We wake again to the stories of babies lost, friends gone, children witnessing the murder of their friends and classmates. We will hear the thoughts and prayers come from lawmakers, and the explanations of mental illness which bubble to the surface. There is, however, no change in our behavior after these thoughts and prayers. There is no comfort for these mothers and fathers who found Valentines next to the coffee maker this morning, but will never get another. They will never hear “I love you” on the way out the door, or before a kiss goodnight, because last night was their child’s last.
The images of children, arms up, running for their lives stream in front of us on the evening news. Yet still our lawmakers have done nothing. Still, we elect people based on some criteria other than the safety of our children. Still we are silent and complicit victims of a nation whose greatness fails to save our most vulnerable. We live in a country which has so normalized school shootings that every child in the nation knows the drills; in a land where there are more school shootings this year than there have been weeks. We live in a nation where we can freely elect our lawmakers, and still we choose the ones who are bought out by the NRA. We value more the freedom to possess countless meagerly controlled weapons than we do the freedom to be educated in safety.
There are the arguments for mental health— most of which I agree with— increase funding to help, train students and teachers to recognize the warning signs, and destigmatize the treatment of mental health issues. Those would all be improvements to our society, but there are mentally ill people everywhere, and they are not shooting people in schools. The nature of mental illness is that it is unpredictable, and we can not seriously believe teaching our children to recognize their friends’ potential breaking points is a sign of a great country, or a progressive culture. It most certainly is not a realistic approach to solving this crisis.
I have listened and read the other side of this dilemma. I remain unconvinced that restricting gun ownership and regulating the industry much more significantly is harmful to the 2nd amendment. Certainly our right to bear arms should be upheld, but the intent of our forefathers was never the right of the common person to own an automatic assault rifle. In Germany, people are allowed to own guns. They are mandated to be kept cleaned, unloaded, and locked. If you have a license, you are subject to random inspections and fined; you risk losing your gun permit if you are out of compliance during inspection. Would this be a costly system to implement? Perhaps. I am aware the very people who fight against increased taxes are the ones funneling money into the gun lobby. I would ask them: how much tax would you repay to have another year with your dead child? I can assure you for the mothers in Columbine, Newtown, Parkland and beyond there is no price too high to have their child back.
It is time to change this, America. It is time to make this our priority, and to demand change from our lawmakers. My thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost their children, and my actions and votes will be used to change this ungodly system.