I remember July 18, 1984 really well. I was at camp in Maine -- ironically, at the shooting range -- when someone shared the outside-world news that a man had shot people at a McDonald's in California. I know this incident -- where a man walked the restaurant and killed 21 -- wasn't the first of its kind, but it was definitely the first that had a personal, real-time effect on me while at the same time appearing to usher in the modern age of mass murder.
At the time I was horrified, disgusted, and scared of the event and the pictures that followed. I specifically remember the image of a kid's bicycle tipped over in front of the McDonald's with him lying next to it. He appeared to be around my age. Being young, I was mostly able to tuck these thoughts away to be re-evaluated in my adult years, a time when I thought I could make sense of the events. Unfortunately, when I did get older I learned the dark truth that there is no sense to be made, leaving me just as confused as the 11-year-old yet without the comfort of a future understanding.
I've been saying to anyone that will listen that for the past few years that there has been a multiple-person gun killing almost every day. I've often challenged those who disagree to get on Google news and check for themselves. The epidemic we have going is insanely out of control, and for every Oregon mall or Connecticut school, there are shootings in between that don't get the coverage. Gun deaths are about to eclipse automobile deaths for the first time ever. Recently The Onion wrote a scathing article celebrating a week without a shooting, though just after publishing they had to update with the truthful and painfully telling words "Never mind."
I personal would love to see guns banned. Sure, I've gone shooting and have had fun doing it. But I'd miss them about as much as a ban on golf, which is not one bit. The idea that the citizens believe in their arms preventing our government from controlling their rights is so far out of touch with the realities of a military that outspends every other country in the world combined. One button-push could take out a Michigan militia compound and every beer-bellied, camo-wearing defender of the constitution before the president woke up for breakfast.
So many also believe we should be defending fire with fire. Arm the schools, arm the girlfriends and arm yourself! We are a country living in fear and it is beginning to effect all of us. I don't believe in fear as I truly think you get back what you put out, an idea that has been proven in my mind over and over again. If the problem with banning guns is dealing with the criminals, then deal with the criminals. No one ever said it would be easy, but given the current state of our country, what other choice do we have? Because the only option we don't have is doing nothing.
Of course, choosing love and understanding over fear is idealistic hippy b.s., but I don't care. That's my choice to make. I'll never be packing heat, and neither will most everyone else. So it's about time we criminalize guns for everyone's sake. Because the idea that this country could handle every citizen walking around with loaded arms -- and it would make everything better -- is totally blind to the inherent inability we have displayed almost every day when it comes to guns.
It's sad and sickening that it even takes such a tragic event to have these conversations. We just re-elected a president who spent his entire campaign only talking about gun control three times because his advisors believe we don't want to hear about it. It's time to let them know we want to not only hear about it, but see something done. It's time to choose love over fear and consideration over conflict. If these ideas are unrealistic, I invite you to join in my unreality because almost every positive change in society seemed unrealistic at some point. Most of all, it's time to demand a concerted effort to become a civilized society once again so I can explain to my inner 11-year-old that we eventually did make things better.
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