Guns and Roses

It’s been almost a month since an 18-year-old walked into a grocery store in Buffalo, NY, shooting thirteen people and killing ten of them. He live-streamed part of his attack. The person arrested for this crime has entered a plea of “not guilty.”

It’s been nearly three weeks since 19 children and two teachers were killed in a classroom in Texas, and I still haven’t talked to my kids about it. I refused to watch a 10-year old testify in Congress that she stayed alive by covering herself in a classmate’s blood. I couldn’t listen to her father say how his daughter has changed since that day. It’s been three weeks and I still have to fight back tears at the thought of it.

We have had more mass shootings than we have had days of the year. Not all of these shootings have been deadly, but many are. There is not enough time to mourn the dead before we get news of another tragedy. It is hard, and it is heartbreaking.

Of course, there are calls for reform and stricter gun laws. I’ve heard people spouting ideas like arm the teachers, and buy your kids bulletproof backpacks. Some of the dumbest plans I’ve heard call for a reduction in entrance and exit points in schools. These people would rather break fire safety laws than enact sensible firearm legislation.

I’ve heard politicians and their operatives talk about the mental health crisis in this country, racial animus, and growing dissatisfaction with the government. These same folks then turn around and discuss the sanctity of the second Amendment. Because I have a curious mind, I decided to take another look at the amendment:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

It’s funny how we skip over the first part of the amendment, right to the part we like. There is nothing well regulated about the militias that have formed today. At least, not from the outside. I’m not saying they aren’t well organized. I’m saying that some of them are not as interested in a “free State”, unless they agree with the person in the White House. I also have questions as to whether they would extend that freedom to people who may not look or think like they do. But that’s a discussion for another day.

The people have the right to keep and bear arms. It says so right there. But before the constitution, the framers wrote the Declaration of Independence. In it, declared that there were inalienable rights, and among those, were the right to life, the right to liberty, and the right to the pursuit of happiness. What do we do when one of the enumerated rights is in direct contrast with the unalienable rights of others? Don’t see it?

The people in that grocery store, were going about their everyday lives, picking up birthday cakes, and strawberries for dessert. They were deprived of the right to life when someone with an assault rifle took aim at them. There were fourth graders who sat in a locked classroom, deprived of their liberty for nearly an hour, while a gunman shot their teachers and their classmates. And as for the pursuit of happiness, what does that even look like as we’re burying babies and senior citizens, none of whom died of natural causes? This is a man-made disaster, not an act of God.

We are facing a mental health crisis in this country. There is racial animus. People are disappointed in our government and folks are getting desperate. But we also have a gun problem in this country. Anybody with any of the above issues can walk into a store and buy as many guns and as much ammunition as they want with very few restrictions. Until we are seriously willing to do something about that, we will continue to have to lay wreaths and roses at the grave sites of far too many people.

A famous rock band once sang “Welcome to the jungle. It gets worse here everyday.” The song was supposed to be entertaining. Now it almost seems prophetic.

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