It's hard to believe that this past week marks the one year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting. That 49 people lost their lives and 53 others were injured in an attack on the Latino and LGBTQIA community.One year since so many people lost a friend, sibling, child, partner.One year since countless people had a the feeling of safety and acceptance which existed only in a gay bar.And in that one year over 500 people have lost their lives due to mass shootings alone.
This past Monday I went to a candle vigil to remember the victims and survivors of the Pulse Night Club shooting. It was beautiful and moving and emotional but it should never have happened. Candle light vigils for a mass shooting are something I never want to go to again.
I never want to have the flag lowered at half mast after another shooting. I never want to sit through another "Run, Hide, Fight" presentation. I never want to sit scanning my local movie theater in case someone decided today was a good day to go on a murderous rampage. I never want to have to go on lock down because someone saw something oddly shaped in someone's car. And I never want to hear another politician send their "thoughts and prayers" after a mass shooting ever again. Thoughts and prayers are not going to stop these things from happening. But some common sense gun laws will.
Now this does not mean get rid of guns at all. If you desire a hand gun or rifle for self defense or hunting (or because you just like to go shoot at the range) go ahead. As long as you are back ground checked and practice responsible gun ownership that is your right. But note that I did say that you should be background checked. There are far to many states in this country where you can walk into a store and buy a gun the same day. No test, no background check, just an ID. Buying a weapon made to kill people should not be easier then getting a learners permit. I am actually amazed that is a conterversial statement.
What makes this problem even worse is that people can access high capacity, automatic weapons as civilians. These are not weapons for self defense or hunting, these are weapons of war. These guns are made to kill a high number of people in a short amount of time. Why are we letting civilians have them? What else do we expect but death and destruction to follow in their wake? Especially since these can easily fall into the hands of violent,hateful people. Omar Mateen got his gun legally. Dylan Roof got his gun legally because of a loophole written into the law. The gun used in Sandy Hook was obtained legally.
We need to close these loopholes. We need to keep weapons of war off the street. We need people with a history of violent behavior to not have access to guns. I truly believe we can do this while still protecting the rights of responsible gun owners that are laid out in the Bill of Rights (and if you really think you need a high capacity assault rifle for self defense you don't need a gun, you need a board certified therapist). But how can we make this a reality? How can we make common sense gun laws which allow responsible citizens to have guns while keeping them out of the hands of criminals? Some would say it is impossible. I say it's easy if you know how to do it.
First we need to stand up to the gun lobby. The NRA has donated over $3 million to Congressman currently in office. So feel free to call them up and ask them about that. Write to your Congressman and tell them you want common sense gun control. That you want to weapons of mass destruction off the streets and for guns to only go to responsible owners. Join alliances such as the Pride Fund which is the only grass roots group in existence to focus solely on gun control. And if you have a gun get trained, lock it up, practice responsible ownership. Keep it from falling into the wrong hands so I at least don't have to attend your candle light vigil.