up your guns? It is time.

Only Two

Where is the horror?  Two innocent people have been murdered… a teacher and an 8 year old child… IN A SCHOOL

If you blinked, you may have missed our most recent school shooting.  It was yesterday, when a man waltzed through the front office, signed in, went into a classroom and opened fire in front of children, killing the teacher, her eight year old student, and injuring a nine-year old.  I heard about it in one on-line story about an hour after the incident and then again on NPR as I was driving home.  By the time I settled down with my glass of wine and grading to do, CNN was covering Trump’s excessive golf habits, the doctor being dragged off of a United flight and the Syrian bombing… I watched for two hours and there was no mention of the shooting… WTF?

I guess domestic violence does not get ratings… not to mention that both the victim and shooter were black, the slaughter happened in a brown neighborhood, and only one child was killed…. I am disgusted to think that we only care about Islamic terrorism, violence that is racially driven, mass murder, or manifestos.  We SHOULD care about this…

They were newly weds, he was a church going blessed man, she was a special ed teacher… but things were going wrong, she tried to leave a man that was scaring her and…  HE HAD A GUN… HE HAD A GUN… HE HAD A GUN…

Where is our RED LINE, our 59 missiles, our repeal and replace of gun regulation, our metal detectors in every school across the nation, our extra funding for mental health (or marital health), our wall against gun violence…

Those two innocents meant the world to the people who loved them… but that crime didn’t play into our narrative of things we need to rally against… really?  Here in ‘Make America Great Land’ you are more likely to be shot by a fellow American either by accident or because he is a bit ‘off’, than you are to be killed by a terrorist… let’s put America first by taking care of THIS business…. domestic violence and access to guns needs to be addressed… the end

What Will You Do?

What do I tell my children, what do I tell my students, and what would I tell children of color across our country? I don’t know the answer.

Like much of America, I was horrified by the two most recent tragic deaths of black men at the hands of the police.  My son was devastated and hopeless after seeing the video almost as it was happening.   As I tried to console him, I realized that I really didn’t know what we could do.  He is a college student and older family members continually insist that if he is upset about what is happening in the world HE needs to work towards change.  Really? He is 20, doesn’t have a car, or money, or power…

He asked me what I was doing to make the world better… ‘I teach’, I told him. ‘I teach love, kindness, understanding, respect, and listening’.  It seems like the lessons I teach to first graders have been lost on many in our nation.

We, white Americans, look at those videos and wonder what happened that we couldn’t see or hear, that made the officer kill the victim.  Other black Americans share their stories of how they acted ‘properly’ when stopped by police and came out of the situation unharmed.  Facebook is filled with memes stating ‘I stand with the police’.  None of these approaches will solve this epidemic of police shootings, gun violence, terror on our communities of color, or the tragedy that just happened last night in Dallas. They perpetuate the problem. They do not validate the reality in our country. We need to support all… Police, military, fellow citizens of America and the world…

We have a systemic disease that started over a hundred years ago and our black brothers and sisters suffer from it every day.  People are angry and hurt.  I am thankful for the people who go into law enforcement.  Much like myself, they have dedicated their lives to making our country a better place and helping to keep us safe.  Are there incompetent teachers? Yes, they get put on a plan of assisted and if they don’t improve they lose their jobs.  Are there incompetent police officers? Yes. But the results of their incompetence can be far more tragic.  Wrong is wrong and unless we are willing to see that, the suffering will continue.

The police officers in Dallas were there to protect a peaceful protest. They  had guns and still they were victims.  Perhaps those of us who care about protecting our Second Amendment rights will finally see that we have a gun issue and begin to be willing to make concessions to that right.  You do not need a gun… You need to lead with love and kindness… Change will come when we fight for understanding and that fight can not be with guns…

Police training and accountability often comes into question during times like this.  Use of force training by police in Scotland is very different from how American police are trained.  We need to stop saying America is wonderful and amazing and the best in the world.  We are not that great… We have problems, big ones! We are terrorizing each other, black Americans are oppressed and live in fear, police are targeted and disrespected, gun violence is prevalent, hate crimes and anti-semitism continue, young people are murdered, we have a presidential candidate who spouts hatred, bigotry and stupidity and much of America hangs on his every word.  -and that is the short list.

I have read several pieces telling me that I am not doing enough, that I can not understand the problem, that I am part of the problem…because I am white.  I can not change the color of my skin anymore than anyone can change theirs.  I have been told that it is not my place to speak out because then I am contributing to the ‘white knight’ syndrome and I don’t really understand the problem.  I do not accept that. I MUST join this fight… a fight for understanding and change

I told my son that I would do my best to make things better.  I will show kindness and love, I will forgive quickly, I will smile easily, I will be grateful for what I have, I will show respect and humanity to others, and I will speak out in words and with my vote.

