I’ve come to that realization that my empathy pores are too large. I absorb whatever emotion is around me, and I feel it too intensely. Like way too intensely. If your dog is missing, then suddenly it feels like my dog is missing. I can swing the other way, and feel as much happiness and giddiness that a bride feels. And during tragedy, I go into overdrive.
I drown at times in the sadness. I feel it weigh down my chest. My mind cannot stop the images of fear, sadness and loss. I’ve been this way for as far back as I can remember, but it hasn’t been until the past ten years or so that it truly affects me. My sleep especially. I can find ways to try and get my mind off of it when I am awake, but my sleep can’t run from the thoughts and images it has been force fed, and my dreams morph into nightmares of gloom. My blood pressure increases because my anger increases. It’s easy to bait me into arguments online. My mood turns sad and sour, like milk left in the sun too long.
I’d like to blame the internet and my frenzied feeding of any news cycle that is going through, but ultimately it’s me who turns the TV on, or reads every news article there is. I immerse my brain into the details, trying to understand from every facet, until I hit overload and am left an angry weeping bitter mess.
When the news of yesterday’s shooting in a Florida High School came in, a small part of me went “Oh no, here we go again” and I almost stopped myself from reading further. My mood was already tainted by an internet troll on a friend’s Facebook page who tried (and had some partial success – shame on me) to bait me into ridiculous arguments about rape statistics and how men are victimized as much as women. I walked right into the trap looking at the rope dangling around my foot, until common sense showed me his arguments were SO off-the-charts that he was either mentally deficient, or purposely trying to bait me. I slipped the trap off my foot and backed out the door quickly.
Less than an hour later I read of the school shooting and I felt sick. Like literally sick. My empathy pores started to slowly open – only this time, perhaps because I was already a tad saturated with anger from the above mentioned, it wasn’t sadness that was the only emotion overwhelming me. It was anger too.
I felt like I had stepped back in time – a week, a month, a year, ten years? And I could predict each movement that would be made. Prayers, first and foremost. I don’t know why that angers me so much. I think because it feels so insincere from so many. It’s that go-to thing to say, that with all due respect to those who pray, don’t fix a damn thing in these situations. If praying makes YOU feel better, all the more power to you. But stop offering them to these victims that needed change in gun laws years before. Your prayers today still won’t stop the carnage tomorrow if something isn’t done by Congress. My spirituality doesn’t really call for it, so when people ask for prayers, I tend to simply turn a mental corner. Do I hope that the families find an ounce of solace somewhere, sometime? Absolutely. But throwing out that prayer lifeline is so stale to me, so overdone, over asked – it’s like throwing droplets of holy water on a raging fire.
Let’s tack on the hypocrisy of the statement coming from a leader, who has shown he didn’t have a holy bone in his body prior to his run for election. It feels false, hypocritical and just out right fake. “Our thoughts and prayers …” “Our hearts and prayers …” same old story that does nothing to shield the next fallen children from tragedy. That pisses me off, because I know, the real issue – the accused killer and most of all, his means of killing, will be ignored.
Next will come the arguments. I don’t claim the throne of empathy. There are scores of people out there who feel just as much as I do. Some, their thoughts follow along with mine, and we can commiserate through liked Meme’s and social commentaries. Others, whose ideals might be opposite of mine will still feel in the same way I do, but their social purposes are usually going against the grain of mine. This is where friendships with different social ideals can be a slippery slope. It’s hard not to call out to those who arguments are so fiercely opposite of mine, to just fuck off. “I’m right and you’re a douche”, I think, while common sense and the healer in me, understands that this argument has two sides and both afford the right to be heard.
Guns. The arguments is Guns. It’s Second Amendment that tells us “”A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Some feel this amendment should never change. Some people feel this amendment should be abolished. Some don’t know the amendment can be tweaked. It was for example, in 1939 when brought in front of the Supreme a case regarding sawed-off shotguns. A definitive resolution could not be made, but they did decide that the Second Amendment did not guarantee the right to bear certain arms. Or to quote them directly “..we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. Certainly it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense.” (The issue was sawed off shot-guns). My point on this will come later.
I’ll be honest, I’ve been a fence sitter on this issue for as long as I can recall. My reasoning has really been about the government stepping into yet another role of big brother. I hate the government being involved in my day-to-day life, and if that includes my right to own a gun, then so be it. Step off Big Brother.
I’ve never wanted to be that person. The one that gun owners, lovers and lobbyists fear. Hate. The ones you picture prying your guns out of your cold dead hands. I have no dog in this fight was my thought. I don’t hate guns. I don’t love them either. I respect them. I fear them, but I know the fear is based on a lack of knowledge. It’s the way I fear a pit bull dog. Until I know that particular dog is on some sort of lock down, by a responsible owner who can confirm he is of no risk, I want to be careful around them. I understand they can kill when held in the hand of the wrong individual.
I was raised by a gun lover. I didn’t know that growing up. It was a different generation. People didn’t talk about guns as freely as they do now. At least not in my burg. If she had a gun when I was a child she hid it VERY well, because I was a very snoopy child. But that’s a story for another time.
No, it wasn’t until I was an adult and was bringing my own children into her home that she told me. I don’t think she did it as a courtesy for me to make a decision on whether I wanted my own children around it. I think we might have been talking politics, or we might have been discussing a gun she inherited. Irrelevant. She just made it clear she had a gun. Maybe more. I was a bit stunned. But only a bit. She made it very clear that it was nowhere where my girls would come across it, and to be honest I never worried about it.
