Let’s Do More Than Pray About Gun Violence
i had a post all queued up and ready to go this morning. it’s about gifts for soon-to-be-fathers but it felt contrived to press publish on it. i sat for a good hour this morning debating whether or not to publish the article and get on with my day or write about the mass shooting in orlando. i hesitated to write an article on the subject because i don’t necessarily think i can add much to the social media discussion that hasn’t already been circulated around the internet and yet, i couldn’t sit quiet either.
i will say that my heart aches that people use guns to kill people. my first encounter with mass gun murder was in 6th grade. i sat huddled on the floor with our school in lockdown, hugging my sobbing best friend – the horrendous events of the columbine shooting happening 8 miles away. her brother thankfully escaped but 13 people lost their lives that day.
every time something like this happens, which is astonishingly frequently in this country, my immediate thought is that the people who have been murdered are people’s children. they leave behind families of their own. they have school desks or offices that they will never occupy again. they have dreams that will never get the chance to come to fruition. they have a favorite mug that will sit in a cupboard, used no more.
i get the sentiment of “pray for <insert horrible tragedy here>” and while i don’t use the word ‘pray’ myself, i do keep those people and their families in my thoughts. however, is that enough?
i think there is value in showing public media support by changing profile photos or posting graphics to show that we stand in solidarity but it is not enough.
- be proactive in policy change. you can do this by educating yourself around the laws, legislation and leaders that we elect (and don’t elect – i.e. the republican nominee is a complete embarrassment to our country and would be detrimental for infinite reasons). you can find your representative here to contact them.
- donate or volunteer. seek out organizations that are working to change these policies. if you can’t give your time or talents, give your money. here is one for “everytown for gun safety.“
- seek to understand. we all have our prejudices – every single one of us (myself included). acknowledge them first then work to dismantle them. it’s not an easy process but i believe this is absolutely part of the solution.
- continue to speak out and be visible. again, i do think there is some value in publicly (i.e. social media) showing your support when tragedy strikes. i caution at stopping here, which i am guilty of too. when we add a photo to show this support, it often quiets the guilt and confusion we struggle with when a tragedy happens. it makes us feel proactive but honestly – nothing changes. do this and more.
- continue to think good thoughts and pray. again, i am not saying we shouldn’t be keeping these people in our thoughts but there needs to be more than that if we truly want to change what is going on in our country.
when we were in australia last year, a twenty-something came up to me and timidly said, “hey, i’m traveling to america for the first time in a few months. how prepared should i be about all the guns everyone has?”
i was taken aback because yes, i know people who own guns and yes that is a right in our country. as our conversation continued – i realized how he viewed america. he said that because of the media and because of so many deaths in our country resulting from gun violence, he assumed everyone owned a gun and those guns sat as casually on a restaurant table as the salt and pepper shaker did.
he is not the first person outside of america to share these similar thoughts and views with me.
this is part of how our country is portrayed to those outside of it and frankly, i find it appalling and disheartening. i realize it’s not realistic to ban guns but it is repulsive that semi-automatics can be obtained.
i know the argument of “people kill people” but they are doing so with the aid of guns. i know the argument of “well if only those people in the club had a gun too then they could have stopped him.” i don’t know about you, but i no longer live nor want to live in the wild west where people solve things with gun fights. i don’t want to live in a community where people always have one hand on the trigger ‘just in case.’
i want to live in a world where i can see a movie, go to school, send my child to school, go dancing, go to a concert, go shopping – live my life without the fear of being shot dead. that is up to me and that is up to you so let’s start taking more action.