On the way back from dropping the kids off at daycare this morning, I listened to the news. I’d read about the shootings in Orlando yesterday but hearing it spoken out loud stirred up the feelings that have become too familiar: fear, anger, frustration, confusion, and amazement. I then set off to run on the trail near my house as I do nearly every morning. It’s a gorgeous day here but that didn’t stop the emotional swirl. The fear, anger, frustration, confusion, and amazement took my breath away. I stopped twice to gasp for air.
It’s been barely more than 24 hours and the voices on social media—including bloggers I enjoy and respect—are advising us all to stuff these emotions down. They reason that the hateful want us to be afraid and we shouldn’t give them what they want. They further reason that the victims would want us to move one and so we should give them what they’d want.
I don’t know that the victims would be ready for us to move just yet. Maybe a month from now or a year from now but right at this moment, my guess is that they’re pretty pissed. They had future plans- people to marry, kids to raise, trips to take, promotions to earn. Hell, many of them probably had dry-cleaning to pick up. Their lives are left unlived.
What to do?
First, I’m going to be sad for the victims, their friends and families, and for all of us for a little while longer. I’m also thinking about some proactive steps I can take to protect myself since our lawmakers are unable and unwilling to do anything on our behalf. I’m a believer in taking personal responsibility so now is the time to walk the walk. I pulled together this list of “dos and don’ts” based on the risky behaviors of mass shooting victims in the recent past.
- Don’t go to the movies on opening night. You can catch it when it comes out on Netflix.
- Do demand a psychological profile of all of your kid’s teacher’s family members. Home school if the principal won’t make a switch.
- Don’t go to your intermediate French class. It’s too early in the morning and most French people speak English anyways.
- Do skip the office holiday potluck. You’ll be better off just eating that pan of brownies you made by yourself.
- Actually, don’t go to work if your office may have disgruntled employees with untreated mental illnesses.
- And, the most recent add-- Don’t get dressed up and go dancing after midnight.
Of course, doing any or all of these things won’t really protect us. The nonsensical argument about gun rights has become so twisted that we’re trampling a much bigger, more important “umbrella” right that we share which is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To protect the feelings of a few, we risk the lives of so many.
Can we start again with action to ban these weapons of mass destruction? This isn’t about sports and hunting so we can just skip that part of the debate altogether.
If it’s illegal to sell these weapons to ISIS cells in Syria, can we make it illegal to sell them to suspected supporters here? Can that be a starting point?
Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to immediately move from there to banning the sale to anyone with a criminal history or mental illness. I’d then like to move on to taking them off the market altogether.
If we can’t do that, can we require owners to keep them stored at a gun range? Why do people need to bring them home? I’d like to have a horse in my yard but I’m not allowed because the stink might bother my neighbors and it’d be unsafe to ride in Northern Virginia traffic.
The gun sellers typically take a pretty narrow view of their role—it’s all about the business transaction- but, I have to believe that they cross paths with people who make them nervous. Shouldn’t gun sellers speak up? If we can’t require lengthier background checks, can we require anyone who sold a gun to someone who later used it to shoot more than 4 people at a time (the FBI’s definition of a mass shooting) to spend a weekend with the victim’s family? I wonder if trying to do normal things like grocery shop and watch TV with the weight of the family’s sadness would cause the sellers see the bigger picture.