My point is that I haven’t hated guns for a lifetime. I haven’t even hated them for five minutes. Guns are like that friend of a friend. You know of them. You might even know a lot about them, but you don’t claim them as your friend. As well, you don’t claim them as your enemy.
I have dated men who liked guns. I have friends who are gun owners. I even have friends who are very accomplished shooters. Is that even the right word? Someone who gets certificated and awards for their advanced ability to shoot.
I have even contemplated owning one myself, and for the same exact reason 95% of Americans want one. Home protection. Security for that off-chance that a person could break into my home and I could protect myself. I used to joke that I wanted a little pink polished Derringer. That statement was more playful than anything. A, “Look at how cute this is!”, without taking the reality of the weapon into consideration. Nothing that kills, should ever be placed in the hands of someone who treats it like a toy poodle, and I get that. I really was trying to convey that because of fear, I wanted something small. As well, one of those friends I mentioned above told me in a serious tone how errant they are at hitting the target, and she started to explain to me which gun I should own, and while at the time I was very interested in what she had to say, I can’t recall the details now.
That’s my point about owning one. I want to own one in theory. I know, for me, I’d have to be educated before I’d allow one to live in my home. There I go, speaking of them as if they were a roommate. Like I need to show them some space, and some respect. But I look at a gun as a purpose for one thing. To kill. A knife, you can kill someone with, but it’s also used to cut meat. Vegetables. Bread. Boxes. It’s inherit purpose in life isn’t to kill. As neither is a fist, or a rope, or any other number of items one could use in a form of murder.
But a gun? One purpose. You don’t buy a gun to learn how to shoot a person’s kneecap off (unless there is a job for that, that I am totally unaware of). You buy it to kill. To protect yourself. Your loved ones. Perhaps kill an animal if you’re that sort. And if your loved one or yourself is being threatened, you don’t think, I’m just going to shoot him in the pinky, to scare him off. You shoot to kill. Yes, you might take the gun out to a range, or to the desert and do target shooting, but ultimately you are practicing for that one night the intruder comes in.
I don’t know anyone who has had to shoot an intruder. I don’t even know anyone who knows someone who had to shoot an intruder. On the other hand I do know several people who were involved with the Las Vegas Massacre. I also know of someone who was victimized in the San Bernardino shooting, although I have to say I wasn’t personal friends with him. I just read on Facebook of someone’s child who used to go to the school in Florida that was just shot up.
My point is – it seems like these six degrees of Massacres are playing very close to me — yet, the reason we all claim we want the guns – I’m not hearing about those. I will. The NRA will start up the well placed articles and tidbits that commend another hero who was able to (fill in the blank) because of his gun ownership.
What I do know from unbiased research is that in just the past six weeks, we have had eleven school shootings. ELEVEN.
Think about that. This is just in 2018. 46 days of the new year. Roughly one shooting every 4 days.
Let that sink in for a moment. Every four days, a gun has gone off in a child’s school.
Has the President announced an epidemic on this? I’d say it is. No other Nation in the world has those statistics. Furthermore as of this morning, has he offered anything but – say it with me now folks, thoughts and prayers — of course not.
Now I’ll be fair and state I haven’t been able to see what type of guns were used in all of these school shootings. And while I think even one shooting at a school is a monstrosity, I’m not about grabbing my pitchfork and lantern and scouring the countryside in a wide rabid berth to confiscate firearms.
I have but one question: Why the fuck is it necessary for anyone outside of the military to need a semi-automatic rifle that fires 13 rounds per second?
I’ve heard your arguments. Defense against home intruders. Defense against an uprising of corrupt government. Give me five statistics where these were used — wait, where those were needed, for either of these defensives. Because guess what? I can easily give you five statistics where these were used to gun down innocent lives.
Now here is how I see it:
While we protect our homes from these armed invaders that never appear, a different kind of invader is showing up at our schools and our concerts venues and our movie theaters.
I hear you all say to be you want to be armed and ready for when they attack you, but you don’t stop and think how they are already armed and ready to attack; your children as students. Your parents as teachers and administrators. Your Spouses, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Neighbors and Friends who were just heading out for some social fun.
How are your guns, kept put away so safely for your use later, helping today?
I’m not here to bang the gong and pry your guns out of your hands. I’m not even here to ask you to give them up, because I know the only thing that comes between a gun lover and his gun, is the person stupid enough to step in front of that muzzle.
I just want – no wait, I DEMAND something more than thoughts and prayers to keep my children, and my grandchildren safe. I don’t want studies about how medications are the issues. How mental deficiencies are the issues. That’s a given. A normal, sane person does not think “Hey I think I’ll go shoot up a school today.”
We know that mental illness is the core issue. Perhaps bad parenting could be another. Perhaps inadequate or incorrect prescription drugs are another. Perhaps desensitized video games. Bullying. There is a slew of reasons. These all add up to a perfect storm, but to bake this cake of tragedy we need one main ingredient, and that is a weapon. If the weapon of choice is a handgun, or a rifle, there will still be carnage, which is wickedly horrible. But if the weapon of choice is a high powered semi-automatic assault rifle, designed for the use as a military style weapon, the numbers go much higher. What might be 1-2 victims turns into sadly 17.
You tell me which you’d rather bet on for survival. For your child’s survival. A person with dead intent on killing with a handgun, or with a gun that fires 5x the bullets that handgun can?
In ending I hope for once societies anger doesn’t dissipate as this story fades into the foreground of society. I hope we stay amped up enough to make a difference. To get those answers. To demand changes in gun laws, and remove things like bump stocks, and question the validity and necessity of owning military style weapons for the average citizen.
I guess if I had hopes and prayers, that’s what this would be for.