Stuff Happens, And It's Time To Do Something About It

Friday, October 09, 2015

I have a hard time watching the news. With one click I am instantly made aware of all of the horrible things that have occurred in the past 24 hours. ​ Turning on the TV sometimes just makes me want to cry. Because after I became pregnant, the world became an immensely scarier place to me. It has the capability to bring harm to this innocent little person who never asked to be brought into this world. Her father and I made the decision for her. And because of that we owe her a better world than the one that is depicted on the news every day.

Last week, on the 274th day of the year, the 264th mass shooting in our country occurred (a mass shooting is defined as involving 4 or more victims). My mind simply can't comprehend how we live in a country so full of opportunity but also so full of despair. This is a serious problem of epidemic proportions and tragically, the people who are suffering the most are our children.

The Center for American Progress recently released a report examining the tragic effects of gun violence on our youth. "On average, 33,000 Americans are killed with guns each year, and the burden of this violence falls disproportionately on young people: 54 percent of people murdered with guns in 2010 were under the age of 30," according to the report. ​

​And here is maybe one of the scariest stats I've read as a mother, "In America, more preschoolers are shot dead each year (82 in 2013) than police officers are in the line of duty (27 in 2013), according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FBI." From Nicholas Kristof's op-ed piece "A New Way to Tackle Gun Deaths" in the New York Times.

The United States is a world leader and yet on gun violence we are so very far behind other countries. According to world crime figures collected by the UNDOC, the United States has an average of 88 guns owned per 100 people. And where there are more guns, shockingly, there are more gun homicides. According to the same data, 60% of all homicides were by firearms in the US, which was double the amount in Canada (32%) and Germany (26.3%), more than six times higher than France (9.6%), and nearly 10 times higher than England and Wales (6.6%).​

​But we know all of this. Because after every violent gun-related tragedy, there are countless calls for action and gun reform. A smattering of news articles and pundit soundbites flood our news feeds - for a few days. And then we go back to our lives and nothing seems to change. Which brings us to the other tragic side of the gun violence issue - our inaction.

We have the power to do something and make our country safer for our children but we aren't doing anything. The truth is that the majority of Americans support tougher gun control measures; however, we also fiercely protect the right to gun ownership - an abstract idea that has become a major stumbling block in the road to reform. Because of that oh so important Second Amendment written at a time when slavery was legal and people ran around with wigs on their heads, not to mention that their guns were nothing like the highly deadly weapons we term "guns" nowadays - our country has been frozen into inaction. And people, our children, are dying.

I am not advocating that we take away law abiding citizen's guns (unless you own one of those crazy military-style assault weapons - why do you need that!?!). I do not want to prohibit people from hunting or protecting their families. I just want some common-sense measures put in place to help keep guns away from the wrong people. We can pass legislation for stricter gun regulations. 

We can:

  • enforce background checks for every single gun purchase
  • close loopholes on internet sales and gun show sales
  • ban military-style assault weapons
  • enforce punishment for people who buy guns for those prohibited from owning guns
  • We can do something to make our kids safer.

As a parent, I hate feeling paralyzed with fear and not able to protect my child. When she goes to school each day, the worry that it could be a dangerous place for her should not be a plausible thought. I may not be able to follow her every second of her life to keep her safe, but I can make my thoughts and feelings known to the people who can do something - our elected officials. And I will keep talking about it and keep asking my representatives to do something until real change is made. It's better than just watching the news or reading article after article about another tragedy involving gun violence.

So with that being said, here ends my rant, for now, and if you want to help create a change in our country regarding gun violence, here are some steps you can take right now:

Ask your representative to take action in Congress. My representative is Luis Gutierrez and I sent him a friendly message on twitter asking him to #DoSomething.

It's easy to stalk find your representatives! Click here and use the search box in the upper right corner to find your representative. Let them know we need to do something about gun violence.

Take the Sandy Hook Promise. A non-profit founded by family members of those lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 and dedicated to providing programs and practices to protect children from gun violence. 

And here are even more resources we can use to do something:

  • The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a non-profit focused on providing comprehensive legal expertise in support of gun violence prevention and the promotion of smart gun laws that save lives.
  • is an online archive of public education campaign materials created to reduce access to guns and prevent violence against youth. 
  • And if you just need to vent to someone, why not let your voice be heard and share your thoughts on gun violence with the President? It couldn't hurt and I have a feeling he'll understand.

 ​"As I said just a few months ago, and I said a few months before that, and I said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough," Obama said. "It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel. And it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America next week or a couple of months from now."

We cannot let this be just another incident that is tragic in its immediate occurrence but then written of as "stuff happens." We need to do something today so that our children can have a safe tomorrow.

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