Monday, June 13, 2016

It's Not Okay

We went to visit our friends in Dallas this weekend and had a great time; that's all I planned to post about today. However, we woke up yesterday morning to news of a shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando. 49 people are dead and 53 people are injured, and it's not okay.

To the LGBT community, it's not okay that you live in fear in America because you are living as you were born to live. This was not only a violent terrorist act against innocent civilians, it was a targeted hate crime, and I'm devastated that people in this country still raise children to hate. I love my LGBT friends and support this community. No one's sexual orientation has any effect on anyone else. It's time to embrace this peaceful community of people that contribute to our society in every way possible. If you encounter homophobia, it's your job to speak out against it.

To America at large, it's not okay that mass shootings have become a regular occurrence. Omar Mateen was investigated by the FBI in 2013 and 2014. He made terrorist comments at work. He was able to legally obtain weapons a week before the shooting. In most mass shootings, weapons are obtained legally. We need stricter mandatory background checks, and we need them now. I'm so tired of all the arguments that Americans are required to "arm up" in case our government turns against us. This is a ploy by the NRA, and they spent 58 million dollars between 2008 to 2014 to keep a firm grip on Congress. Our government isn't going to turn against us, but let's follow this illogical conspiracy theory to its logical conclusion. Okay, so the government decides to turn against its citizens: they have aircraft carriers and a military. Logically, your guns won't help you. Please stop saying it's your responsibility to own a stockpile of guns: you are statistically endangering yourself and your own family more than anyone else. Men, if you own a gun, you are 29% more likely to die in a gun homicide related incident. Ladies, if there is a gun in your home, you are three times more likely to die in a gun homicide incident. If you have children in America, you owe it to yourself to let these statistics sink in: because children here in America are NINE TIMES more likely to die in a gun accident than children in the rest of the developed world, and I don't think that's okay with any of us. Every statistic shows it: the most likely outcome of a gun is that it will lead to the following things (in this order): suicide, criminal homicide, fatal unintentional shooting. We're talking about 259 "justifiable homicides" (but only 11% against strangers) compared to 232,000 guns stolen per year (172,000 stolen during home robberies). For every one chance a gun will be used in justifiable self defense, there are 896 chances that same gun will end up in the hands of a criminal. So, gun owners, if you still want a gun, it's time to be responsible. Use a locked safe that can't be removed from your home, and help vote on legislation that makes owning a gun a privilege for those that prove themselves, just like possessing a license to drive or a passport is a government regulated privilege now. As long as it's easier to get a weapon legally than it is to drive a car legally, we're going to have problems. Also, please stop saying gun control failed in Australia. It didn't. The chances of being murdered in Australia declined by 72% in the twenty years since this country passed stricter gun control laws. 

I live in the south. It's the most violent region of the United States. My husband and I teach at a community college. Last year, I had an unmedicated schizophrenic student announce he was a terrorist during my class. Next year, my state government has decided to let registered gun owners bring their guns to class; we have high school students and a daycare on our campus. I worry for my own safety, and I worry for my students. Sure, maybe that person bringing the gun will have intentions of self defense only, but that doesn't mean the gun won't get into the wrong hands. That doesn't mean my 21 year-old student won't have a bad day coupled with the availability of a loaded weapon and decide to hurt him or herself or someone else because it's an option.

My brother says he worries for me, and it's not okay. I love my country and my state, but I don't feel safe here, and it's not okay.

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