Listen – I know I’m walking into a political minefield right now. I’m setting up my blog to be hit by a barrage of an angry gun rights supporters; mad at me for talking about anything negative that they love, threatening their right to own a weapon.
The fact is I’m not.
I have my own issues with guns in the United States, but this post isn’t about that.
It’s about gun violence and why it honestly has me terrified to ever move back home, because regardless of where you live or what you do, this is always a chance due to the shear number of guns in the US (more than 300 million guns in all). Even if all gun owners were responsible, there is a chance that it could be stolen, accidental misfire or in the case of self-protection, accidentally shooting another person caught in crossfire or by bad aim.
Firstly, I need to clear up what a gun is. Not the emotional sense, like for a person’s protection, or home security, or even a tool for a job (a Police Officer, for example) – it’s a weapon. Particularly, it’s a weapon that is designed to handicap or kill its intended target. Whether that target is an animal, a person or a beer can. That’s what it is and it’s entire goal. A car, primarily, was designed to get the driver to point A to point B, safely and quickly. If the driver kills a person with it, a car does not become solely a killing machine – it had a purpose beforehand. This is something I needed to express because in the past, I have been told that cars are just as violent and should be included, but we need to remember – Unless you are driving a legitimate Tank to work; your car was never built with the intention to be used in an expression of maiming or murder.
Moving forward – In case you hadn’t realised from most of my posts – I’m from Kansas City, Kansas. Even though I have fond memories of my home – it’s not a very safe place. Ranking nationally, Kansas City, Kansas only ranks safer than 4% of the United States. Even though I lived in a safer neighbourhood, my school district encompassed multiple neighbourhoods – Meaning, even if my day-to-day was calm, I went to school with kids who lost family members due to gun violence. We had multiple “In Memoriam,” for classmates who died when I was in school due to this. Usually, it was just the “Good Kids,” (Honour students, with a glowing life ahead of them), whereas the kids who weren’t considered worthy were acknowledged by their friends and family, but fell into obscurity of being a statistic.
It was depressing and we all knew someone who died before I finished my Senior year.
The schools across the county line had similar deaths – but they were the things you expect – Teens drunk driving or not wearing their seatbelt – giving their schools the opportunity to remind the community that this was on them to stop this. To tell students to “behave” or die. Living in KCK, there was a “behave and you won’t die,” it was simply “You will die, and the world won’t care unless 3 white teachers said they believed in you.”
Everyone wants to believe that if we got rid of the guns in KCK, crime would still be an issue and then, these people would become killed by other methods. We had multiple bomb threats when I was in high school. I remember the first time being utterly horrified, reminded of security footage of the Columbine shooters, and being ushered into an auditorium as we waited.
It wasn’t – it was a gym bag.
This happened 8 times between my sophomore and senior year, with one of the last ones being called in by an older sister of a student who wanted to take her sibling out for the day but couldn’t get permission (Not the best way to do it, but eh).
I became so desensitized, I actually complained when we were outside waiting for the all-clear like this was the biggest waste of my time.
However, when a gun was involved – We all stopped and panicked. Luckily, my high school never had a gun involved. Knives, yes – but never a gun. If a kid was bringing a knife to school, it was to be used against 1 specific person – usually. Not a gun, as we witnessed so many times, at so many different schools. Mass count is the game and a gun is the best way to do it.
It’s not hard to find out the fact that I’m not fan of guns. I’ve never been a fan; even though I married a man who grew up with guns. Brad grew up hunting to eat and for sport shooting clay pigeons, but, has never been a fan of pistols or assault rifles. This is in combination to his feelings against the purpose of them (Hard to get deer meat when you decimate it) and the fact that he has an essential tremor which makes target shooting quite difficult. However, he came from a large gun environment, whereas I came from none, so I had to compromise my feelings, ending with I was fine with him hunting, I just did not want the guns stored in our house – which he agreed.
He had seen what a gun could do to a community at a young age, when he witnessed a woman in a neighbouring apartment complex get shot. He witnessed the fear and dread it created in his neighbourhood. Those facts and experiences impact people substantially and impact how they feel about guns – and they have a right to fear these weapons and supporters of them, as much as those who love them feel like they have the right to own them.
I cannot be the one to say why the US has this issue – it ranges from mental illness issues with lack of care, absent families, toxic masculinity, bullying/abuse and most of all, easy access to guns. Even if a minor cannot purchase a gun, most Americans have access to a gun. Whether that be through a parent owning one in a home, where the kid can access it or someone robs someone who owns a gun (which, is a pretty popular thing since, you know – Guns are expensive, and most homes are broken in by people you know; who know you own guns); you can get one pretty easily, between legal and illegal means. It’s kind of like fast food in the States – It’s accessible to everyone because we have so much of it.
This post, while also being a great view into an expat living abroad and a window to my United Kingdom friends into my home, is also a statement about what happened in Las Vegas on 1st October. Walking away from motive or any of the other situations, one point rings true. This individual had a gun, which he was able to transport without suspicion and kill innocent people at a concert. People enjoying their evening, were gunned down, at a distance, by an individual squatting in a hotel room.
This is a horrifying time for not only those directly impacted, but for all Americans. The fact of the matter is, most of us do not understand gun violence. For those in rural areas or the burbs, guns are an idea of self-protection – Ususally from the big, scary city where they are flooded with images of minorities shooting each other, fuelling their fears of why they need their weapons and distance, to protect themselves. They feel as if they are a good person who can stop the baddies. They have never had classmates die over the weekend at home because someone mistook their house for someone else’s. They never had to hear their parents having a hushed conversation about your neighbour down the street being shot when she got into an argument with her husband. They live in a world where gun violence is sparse, so a gun is a safety net – whereas, I’m from a world where a gun is a violent tool of death.
As terrible as it sounds, I cannot imagine gun laws will change in the States after this incident. We allowed twenty 6 to 7-year-old’s deaths to keep things “business as usual,” why would individuals at a country music concert be any different? But the thing is, that I really hope, is that people are just as bothered as I am. I feel like I cannot go home. I am actually afraid of it. I’m terrified to have to remember to always know where the exits are and to avoid crowded areas in case an incident breaks out – as I was trained in high school in case we had an active shooter. Run, Hide, Fight. Rinse and repeat until you never forget it.
We have to, as a people, say this is not normal and we do not like it.
But apparently, it is normal – or we would have ended this years ago.