On Gun Violence

There has been plenty of debate around the 2nd amendment in recent months. Considering the rise in mass killings.It can be difficult to fathom the statistics on gun violence in the united states. When we hear that there are over 12,000 gun murders every year; or that 91 Americans are killed with guns every day;these are just facts. Most of us gloss over these numbers like the box scores in sports we don’t watch.  But the truth is, most of us have been touched by these numbers very directly. Consider this:  according to everytownresearch.org, 7 children or teens are killed with guns on an average day! It was that fact that kicked me into consciousness.

Looking down the barrel

I remember when a childhood friend pulled a Glock 26 (more popularly known as a “baby glock”)from his fathers carrying case and pointed it at my chest, playfully… I did not get the joke. In fact, my reaction was to run for my life as fast as I could.  Unfortunately for my friend, his father was in the next room and heard the commotion. After a lightning fast investigation, his fathers punishment?  A pistol-whipping. (appearently the saftey was on.)

I was 18 then, and  my neighborhood in Springfield Massachusetts was virtually gun violence free. Shooting and robberies and drug deals gone bad, that happened on the news. But many years prior,  I Learned just how dangerous guns in the hands of young people really are.

Ryan lived in Belchertown. He and his older brother would spend weekends with their grandmother who lived just 2 houses up the street from our own. Thier grandmother  Mrs. Kitty as we called her, was kind and generous to all the neighborhood kids. Her house was a popular pit stop for cookies and candy during our daily games of football, soccer, freeze tag, dodgeball or frisbee  that were played in the middle of the street, despite the fact that many of us had large backyards to play in. I remember looking out my living room window most Saturdays, anticipating Ryan’s arrival .

My friend Ryan 

Until one day, he never showed up. I wasnt a big deal in my 7-year-old world. My friends and I ended up behind the garage digging to china that day. However, at some point that afternoon, I looked up and saw Mrs. Kitty. it was the first and last time she came into our backyard. It was that first time I looked at her face long enough to know what she looked like. while she spoke, It was all I could see, her face.  In that moment, her soothing voice was gone; her kind hands did not exist. She was only the words she spoke; born from the grief in her heart.

“Steve blew Ryan’s brains out…you’ll never see him again” she said without blinking. Steve, the elder of the two brothers had been playing with their fathers handgun not knowing that it was loaded.  He shot his younger brother in the face, killing Ryan instantly. Mrs. Kitty stood silent for a second, as did we. Then she walked away back in her own world that would never be the same. I never saw her again. I don’t know what happened to the family either. I think of Ryan whenever I hear reports on children being killed by guns.

Gun control, or the lack thereof, has become a highly politicized issue. It’s clear that Americans have embraced the right to bear arms whole-heartedly. The idea that guns make us safe, is a meme that is so readily shared among gun owners and those who sell guns. That fact, mixed with a general climate of fear that is perpetuated by the media, makes the environment fecund for gun violence. The collateral damage?  Women are 5 times more likely to be murdered in a domestic violence situation. People who cant afford to purchase guns are much more likely to be murdered with guns. But the most important bit of information, in my opinion, is that innocent children are killed daily with guns. Children. The little people who have not been ifected with the social memes that drive industries such as this.

I dont intend to make a case for or against the use of legal firearms. On that, you can decide. I do, however, want to raise your consciousness to the fact that people have been making serious investments in the proliferation of small arms.  Last year, the gun industry literaly made enough ammunition to shoot everyone in the world , twice. Shouldnt we be safe by now?


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