(I’m a Mom. So I feel I have a right, as much as anyone, to share my thoughts about guns. I’m no legislator, no commentator, no analyst. I make a lot of buttered noodles, change like 5 diapers a day, and most often avoid the news because it looks to me like the infrastructure holding our two party system together is quickly crumbling. But I digress. Guns.)
Not sure when guns began to mean freedom for some legislators, for some citizens.
Maybe it was when the Black Panthers needed to arm themselves to defend against racial injustice. That makes sense. Or when frontiersman needed to be safe fighting against the hardships of life in the wild. Logical.
Not sure when people started using the 2nd Amendment (intended to protect against musket-fueled military coups) as justification to claim that they and violent criminals have the right to buy an automatic weapon and use it for sport or terrorism.
Not sure why we’re calling legislators who support easy access to assault weapons “pro-gun” instead of “pro-violence” at this point.
I’ve shot guns before. In college, I had a friend who was a gun enthusiast who took me into the Rocky Mountains to shoot his AK-47 assault rifle. Was it fun? Not really. Did it make me feel powerful? Yes. Do people need to feel that particular power, the power of a gun, to feel free? No.
At least not if they’re living in communities where they are free. Where they feel free. Where they can walk down the street, go to work, raise children, be safe existing in our country. When they have access to great solid mental and emotional healers who help them feel free from within.
Yes, there’s a big mental health problem in this country. Which is exactly why there should be gun control. That’s just it’s own argument. Would you want your local psychiatric institution to have a gun booth next to the food court? Let me tell you, people who are feeling depressed, panicked or repressed in daily life- in their minds, in their families, in their communities- they’re not feeling free. I speak from experience. So we better stop associating guns with freedom starting now. It’s not like ditching your bra or using windpower and going off-grid. Guns are weapons. They’re not freedom.
Freedom is knowing you have a right to be yourself. It is feeling safe in your communities and parks and subways and schools, knowing your neighbors and friends and leaders have your back, that they celebrate and support you, that they care, that we- all of us- care about each other. It’s getting help from someone really good at helping you be you, and to recover from any traumas life may have handed you. It is feeling sane and healthy and empowered to work and learn and earn and grow. That is freedom.
When there is a suicide attempt in a home, the first advice given is to remove all weapons, lock up all medications and store knives and sharp objects away. In other words, if mental health is a big problem, make the scary things harder to find. Because it helps. What else is there to explain?
The freedom of children and teachers and families who are able to live and thrive in their communities is the freedom referred to in our Constitution. It is exponentially more important than cash and the Congressmen and gun sellers and the NRA offering an easy pathway to attaining an assault rifle.
For as long as we are fighting to establish the mental health of our citizens, we should have rigid gun control. And when everyone’s hunky-dory and painting rainbows on their cheeks, guess what? Nobody will want assault rifles as a hobby or to make a statement because they’ll be too busy living their damn lives, singing and shit and shooting bows and arrows for fun if they have to like fucking Katniss and they will understand the risk of introducing violent weapons into communities.
When I was working in a high school, the social studies students did a pen pal exchange with Australian students in the same grade. They were supposed to draw pictures of their impressions of each other’s countries. Our kids drew kangaroos and the Great Barrier Reef. When we got the letters in from Australia, you know what they drew? Mostly guns. And that was 10 years ago. Super, right?
Do I think the NRA can switch gears and be reasonable as it has in the past? (First started in the 1800’s as primarily a program to improve marksmanship! And for the next 100 years the NRA condoned or supported limitations on gun accessibility to criminals and the mentally ill.) Yes I do.
Do I think the freedom of individuals and communities to live without the threat of violence warrants a redefinition of the 2nd Amendment and the prohibition of violent assault weapons? Yes I do.
Do I think people should start hitting Congressmen and women where it hurts? Making it so difficult to support easy access to weapons that they cave in like the cowards they are? Yes I do.
Maybe thinking out of the box is called for.
Obviously yes, vote them out of office. That one’s easy.
Billboards, yes. And yard signs in neighbor’s yards with permission, and teepeeing of houses, and magnetic bumper stickers on their cars that say it like it is: “I support gun violence.”
For pro-gun legislators with families, what if life was really difficult for them? What if their spouses were on board with gun control? After a tough day on the Hill, “Hi, honey, I’m home! What’s for dinner?” “Dog food. And you can sleep in the tent out in the yard until you change your mind on gun legislation.”
Do these legislators drink coffee? Have a favorite restaurant? Barber shop? If Congressman Bob’s regular is a double espresso, let’s make that a decaf vanilla soy latte for “Boob, the violence lover.” And if Congresswoman Sue needs her roots touched up, guess what? All booked up for the next decade.
What if life were really uncomfortable for them? What if neighbors put up signs that said, “My neighbor supports gun violence” with an arrow pointing straight at their home. Think the kids would like that? Think they might give mom or dad shit endlessly until things got really tense at home?
What if Democrats got really savvy and dirty and hired hackers to disable NRA supporters’ technology so their screens only show guinea pigs in knitted sweaters holding dandelions? What if they changed their ringtones to “All We Are Saying, Is Give Peace a Chance?”
What if their childhood heroes pay them a visit? Buzz Aldrin or The Rock or David Letterman or the Pope or Bono or the Dalai Lama shows up at their door to chat? To hold them accountable? To ask them why?
We all know that no why is good enough. Not when people are dying. These men and women, the ones who want to make assault weapons easier to get than citizenship? They are the why. And they’re not good enough. And they’ll learn that soon enough when they’re voted out.