Remember when gun violence was relegated to Mondays? The song “I don’t like Mondays” by the Boomtown Rats talked about the telex machine tying out the news story of a teenage girl who shot and killed eight children and two adults on a playground in San Diego in 1979. I don’t like Mondays, Bob Geldof sang, I wanna shoot the whole day down …
What would Bob Geldof sing now? I want to shoot every day of the week down?
As a parent and as a human being, the news out of Connecticut today stops me in my tracks. I was getting ready to work on my memoir about my daughter’s learning disability journey when I read the news on Facebook of more than a dozen children shot down dead while attending school on a Friday. A few days ago, two adults died in a Portland mall of random gun violence.
The truth is that I have started scanning the paper for news of shooting in the United States. This is no longer front page news. This news is buried.
When I was visiting Minnesota this past fall there was a shooting incident that left many people dead. When I called my husband to talk about it, he hadn’t heard about it, because this is commonplace news, not worthy of a top headline anymore.
When I called my husband today he admitted he was afraid the last time he was with the kids at a movie theater. He scanned the space for exits in case random gunfire erupted.
I don’t know what it is like to live in a war zone. We don’t live in a war zone. But we do live in a society filled with random gun violence. I have bouts of fear in the bank, at the movie theater, and in the Fred Meyer buying groceries. Am I safe? Are my children safe?
People argue on Facebook about the solution. Some people say guns are not the problem, that the problem is a broken mental health system. “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.”
They are not wrong. But they are not right. It is hard to kill a fellow human being if you don’t have a gun in your hand. If you are a trained warrior, a ninja, a skilled knife user, then yes, you may kill people pretty easily. But guns, well, I am afraid it is most easy to kill people with guns. Just a press of the finger.
I want guns banned.
If you want to hunt, well, maybe I’ll make an allowance for hunting rifles. At least I can see a rifle from the distance; they are hard to conceal. But I am ready to fight the NRA. I am ready to tell the president how I feel, and to tell him until he listens.
The only thing that makes today bearable is my right to bear a pen. I’m using it. I’m writing letters to the president and to my legislators. If you feel the same way that I do and you aren’t sure how to phrase your letter, borrow my words.
I beg you to please borrow my words:
“Today more people died because people in the US have easy access to guns, whether they obtain them legally and illegally. I hear the White House says we are supposed to focus on grieving instead of gun violence. I disagree. I want all of the guns, save hunting rifles, off of our streets, and I won't stop asking until we ban all guns except for hunting rifles. Yes, I know the mental health system is a mess and people are shooting people because they are mentally ill. Yes, I want the mental health system fixed. But before we spend one second fixing the mental health system, I want easy access to guns to be a thing of the past. I know the NRA is a strong presence and our president and our legislators are held captive by big money groups such as the NRA. But it's time to stand up for what is right. It's time to ban guns. I'm ready to fight for this, and I hope you are too.”
I am so sad that every day has become a Monday in our country. Let’s take our days of the week back, every single one of them.
Writer, editor, and writing coach Nancy Schatz Alton is finishing the last draft of her memoir about the beginning of Annie’s learning journey. She is co-author of two holistic health care guides: The Healthy Back Book and The Healthy Knees Book. When not navigating parenthood, she uses her brain power to write, edit, and fact-check articles for websites and magazines. She lives in Ballard with her husband and two elementary-age daughters. Find her blog at Within the Words.