This isn’t usually how I roll on this blog and, I apologize in advance if this post offends you or bores you but, there is something I’ve been thinking about lately – why has there been no gun legislation passed since Sandy Hook?
I live in close proximity to one of the most dangerous cities in the United States and, I am tired of hearing about the endless stream of gun violence that radiates from it. I am tired of going to the movies and being afraid that someone is going to take out a gun and shoot everyone. I am tired of going to the mall and seeing the remnants of a shooting too close to home.
The United States is supposed to be one of the world’s superpowers, among the best and brightest, yet, why can’t I turn on the news without hearing about someone else having been shot – white, black, young, old. No one is immune.
Over a year ago, twenty six people including twenty children were murdered at an elementary school in Sandy Hook, Connecticut by a gunman with automatic weapons. I remember crying while icing Christmas cookies that year as President Obama read the names of the twenty children, one of them having shared the same name as my elementary aged nephew.
This shooting was the same year that 12 people were killed in a theatre in Aurora, Colorado which was preceded by the six people who were murdered in Tuscan, Arizona in 2011, wounding then Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Every time this happens, Americans are promised change. Tougher laws. No automatic weapons. The fact that I live in a country that requires me to show my ID to buy cold medicine, but does not require mental health background checks to purchase a gun blows my mind.
And every time I hear about another shooting be it mass murder or another homicide in Baltimore, I want to scream. I am tired of being told that guns are the answer. I know that my country will never be gun free. That is just not in the cards for the United States. I know that mass shootings will never end. But, I am tired of hearing about Americans dying in gunfire.
This idea never really hit so close to home until on Saturday morning, January 25, 2014, two employees were murdered in Maryland at the Columbia mall by a gunman. This mall is a place that I have spent much of my college life and continue to visit to this day. Since the shooting, I have walked past the now boarded up store where the murder took place. I have seen the signatures of support and mourning written on the boards. I have memorized the names of the two young employees who were killed and, I have wondered, what if these had been my friends?
When I was in England, I was in shopping in Tesco one day and, there was a loud bang, silence, another loud bang like a gunshot, the sound of people gasping, and then complete and utter silence. Everything in the store had stopped. I put down my basket and moved to run to the back of the store. This was it, I remember thinking. Someone has a gun. Someone is trying to kill us. I was shocked when the rest of the people in the aisle moved towards the front of the store to investigate. Were they crazy?
They disappeared up towards the registers, their children in hand, and the overhead speaker announced that a large display had fallen over in the front of the store. But, as life moved around me again, I stared at my basket on the floor, and it hit me that the English weren’t the crazy ones, I was. These people had little concept of gun violence. People don’t shoot their politicians in grocery store parking lots. They don’t wonder if their children will come home from school. They don’t walk past boarded up shops in the mall with white remembrance lilies floating in the fountains.
I am so tired. I am tired of Americans being killed for no reason at all. I am tired of a government that can’t get their act together and do something about it. And mostly, I am just sorry. I am sorry for every person that is affected by gun violence – for every child that is raised to think that going through a metal detector to get school is normal, for every family that is scared to go into Baltimore, for every person who has ever lost a friend to a gun.
I am small in a big world, and writing this really doesn’t change anything but, I wanted to say that the fact that there has not been one gun law passed since Sandy Hook is not okay. It’s not okay with me. I don’t agree. We as Americans have got to work together to do something. We need to put aside our differences and find a way to stop Americans from being gunned down – plain and simple. To some, this may not seem like your responsibility and, it never is our responsibly until it affects us personally.
Columbia was close to home for me, and at the rate we are going, it seems like these horrific events are just going to keep happening unless we do something about them. How many more people is it going to take? How many more children? Women? Men? Teenagers? I would like to raise my children in a world where their first thought to a loud noise in a public place isn’t – am I going to die here? I want a world where they feel safe to approach the front of the store instead of readying themselves to run to the back, where they can go to the movies and be safe. Is that too much to ask?
I am so tired. We are all so tired of this. The same old sad story in different places, different clothes, and different faces. It’s time that we as Americans do something for real. Take a stand. Say something. Anything. It’s never our responsibility until it’s us, our friends, our children, our family, and it’s time that we all wake up and recognize that this problem is not going to go away unless we do something. Anything.