Thank God my brother was working from home when the umpteenth crazy with a gun this year walked into Dean’s usual place of work and shot someone, then killed himself. That was the other day at UCLA. By the time you read this, another gun tragedy (or twenty) will have taken place, guaranteed.
My mom was shaking when she heard the news. So was my brother. So was my friend whose son studies on campus and passes that building every day.
This isn’t the first time my peaceful, loving brother has faced gun violence. A maniac held a shaking gun to his temple many years ago, demanding his wallet and his girlfriend’s purse. No one ever caught the guy.
Nor is this the first time my family has faced unspeakable violence caused by handguns. Before my adopted sister joined our family, she had her own family. While she was lying in bed in a Detroit suburb many years ago, a man calmly walked into her home, shot her mother’s best friend, put a pillow over her mother’s face and shot her—then he shot my sister. Miraculously, the bullet just grazed her head.
She’s part of our family now, so is her husband and incredible daughter. Her birth-brother, not surprisingly, grew up to become a cop. He was still a baby in the home when the shootings took place and was un-touched, at least physically. That tragedy colors almost every part of her life, 35 years later.
And then there’s my other brother who was menaced by an ex-felon who purchased almost an entire gun, piece-by-piece, online. His father bought the last, critical piece and gave it to him, circumventing the flimsy rules supposedly keeping felons away from firearms. The guy also bought thousands of rounds of ammunition, all legally, and boasted around the office that my brother Scott would be one of his first targets. Thankfully people spoke up and he was arrested.
It’s tempting to wring our hands, blame mental illness and say, “There’s nothing we can do about it. If Sandy Hook didn’t change things, nothing will.”
It would be understandable if you felt that way. It’s not your fault. NRA-backed congressmen have made sure no legislation gets passed that might stem the tide of gun violence. These same politicians claim the Constitution allows everyone to carry machine guns, infinite amounts of ammunition and rapid fire handguns. Nope, not even close. Back when the Constitution was written, it took 20 to 30 seconds to load one shot into your gun. Furthermore, the founding fathers also wrote that arms and militias should be “well regulated.”
SO, MEANWHILE … LET’S TALK
Let’s start with our own stories. Then, let’s put everything on the table — all ideas that could help us control gun violence.
How have guns affected your family? If we could all sit in a circle, putting politics aside, here are some other questions I’d raise:
Who needs armor piercing bullets?
What about closing loopholes that allow guns to be purchased at gun shows
Where would it make sense to begin the discussion about online weapons sales?
When can we begin talking about an assault weapons ban?
Why don’t we limit the number of bullets a clip can hold?
How about we limit the number of guns you can own?
We need gun control, but let’s start by talking — actually talking with each other and listening to what our friends, families, co-workers and neighbors have to say.
For too long, we’ve simply refused to talk, blaming the U.S. Congress for refusing to act. We have been in this abusive relationship far too long. But, we can change the pattern.