As I type these very words I am unsure whether or not I will post this. I kind of made a silent oath to not comment on mass shootings when they happen for various reasons. At times I have added my two cents on gun policy and change; other times I have offered up the occasional “prayers” in a Tweet like so many others. My comments on gun policy and change have come from my frustration reading through Facebook debates and I couldn’t help but jump in because I am not one to stay silent. My Twitter “thoughts and prayers,” while 100% genuine, have been posted more so because I didn’t want anyone to think I didn’t care about what was happening. I felt as though I needed to write that Tweet so that the world knew I hurt for the victims and was angry about the situation. But even after I hit send on those standard tweets, I knew it did nothing for the victims and their families.
In recent years I have struggled with the idea of having children. For as long as I can remember, all I ever wanted was to become a mom. I wanted a plethora of other things as well: a career, a husband and a dog, the chance to travel, etc. But being a mom was always the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow for me. So imagine my surprise when I started really thinking to myself that I wasn’t sure I wanted to bring a child into this world as it is now. Over the years I have become more fearful and I see possible danger around every corner. I don’t let it stop me from living my life; I’m a very adventurous person who needs to experience new and exciting things. But it has always been just ME that I have had to really worry about. I know how to be careful and I am a ninja when it comes to being completely aware of my surroundings at all times. Bringing a little person into this world changes that. I can only protect my child so much. And I am a firm believer that children need to explore, they need to live and find themselves which requires a parent who can let go at times. And in those times what will I do? When I send my child off to school or they go to the movies with a friend, I am completely vulnerable… THEY are completely vulnerable.
When I was growing up my parents didn’t have to warn me about possible school, movie theater, or mall shootings. We were taught to be aware of our surroundings, never talk to strangers, and that bullying was never ok. Columbine changed that narrative. It was the first mass school shooting in my lifetime and it was a shock to the nation. People didn’t know what to think and it was the beginning of many talks in schools and at home. But even then, we didn’t really think this was something that would become the norm.
Today, mass shootings happen so often that we follow a pattern that lasts for a couple of days and then its “over” until the next one. A mass shooting occurs, people flood to social media to offer their thoughts and prayers, after the initial niceness people start the Facebook Debates, and then everyone forgets. Nothing ever really changes… Congress does nothing, and we the people do nothing.
There are essentially three categories of people: Those that wholeheartedly stand by their right to bear arms, any arms; those that cry for stricter gun laws and overall change; and those that are in between both arguments. The reason I have chosen, in recent years, to keep my opinions to myself is that I believe a person should have proven facts and statistics, cited by reliable sources, before diving into a Facebook debate. I also realize that nothing I say will ever change anyone else’s opinion so, ultimately, people are just angry typing because they want to feel heard and they want the last word in a pointless debate. I call these debates pointless because nothing ever comes from them. I have yet to see a Facebook debate that has changed anything. People like to feel right and that’s what it really boils down to. And I am not the type of person to involve myself in mostly ignorant rhetoric. I don’t say this to offend anyone. But the fact is, a Facebook debate does not equate policy change nor the end of mass shootings. Neither does ones thoughts and prayers.
I have spent the last several years surrounded by little people I love dearly. I have watched my best friends three little ones grow as well as my own niece and nephew. Their little faces have brought many laughs and the love that I feel for all of them is overwhelming. Having these little humans around has made me think about their future as if they were my own, and I have mentally placed a bubble around all of them because this world is just so cruel. And now, after a long road of trying, my husband and I are expecting our first child. The amount of love I have for children that are not even my own, makes me realize that it will be even stronger and beyond overwhelming for my own child. Thinking of their future and what they may face is quite terrifying. So for me, I want to see change. I want to be in a place where I don’t get a CNN Alert once a month for a mass shooting. I want to feel confident that when I send my child somewhere they will be coming back home to me.
Education. Really, it starts with being properly educated and informed on all aspects of gun policy and possible changes. I see so many misinformed posts or posts that are so inaccurate I find myself embarrassed for the people that share them. If we aren’t properly informed how will we ever get to a place that mass shootings aren’t a thing? If we educate our children and help them understand from a young age every aspect of guns and gun violence, we can better prepare them for the reality we live in. Educating them on the signs they should be on the lookout for, who the proper authorities are, and also being sure they understand that guns are not inherently bad and are used in certain appropriate situations, our children may be better equipped to report suspicious behavior before something happens.
Compassion and Open mindedness. Instead of bashing each other to get ones point across, taking the time to really think outside the box is essential. Stepping away from social media platforms to do the proper research and really dig to find helpful information is key in making a change.
Register to vote and actually vote. THIS is how change happens people. Waiting on someone else to make the change you want happen will get you nowhere. It sounds cheesy but only YOU have the power to make a change. If everyone did their research, made informed decisions based on that research, and then went out when it was time to vote and actually voted?? We would see real change.
I am no expert. And if it isn’t clear, I am someone who falls in the “in between” category because I do believe in our right to bear arms. But I also believe in the value and importance of a life. I believe a couple who goes out to a movie, a mother and daughter who are out for a mall trip, and every single child sitting in a classroom right this very second, deserves to make it home.
Bottom line, some form of change is needed. Talking about it, praying about it, debating about it, will get us nowhere. Spend less time sharing your memes and more time advocating for real change. I know I am.