On Martin Luther King Day, I joined the One Million Moms 4 Gun Control Movement and marched in support of legislation for gun control.
The shooting at Sandy Hook shook me to my core. That day and the weeks following, I, along with every other mom in this country, put myself in the position of the parents of those children and felt sick–with terror and fear, with rage, with sorrow, with hurt. How had we evolved into a world where this type of tragedy could be a legitimate worry when our babies walked out the door? I didn’t know what to do with all the thoughts and feelings racing through my mind and heart but to share them with my other mommy friends.
We all felt the same way.
One of those amazing friends organized a candle-lit vigil where we prayed and we talked and we asked questions. What was going wrong in our society? Why were these things happening so much more frequently? What needed to be changed? How could we raise and protect our babies in a world like this?
We knew talking about it wasn’t enough, though. We needed to act. Luckily, so so many other moms and families felt exactly the same way.
I had never personally owned a gun, but many of my extended family members and friends were very responsible gun owners. Hunting and going to the shooting range were hobbies that composed a giant part of their lifestyle. Others owned guns that were passed down to them from generations past, heirlooms. Others simply owned a gun for self-protection from an intruder.
How could I advocate against something that they felt was such a right of theirs to have, something that was so meaningful to them, and something with which they had always been so responsible?
Should they be punished for the actions of criminals?
I came to the conclusion that by advocating for gun control, I was in no way stifling their rights or knocking on them for being gun owners. To me, legislating tighter restrictions on gun ownership doesn’t punish responsible owners, if they are in fact already responsible.
I personally have no desire to own a gun and have no hobbies that require possession of one, so, yes, it’s easy for me not to fear what gun-control legislation would look like or eventually turn into. But making this world a safer, more enjoyable place is something I think people on both sides of the fence hope to achieve, and I think new laws will promote that.
In fact, New York’s recent assault weapon and high-capacity magazine ban was put into place by Gov. Cuomo who is, himself, a gun owner. Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly are two high profile gun owners who are also in support of gun-control.
If legislating common-sense measures to promote responsible gun ownership wouldn’t dramatically affect citizens who are already responsible, why are there so many people who have their panties in a wad? I think a lot of the fear many people have of these measures comes from the NRA’s voice on the matter.
Is the NRA truly upset because it genuinely feels our rights are being infringed upon?
Or is it because they’re trying to protect their ability to make a profit? If the new legislation at all decreases the ease with which a gun can be purchased, the NRA loses its profits, and its power is weakened. Although, as of late, the fear of our rights being taken away by our government, in which the NRA has played a huge role, has actually increased gun sales. And the NRA’s enormous lobbying power is exactly what Giffords and Kelly are trying to combat in the 2014 congressional elections.
I’ll save you from reading my stats on crime and comparisons to other developed nations because there will always be data from each frame of thought that “debunks” its opposition’s argument. I will, however, give you my candid thoughts on why I marched in support of gun control on Martin Luther King Day.
In my support of this movement, I’ve been confronted with the idea that, “Kendra, criminals don’t follow laws. Just look at the drug-trafficking that takes place despite and because of laws put into place about the use of illegal drugs.”
To that, I want to quote my friend Natalie, who eloquently articulated an awesome response on my Facebook page. She wrote, “We don’t decide what laws to pass based on whether every single criminal will decide to follow it. If we did, then we would have no laws and no set of guidelines with which to dictate what we, as a nation, view as reasonable.”
I feel from the bottom of my heart that the answer to a more civilized, peaceful and compassionate world is not more guns. I don’t believe that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. It just isn’t.
Opponents to gun control might say that schools are an easy target in shootings because they’re gun-free zones. Even the head of the NRA suggested employing armed guards at every school.
Each of the high schools at which I taught had an armed policeman employed there.
And although there weren’t mass shootings there, I don’t believe either of the policemen could have prevented a gunman from attacking the campus. I don’t believe the massacring of schools has anything to do with their being gun-free zones.
I think it has more to do with the fact that school is typically the place and institution in which these shooters have formed or exacerbated their contempt of themselves and others.
Does the answer to solving this growing problem consist of loving and being compassionate toward our students, and teaching them how to love others and be compassionate? Yes, yes, yes. Does part of the answer lie in cracking down on bullying? Absolutely.
Does the answer partially consist of reforming our mental health system and keeping guns out of the hands of those people? Yes, and gun-control measures can help.
Making an effort to keep guns out of the wrong people’s hands is necessary and is an immediate and controlled way to work toward solving the problem. In my eyes, it’s a way to work toward making the world a safer place for my babies. A way to give them more freedom to live a happy life.
Many who are against gun-control legislation site that the 2nd Amendment was formed so that we would have a way to defend ourselves against and deter a tyrannical government. Some have even gone to the lengths of comparing our president to the likes of Hitler and Stalin, simply because he wants to make it harder for the wrong people to get their hands on guns. It simply baffles me. This is a president who has worked tirelessly to give rights and freedoms to a broader range of people. His stance on gun control suddenly puts him in the same category as Hitler?
Even if tyranny were a threat, I’m sorry, but I think we’d each need a tank, fighter jet, drone, and Ranger training to stand a chance against our military. A stockpiling of assault weapons wouldn’t do the trick, and they shouldn’t have a place in a civilized society. I don’t think any civilized human being–who is not at war–needs to own an assault weapon, even if it’s simply for the sake of collecting and admiring.
Even if aesthetics are the only thing that differentiate these guns from other semi-automatic weapons, they send the wrong message. They send the message that military-style weapons can and should be used outside of war zones.
Our society is one that should be the example of progression and peace.
And because of this belief, I marched.
I marched with Mike and our kids.
I marched with my inspiring friend, Michelle, and her husband, Timon, and their kids.
I marched with other families and a community who feel just as strongly about moving our society toward a more peaceful and compassionate place.
I’ve never considered myself an activist. So following through with this and making my voice count was incredibly empowering. It was an awesome morning. Freezing, cold, adrenaline-pumping, and awesome. We joined the One Million Moms 4 Gun Control movement and marched across the Brooklyn Bridge, holding our signs alongside others, two of my favorites being “Magazines are for reading” and “Protect these (with pictures of children below), not these (with pictures of guns below). Person after person drove by, honking in support of our effort. Then we gathered to rally in front of City Hall.
We left early to spare our tired babies from the freezing morning air, but it’s a day that will forever have a place in my heart and mind.