When I was fourteen years old, I snuck out of my house to go to a party. Afterward, I had a friend’s mom drop me off at home. I could see my mom through the window. She was still awake and talking on the phone, so I decided to walk to the store for a soda. I waited for my friend and her mom to drive off and then started walking up to the store. The closest store was closed, so I kept walking. Cars were passing, but I didn’t think too much of it, until one of the cars had my parents’ friends in it and they called out to me and then pulled over.
They were like, um, where ya going? I tried to explain, but they took me back to their place to call my house. There was a busy signal. This was before cell phones. Every night, my mom took the phone off the hook at night, to avoid my friends or whoever calling while we were all asleep, so there was no getting through.
We decided I would go back and let myself in the front door. My original plan involved sneaking in the back door, but with them there watching over my shoulder, I unlocked the front door and when it opened, my father ran to the top of the stairs with a gun shouting, “Who’s there?”
When I said it was me, he didn’t believe me. Plus he was asleep, and he thought I was too. Why would be believe me?
He aimed the gun toward me and his friends called out to him, saying who they were. My Dad turned on the light and lowered the gun, slowly realizing it was me. It was hard, if not impossible to believe my Dad would actually shoot me. But he didn’t think it was me. What if he had shot me? What if he hadn’t had such control?
Guns and mentally unstable people firing them on others seem to be rampant these days. Last year there was the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords in a supermarket near Tucson. Of those who were shot at, six of them died. One was a child. Geez, you hate to go to the supermarket thinking you’re going to buy bread and then end up getting killed by a bullet.
And recently there was the gunman in the theater in Colorado. He just shot up the theater and killed twelve people. He thought he was the joker. Again, hate to go to see a movie and get shot.
And then the Sikh temple, so in your place of worship too?
And then the Texas A&M shooting Monday. And your school?
Where are we safe from people who want to shoot us?
What does this mean for gun control? What does this mean for the collective conscious?
I don’t think there are any easy answers, but the issue is power. Guns give power because if you have one, you decide what to do with it. You decide who lives and who dies. There have been too many people who are not mentally and emotionally stable enough to own guns hurting others, too many intentionally violent acts by one person against another, too many accidents.
Women Against Gun Violence report that in the U.S.:
– 40% of households with children have guns.
– 9 children are killed per day in the U.S. with guns.
– 34 people a day are murdered in the United States with guns.
– 46 suicides a day are committed in the U.S. with guns.
There are a lot of guns in my family, but they are used for hunting and sport. When does that become murder of people? I shot rifles when I was younger, a hand gun in college and I owned a bee-bee gun as a kid. That said, I have also been held up by a stranger on the street supposedly because I was walking with a person of color. I have been at a party where someone ran through waving a gun; everyone hit the floor.
I’m not a big proponent of guns, but should we be able to have them at all? What about guns that are built to kill people, like machine guns? Do we need machine guns? Do we need automatic weapons in our society?
I think the underlying fear is that we might be attacked by zombies, or by our version of zombies, meaning whoever we might be afraid of. So, some angry mob of whoever might hate us and attack us. But, we think, they won’t be able to if I have my gun. We might need our guns to protect ourselves.
What does it do to our collective conscious as a society when, as a whole, we fear we are in danger enough to need guns built for murdering people?
I listed four big shooting incidents above and in all of them, guns were the weapon that killed people not the weapon that protected people.
What if we generally didn’t have guns as a society? How would our society change without the threat of gun violence? Would we act differently with people?
What if we better regulated guns? Would the amount of gun violence go down?
Women Against Gun Violence has been in action since 1993. The Los Angeles Police Commissioner at the time, Ann Reiss Lane, put guns and gun violence forward as a women’s issue. “With the involvement of women and their families, the coalition hoped to profoundly change the climate of the gun violence debate by working with elected officials, survivors, and communities” (taken from their website).
What makes something a woman’s issue? It is a woman’s issue, sure, but this is everyone’s issue. I write this now to encourage women and men to talk about gun safety, thoughts about guns and gun violence, with their partners, families, and children.
When we can’t go to the movies, or the supermarket, to school, or our place of worship without being afraid we might get shot or thinking that is a possibility, guns are not keeping us safe, they are controlling how and whether we live.