Photo by Joy Real on Unsplash

I, too, have had enough.

I’ve had enough of human beings defending their right to own a weapon with far greater vehemence and verbiage than they will expend to defend the rights of school children to attend school without fearing they will be shot and injured or killed.

Since I wrote this essay (Let Us Now Praise Slain Children: America’s ongoing “Anthem for Doomed Youth”), another mass shooting has already taken place:

In Virginia Beach on Friday, May 31, 2019, an employee opened fire in the municipal center, killing twelve people and wounding more. Thus, the body count rises.

I would, for once, like to see someone who is against gun control SAY that they are willing to enable mass shootings wherein schoolchildren or people going about their daily labors are simply extinguished, that they accept that more people will be shot inside their own homes because guns are loaded and not secured (often, children; often, one sibling accidentally shooting another), that they believe that a higher suicide rate is an acceptable price to pay for the largely unrestricted ability to acquire and carry guns.

Because the shooting and, often, death of people IS the price of people’s having guns. It doesn’t take CDC studies to prove that a machine that is engineered solely for the purpose of propelling a projectile with enough force to cause injury or death will sometimes do just that. If police have the guns, they will do the shooting. If military have the guns, they will. If civilians have guns, they will shoot each other. And the CDC’s “inconclusive” studies have as much to do with our federal government’s defunding of such studies regarding the harm done by guns since 1996 than they do with an actual lack of evidence:

CNN: Fewer guns mean fewer killings, and we all know it

NPR: How The NRA Worked To Stifle Gun Violence Research

But really, when we mire the discussion in “proof” of how many deaths and maimings there are, we are already assuming that some number of deaths/injuries is okay, or that the deaths/injuries of some people or certain people or kinds of people are okay.

So, I want people who wish to advocate for fewer restrictions on gun ownership to be straightforward about it: whose life is an acceptable exchange for the freedom to own and carry guns? Specifically, whose and how many?

For example, tacitly, we as a country have said that we were okay with the deaths of 20 six- and seven-year-olds at Sandy Hook Elementary. That, it seems, was an acceptable price then, and we haven’t yet cried ‘uncle,’ even as the bodies have piled up since. Twelve more two days ago (thirteen counting the shooter), five the day before that, and the day before that, eleven on May 27, eighteen on May 26, and on and on, day after day (a running tally).

Personally, I disagree with the stance of our nation. To me, any death is too high a price. I will be accused of being unrealistic and/or idealistic: fine. But that’s what I believe. It IS possible for humans NOT to murder, maim, and terrorize each other. Possible: therefore, that is what we should, as a society, strive to achieve. That, not a compromise with violence, mayhem, and murder, is what we should pour all of our energy and intelligence and strength of will into accomplishing.

We’ve endorsed our pact with the devil of commerce (the manufacturers and peddlers of guns, the lobbyists) in the blood of children and in the blood of adults, most of them extinguished while adhering to what they believed were the terms of their participation in a free and equal society — going to school, going to work. Protecting our right to life — not protecting the “rights” of gun manufacturers to sell their killing machines unimpeded, not protecting the “rights” of pharmaceutical companies to bankrupt sick people, not protecting the “rights” of various industries to spew toxic wastes into our air and water — is what our legislatures at every level ought to be concerned with. And they will only do that if we hold them to it, apparently, much better than we have.

There are many things that we cannot, as a society, protect each other from — personal griefs and losses, accidents, some natural disasters, some diseases. But we can, absolutely, unquestionably reduce gun violence. The “gun” part of that is relatively easy. The underlying violence that permeates American culture will be much, much more difficult to change.

Copyright © 2019 Jennifer Brown. All rights reserved.