B.S.

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There have been other school shootings, other tragic senseless murders. Countless, really. Why is this one any different? I think it’s the students. It’s their pure, raw, real voices. I can’t watch the TV without crying. I can’t stop thinking about 17 young people who are gone, and of their surviving classmates who are left with the choking reality of real terror and the images of their friends screaming, running, hiding, bleeding, dying. The voice of one girl pierced my heart when she said that no one is thinking about what they should wear to prom or what college they will attend anymore.  This was reality in another life.  Now all she has on her mind is the death of her friends.

Previously when watching reports of other sick and senseless school shootings, I’ve identified with parents and grandparents of slain children and it has been powerful and emotional and I’ve been horrified.  This time, however, as I listened to the survivors, I could actually imagine cowering in my own high school classroom listening to rapid gunfire and praying that my life would be spared while wondering which of my friends wouldn’t survive. I feel raw outrage and shame that our country isn’t better than this.

I was in Europe when the news broke about the massacre in Florida. World news coverage makes it clear that this is specifically an American problem. We defend ourselves with the lame excuse of our second amendment right. Besides the NRA and those who profit financially from gun sales, (including politicians), is there any sane person out there that really believes this right guarantees anyone and everyone the right to own any kind of weapon they want, even ones capable of mass killing? We’re not talking about your hunting guns or the gun you bought to protect your home or family. We’re talking about weapons of offense, the kinds used for one purpose only – massive human carnage.  Can anyone explain to me why anyone needs such a weapon?

Shame on us. Shame on my generation.  We’ve allowed that 2nd amendment right to go way too far. It trumps the right to life. Life, liberty and happiness. Life, people! The right to go to school and live. The right to ponder prom dates, football banquets, final exams. And when it is suggested that we solve this problem by adding more weapons to the mix, we must scream foul! We must ask ourselves who benefits financially from that?  More guns? Really? Doesn’t that conjure up images of the old wild west? Is that what we want? Really? Is that what a great America looks like?  Are we not capable of much better than that?

The students of Stoneman Douglas have taken up the challenge of bringing some sense, some good thing out of the loss of their right to experience any semblance of a normal high school life and the right to grow up with 17 of their friends and classmates. Their voices, joined by the youth in every school, in every state of this nation will lead us forward into a better America. They won’t stop until we have real common sense gun laws.

One large political donor has had enough. He pledges never to write another check to a candidate who opposes banning assault weapons. Others will join him. One company cuts ties with the NRA. Other companies follow suit. Still others will follow.

When there is a lack of leadership, the youth will rise up.  When there are seemingly no solutions due to conflicted alliances and allegiances, the youth will rise up. When there are no answers to specific questions but diversions, candid talking points, and spin, the youth will rise up. They will speak with certainty, clarity and simplicity.

BS!’, they cry and thousands join them. Thousands more will follow. They will have the right to vote soon, and they will vote.  They will run for office and they will change things. They can and will do better.  Godspeed!

Granny get your gun

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Maybe it’s just me, but I find it a little disturbing to think of Grandma packing a hand gun.  Can you picture your grandmother with a gun?  I’ve asked many of my friends lately, “Do you own a handgun?”  The overwhelming response has been “yes,” followed by impassioned explanations of self-protection and the fear of an upcoming revocation of the sacred constitutional right to do so.  Is it because I live in the south? the bible belt? a red state?  Trust me when I say that I get it.  I understand the need to bear arms.  Please don’t interpret my sly grin and my nodding head as a sign of disapproval.  It’s more like a sign of disbelief.

I’m a grandma myself and I try to imagine the scenario.  It’s Monday and I can’t find my cell phone, I forgot that I left my flat-iron on and I didn’t write down that the pest control guy was coming at 10.   I am getting out of the shower when I hear a noise, it’s a burglar.  I quickly wrap a towel around me, run to the kitchen, grab a step stool, run to the closet where I keep my gun high on the shelf away from the children, find the box of ammo (in the drawer by my bed-away from the gun-to avoid an accident),  find my reading glasses because I can’t see a thing without them,  load the gun, aim it with a steady arm, fire and shoot the guy standing at the front door while holding up the towel with my chin.  Don’t worry about the poor pest control guy, I missed him by a mile.

My husband took me to a shooting range once.  You had to put on earphones because the sound was unbelievably loud.  My first shot was pretty darn good, but when the instructor kept cautioning me to keep my thumb wrapped around the handle, or I might cut it off when the casing shoots out the back, my aim got worse and worse.  I don’t do too well when I’m scared.  So at least (in my made up scenario), I still have my thumb, though I’m quite deaf and the would-be robber got away.

I joke, when I’m sad and I’m saddened by the times.  I wonder what is real and what is perception driven by fear and manipulation.  Admittedly, I don’t know, but it seems like we’re back to those wild west days pictured in old movies.  And, like a scene from another old movie, my stomach tightens slightly when I think of my gentle, kind, loving, girlfriends with guns in their hands.  I feel like the mother in Christmas Story when Ralphie begs for a BB gun and I think,

Go ahead Granny, get your gun.  “But don’t shoot your eye out.”

Or mine.