22 Dec. | Update: Please understand that I wrote this under the influence of confusion and anger, that my blog sometimes functions as a place for me to work out my feelings, and that I am far (far!) from an expert on any of the below topics. I stand by my views, but for better, wiser, stronger posts, please see these:
Warning: Full-blown, semi-coherent RANT ahead. I am mad, and I’m not being polite or perky or appropriate today.
It’s a beautiful day in Barcelona. Sunny, in the low 60s. The city is full of holiday spirit: Christmas craft stalls, flower stands, marching bands.
But I feel thousands of miles away.
My mind keeps wandering to the shootings at Sandy Hook School in Connecticut. I can’t make sense of it, and so I read all the news stories I can find, bewildered and sickened and so sad.
Why am I gaping at story after story with the same horrific details? To try to find something that’ll settle my thoughts? To see if there are any words to express what the families are going through and how they’ll ever move forward?
I’m looking in the faces of the children in Barcelona more than ever. They are so innocent, so fresh-eyed and so, so sweet. I cannot fathom how anyone could shoot a child.
Since I heard the story on Friday night, I’ve wanted to pretend it doesn’t exist. Just days before, there was a shooting in a mall in Portland. And, a day after Connecticut, 50 shots fired at a mall in Los Angeles.
In 2011 alone, there were more than 30,000 deaths by gun violence in the United States. (source)
That means some 85 people are killed everyday in firearm-related incidents (including suicides). (source)
And let’s talk homicide. In 2009, there were nearly 11,500 homicides caused by guns in the U.S. (source) By comparison, there were 2 homicides caused by guns in Japan in 2006, and 11 in 2008. In the UK, there were 18 homicides by guns in 2009. (source)
And I know it’s not just about the guns. It’s about the people; it’s about the culture. But we come from a culture of gun violence. It’s all intertwined.
I’m so angry.
I’m so ashamed of America right now.
I hate that some people ostensibly use the constitution (freedom to fucking bear arms) as an excuse to kill. I hate that we are a nation of people who don’t support gun control. (Yes, many of us do – strongly – but my Facebook feed is rife with bullshit like, Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. Okay, but if those people couldn’t get ahold of their guns so easily, could they do so much damage so swiftly? And if those people could cry for help in other ways, could get access to mental health care cheaply and easily, would it come to this? And if our criminal justice system was one of rehabilitation, would we be able to help people actually heal?)
I want every conservative Republican who’s still not in favor of tighter gun control after Connecticut to be forced to sit in a room with the parents of the dead children and the families of the dead teachers. See the looks in those people’s eyes and then try to tell me that guns don’t kill people.
It is proven that more guns means more murder. (source)
Last I checked, there are 4 states in America where it’s legal to bring a firearm into a bar. And it’s legal to carry a gun into restaurants that serve alcohol in some 15 or more states. You will never convince me that there’s a rational reason for that.
You can tell me until the cows come home that you come from a family of hunters and that your parents taught you all about gun safety. That’s fantastic, but I don’t give shit. That’s not bringing any of these people back to life.
You can tell me that you have a right to “protect” yourself. To which I will say: What the hell are you protecting yourself against if not another fear-crazed person like you WHO ALSO HAS A GUN?! (And, as a caveat, may I also rant for a moment about the fucked up culture of fear in America? People are using senseless acts like Connecticut to start arguing in the opposite direction that we need more guns, that teachers should be armed. You have got to be kidding me. Why are we propagating a culture of fear? How about we work together to improve education and economic equality and cultural tolerance, instead of being god-damned scared shitless all of the time and saying we need guns to keep us “safe?”)
I want to be able to channel my anger toward something more productive, but I can’t bring myself to it right now.
When I first heard the news of Connecticut and saw all of the political posts on Facebook, I posted that we should give space to compassion first.
I’m lacking compassion right now.
I want to try to be compassionate toward the killer’s family, particularly his mother (whom he shot), but I’m not there yet. She didn’t deserve death, but what was happening in his life that she didn’t intervene (or did she try)? Why was he able to get his hands on so many of her weapons? Why did she flaunt her weapons to neighbors like badges of honor?
I want to try to be compassionate toward people with political views different than my own, to respect their right to their beliefs, even if I don’t understand them. But I can’t right now.
I want change in America. I want a future for our country that I can believe in. Now is the time for Obama to step in and change gun laws. We cannot continue to lose so many lives.
My heart goes out to the families of Sandy Hook School and their community. I’m so deeply sorry for your losses.