OPINION: Don’t Let a Bloody History Repeat Itself, Vote in Favor of Our Children


It is February 15th, 2018 which means we are exactly forty four days into the new year. It has been forty four days and there have already been five school shootings in which a gun was discharged and somebody was either seriously injured or killed.

Forty four days.

I wanted to make that extremely clear because it seems as if many of our not-so-elected officials, many of whom have paid endorsements from the National Rifle Association, have forgotten what a short span of time that is, though there are constant reminders. Like clockwork, we face an extremely hyper-aggressive young man that shoots our children and their teachers in the most vulnerable places possible, paid off politicians tweet how sorry they are, and then it ends with no new legislation banning those with violent or criminal histories from purchasing automatic weapons.

This morning, only hours after 17 people were murdered, Marco Rubio made the statement that stricter gun laws would not have prevented the shooting in Florida because if someone is motivated enough to cause harm then they will find a way, no matter what law prevents them. That is a fallacy in the truest definition of the word.

Christopher Mercer was a student at the Umpqua Community College in Oregon when he decided to open fire on campus. Mercer was twenty six, and had come to Oregon after graduating from a high school in California who only enroll students with a severe emotional disability. In total Mercer legally owned fourteen weapons, six of which he used in the shooting. Basic laws would have prevented a man who was severely crippled with an emotional and intellectually disability from purchasing fourteen guns. This man did not have the mental capability of handling the responsibility of owning a weapon but the second he asked we fell on our knees and gave him the tool that allowed him to kill our children.

Or perhaps you need a reminder of Sandy Hook ELEMENTARY school in which Adam Lanza, a recent high school graduate, took a gun from his mother’s legal collection, and then used it to murder his mother and 26 others including 20 children.  

Or maybe you’re more interested in Devin Patrick who killed 26, or Stephen Paddock who killed 58, or Omar Mateen who killed 49, or Syed Farook who killed 14, or even Dylan Roof who killed 9 all of which murdered their victims with legally purchased weapons despite documented histories with mental illness, aggression, or physical violence. All of whom could have been stopped at the checkout line.

I come from a midwestern family of right wing, Republican voting, 2nd amendment advocates; I know how much the right to a gun means to some peoples culture and recreational passions. Nobody wants to disarm adults who have no history of mental illness or aggression, especially not if you haven’t had any runs ins with law. I understand that for some their pistol or rifle collection is a physical manifestation of what it means to have liberty and be able to protect your family or just a beloved hobby, but nobody needs to collect automatic assault rifles, assault magazines, and especially never silencers. The simple fact is that if you are mentally capable of owning a gun without harming yourself or others, you will pass the background checks and mental health evaluations that will stop potential school shooters.

The second amendment was written in a time when it took several minutes to load ammunition into a rifle that could only shoot once with very little accuracy. Now you can kill dozens are people in seconds with extreme accuracy without having to reload. It has allowed for people with mental illness who have not received the help they need to purchase weapons that transform our schools into gun ranges and make our children the targets.

It is not just a gun that kills however, it is the person too. Overwhelmingly school shooters and mass shooters are males. Males that grow up in a society where it is not accepted to be emotionally vulnerable or ask for help when you need it. Therapy or medication is too often rejected because men feel an immense pressure to be strong, to “man up” or because when boys finally speak up for themselves there is no federal aid to get them the help they need. Funding for mental health has been on a rapid decline, we are losing the promise of effective medical attention over long periods of time because of the price tag. After the 2008 recession America cut 4 billion dollars and we saw a surge in violent offenders and homelessness. The role of being stoic or heroic has fallen on their shoulders, and we have allowed that weight to pile on for far too long.

We leave February 15th with our hearts heavy in both mourning and shame. The shame was instilled when we allowed this occurrence to happen the first time but will only grow as future attacks inevitably come quicker than we think. We tell our boys not to cry, not to be emotionally vulnerable when they tell us they need help and we give guns to every person with a heartbeat, no matter how many times they prove to us they are violent and dangerous. We can undo these mistakes however, we can stop the heartbreak of future parents before they even ache, we can present new legislation to our nation’s leaders of whom recieve no funding from the NRA and we can demand that we set new criteria for future gun owners.

We can truly apologize to the victims families and let our dearly beloved rest in peace knowing that legislation has put up the strongest fight possible, so that no child fear their place of learning.