A year and a half has passed since the last time I wrote about gun violence. Not much has changed, apart from the increasing anxiety I get when we go somewhere that is heavily populated, especially with a minority community. More shootings. More negligent people with authority. More people believing in the rights of people to have access to semi-automatic rifles, built to ream down humans with precision, than the rights of the people to life, liberty, pursuit of blah blah blah. It is like murdering people in droves is protected under the right to free speech. I hate you. You are brown. You are not straight. You broke up with me. You are a woman who hurt my feelings. I am going to kill you. The law lets me buy the perfect weapon to do just that.
I recently listed to a podcast about the correlation between abortion and crime; in areas with higher instances of abortion, less crime is seen two decades later. Some positing that a push for abortion is a push in the eugenics movement. Others linking wantedness with lower likelihood of eventually engaging in violent crime. Others hypothesizing lead reduction caused the reduction in crime between the 1970s and 1990s. What about this age of public massacres, undertaken by lone gunmen. It isn’t mental illness. It is the accessibility to the most deadly weapons. A baby rocker is linked to an almost 0% chance of your kid dying from SIDS in it, yet is is pulled from the shelves. But a gun perfected to shoot other humans? I mean, it’s doing what it’s supposed to do, right? It’s working as advertised. No one is being lied to when they buy a semi-automatic rifle.
I remembered I need to submit paperwork for Iris homeschooling, since she is at the legal age of kindergarten. Some days it’s about making sure she gets to experience freedom and closeness with her little brother but all days it is secretly about the thing I don’t want to tell her: that kids shoot other kids, that adults shoot other kids, that my sending her to public spaces for 8 hours a day could kill her. That parents don’t know they will be saying goodbye to their children when they send them off to school. Any school.
And it’s not just school, we all know that. Every day reminds us of that. Every day reminds us that we can all be shot down by another person exercising their legal right to own a tool for murder. Every day reminds us that the bullet is worth more than the individual. Every day strangers on the internet tell us it isn’t the weapon that’s the problem it’s the people. Every day reminds us that our own president tells the people that the problem isn’t them, it’s other people. Hate crimes have risen. Today I told Christina I don’t want her shopping anywhere. I don’t want her going anywhere. We took her birth certificate and our marriage license with us on a trip across Arizona and California for no other reason than her skin is brown. Can you imagine? I bet you can. I bet you do. I think you probably weep alongside the rest of us who feel powerless. Who have less power. And will probably always have less power.
I wish this were a post about empowerment. It’s not. It’s about worry about losing my family every day because someone gets upset my wife is brown or we are married or someone is mad at something else or someone else and just wants to destroy. It’s about worrying for my teenage sister who is switching schools to stay with us this year. What if a student opens fire at her new school this year? Am I to blame for letting her live with us? Will she be safe walking out our door into the world? It’s about worrying for Iris’ best friend, who is 10 and will be in middle school soon. The age where kids start choosing to put their parents’ weapons in their bags to threaten other kids. The age where no one understands what life can be because they have hardly lived, but they cannot handle rejection. Sadness. Loneliness. Embarrassment. Feelings we all feel, but with a great sense of doom, in middle school. In high school. There isn’t anything we can do to ensure our families stay safe when we leave our homes every day. Kids might kill us. Young adults might kill us. Someone might kill us, and it is because they buy exactly what they need to do so, and do it well.
I was too sensitive to share a picture of my child the last time I wrote about gun violence, as though not sharing her beautiful face would somehow make my thoughts more bearable. Now she has a brother. I still don’t want to accompany this with a photo. We all know what the nightmare would be. We all know too many of us are living it. On the border. In stores. In schools.
Love your babies. Love your friends. Your family. Your community. Strangers. Those in need.
I am so sorry.