What will you do?

 

I’ve Never Owned a Gun

Hooray for President Obama! As I drove home on Monday NPR was reporting on the executive action taken by President Obama on gun violence in America.  I listened as he spoke from his heart and held back tears over the young lives lost these past years.  This action will not change much in Oregon but will make the sale of guns without having background checks illegal in other states across our country.  He is trying to make every seller have a license to sell and require all purchases at gun shows and over the Internet be held responsible for doing a background check.

30,000 Americans die every year because of a gun.  Whether it is an accident, suicide,  terrorism,  violent crime or mass shooting, those people are gone because they were struck by a bullet.  There are 350,000,000 guns in 65,000,000 households across America.  There is no possible way that the government can possibly do anything to eliminate gun ownership in our country.  This is what the republican politicians, NRA, and fearful gun owners want you to believe… They want you to think that Obama is going to send someone to your house and take your guns… It is ludicrous and idiotic that some people really believe this.  But here is a question… Do you have any connection to someone who has been shot? If you do then you have a stake in this discussion and it is not really about mental health… On any given day any given teenager may feel that their life isn’t worth living… Do you want that child to have access to a gun? I saw someone post hat gun violence is down… Super… Does that change he fact that 30,000 Americans die from guns every year? I don’t think so…

President Obama did one small thing… Good for him! I hope our next president doesn’t have as many people standing in their way so they can do more… I’ve never owned a gun, I don’t want one in my house, and I believe in gun control… get with it, America!

 

A Good Guy With A Gun

Over and over I have heard this phrase in the news, on Facebook and in conversations with friends.  We don’t want to keep guns away from the ‘good guys’. And, if more ‘good guys’ had guns, gun violence would decrease and lives would be saved.

I am sorry, folks, but I am not buying it.  We are saying that anyone who doesn’t have a criminal record, is a known terrorist, a domestic abuser, or has a history of mental illness is a good guy… EVERYONE! Are you really comfortable with that?

Twenty-seven Americans were killed with guns on Christmas Day… And that was a slow day for us… A good day by about ten victims.  In our country someone is a good guy until they prove otherwise.  But the truth  is that even if the guy with the gun is a good guy, good guys still make mistakes… They misfire or leave them out unsecured for children to find, they have accidents when they are cleaning their guns, or they mistake a friend for an enemy… And some people live a very long life before they make that switch from good guy to bad guy… A man in his seventies killed his wife and then himself this past month.

Your argument may be that more people are killed in cars every day… So what? We also are required to prove that we are capable of using a car every few years .. You make enough mistakes as a driver and you lose your right to drive.

So I would like the same rigor to be applied to gun owners. I want them trained and tested regularly.  But really for me the bottom line is that the only ‘good guy’ I want to have a gun is someone wearing a uniform and sometime they make mistakes, too.

I Am Not Afraid To Say It

It is easy to be angry about the cavalier attitudes surrounding gun rights. Everyone can and does agree that mass shootings and gun violence in general are terrible, out of control and should stop.  People on both sides of the debate do agree on that.  But when gun rights advocates (like guns actually have rights) are asked what can be done to help this issue their answer is more guns.  When ordinary gun owners are asked they often say that they don’t know what could be done. Because the real answer is something they don’t want to hear.

I was talking to several friends the other day about this subject and two of these friends owned guns although they did not hunt or carry them.  We began our discussion with the mass shooting at UCC, our town’s community college.  It was their belief and, with the system  we have now, mine as well, that nothing could really have been done to change the path that man was on two months ago.  We talked about changing the availability of certain types of guns and background checks but then our conversation turned.

We are all people who work with children and have done so for many years. Our conversation became a list of children we knew from our tiny community who had been shot accidentally over the years. Hunting, gun cleaning, playing around and suicide had taken the lives or terribly injured so many.

So when we talk about taking away assault rifles, increasing background checks or serving the mentally ill we are not addressing this issue.  The issue is that people have guns in their homes and when you have a gun in your home you or someone you care about is more likely to get shot. The solution is really more regulation on ALL guns… If you feel the need to have a gun they have smart guns that can only be operated by the owner of the gun and technology in this area is growing.  I am not afraid to say it… ALL GUNS CAN KILL… You don’t need to be mentally unbalanced or a religious extremist to run the possibility of ruining your life and the lives of others with a gun… You just need to have a gun.