an essay by guest blogger Rich Green,
I hate this country. I really do. I don’t understand why we allow everyday citizens, those who are not involved in law enforcement or military, to acquire assault rifles and semi-automatic handguns and why we allow these citizens to amass such a cache of these “mass human killing” weapons in their homes. Nobody needs these types of weapons, and for those who claim that American citizens have the right to bear arms under the Constitution are mindless idiots and they’re just full of shit. The 2nd Amendment states, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Why do gun advocates seem to ignore the other parts of this amendment that clearly state “within a well-regulated militia…?” The purpose of this amendment was to give citizens the right to arm themselves and overthrow a government that did not follow the freedoms in which our Founding Fathers advocated and instituted.
I’m tired of gun violence. This latest tragedy has struck me to the core of my being. I am sickened while trying to imagine the terror that occurred in that school last Friday. It seems to me to be more accepted if someone my age, or those older than me die, because at least we had some kind of life. But, 6 and 7-year-olds? Teachers? What has this country been demoted to? Our government makes it very difficult to protect innocent children.
I spend most of my days thinking of new ideas I can implement in order to better protect children from sexual abuse in classrooms and in society. I was abused in a classroom and I’ve long had a fear of ever entering a classroom again. It’s why college didn’t pan out for me. The classroom has always been, in my mind, a place of evil and horror. Never in a million years did I believe I would start writing letters to lawmakers to protect children from child predators, but to also protect children in 1st and 2nd grade from gun violence in their own classrooms.
Part of this tragedy is determining how we treat mentally ill people. However, if the guns weren’t so easily accessible, perhaps we might only be talking about a disturbed young man who hanged himself in his bedroom. If the mother of a mentally ill child wasn’t so selfish about changing her hobbies to something less dangerous, maybe we’d only be talking about that “one” person who fell through the cracks and harmed himself instead of others.
Such terrible violence. This tragedy is about guns.
Nobody needs an assault rifle with armor-piercing bullets to hunt and kill deer. In fact, if one did opt to use such a high-powered semi-automatic rifle and this kind of ammunition, the deer they shot could not be utilized for food because it’s flesh would’ve been destroyed by such a rifle and this particular ammunition. Why does anyone need armor-piercing rounds to begin with? We don’t live in a war zone. An elementary school and the little scholars who congregate there are not the enemy.
Several months ago, I decided I wanted to get back into target shooting. My partner and I spent an entire Saturday afternoon at a gun range and fired several different semi-automatic handguns, semi-automatic assault rifles, and shotguns. We even signed up for a training course for “Firearm Safety.” When it came time to fill out the application for permits through our local police department, several questions were asked, and one question will always stand out in my mine. The application asked, “Have you been diagnosed with any mental illness?” I wrote, “PTSD and a panic disorder stemming from childhood sexual abuse.” I never sent my application to the police department and I never went to the training course and I never went back to the range to fire anymore guns. My brain is very complex. I sincerely doubt I would ever hurt another person, and I don’t think such an action is possible in my conscience, but when I go into panic mode or a night terror occurs, I have no control over any situation, because I am not myself. I have no history of acting out violently toward anyone. A gun in my home would only complicate my life, and I don’t want to wonder what I’m willing to do in my dark stages of depression, when death seems like a more viable option than life. For someone like me, who has struggled with living in the present because of my past, and had attempted suicide as a young adolescent, I don’t think a gun should be within arm’s reach of my body. Besides, why do I need a gun? I live in a very nice community. I can walk my dog at 3pm or 3am without having to fear any dangerous situation. Target practice as a hobby doesn’t intrigue me enough to put my life or another life in danger.
Semi-automatic handguns and assault rifles should be banned from public access and sale. No family, with a mentally challenged family member, should be allowed to keep such death machines in their homes. The President needs to get the guns! 48,000 people will be killed by gun violence in the next four years. Protecting children and innocent people should not be a debate. Laws should have been in place long ago to protect children from unnecessary harm. We should not be arming teachers to shoot back, but until the guns are off the streets and out of the wrong hands, I can absolutely understand the call for arming and training teachers to shoot back. As we all know, everything in this country comes down to how much money we have to spend, and it looks nearly impossible to place a police officer in every single school in the country, and still this isn’t the answer. The President needs to get the guns.
Today, I am altered. A friend was just telling me, the day before this tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, that after all the shit I have been through in my life that it’s amazing that I can still see the good in people. Today, I am altered. I don’t know what good I keep searching for and if I’ll ever discover how anything good could possible come out of the awful murder of so many innocent children and adults. Every time a child is murdered and every time a child is abused, I lose a little bit of faith in our society. Children should be protected, period. This isn’t and should never be a debatable issue. This country turns a blind eye to an almost daily routine of tragedy, and as Newtown, CT buried two of its children today, NOW is the time for the President to get the guns. We cannot wait until this latest tragedy becomes a distant memory in people’s minds. Six and seven-year-olds were murdered as they sat in their classroom desks. 6 and 7 year-olds, who still believe in Santa Claus and still think cartoon characters are real and some children even look up to them as role models. These children experienced unimaginable horror before they died, and for the ones who didn’t die, their horror will continue for the rest of their lives. The images they saw will be etched into their minds forever. As a childhood sexual abuse victim, I know all too well the fear of being attacked as a child, and I know quite a bit about innocence – destroyed. Just as much as I think about my own personal tragedies and the images that circulate my mind of forcible rape and psychological confusion, I cannot get the images out of my mind of what those little children experienced in the last few moments of their lives. I would’ve gladly traded my life for theirs.
Children are not for sale! My rage extends down the line to people who claim they fight to make a difference, but we see nothing changing. There are those who claim they are protecting children, only to take your money for the purpose of lining their own wallets. In only three days since the mass murder of so many innocent lives, law enforcement has arrested fraudulent people trying to make a payday off of the misery of innocent death. Other arrests were conducted after idiots threatened to do something similar to this tragedy, and some morons tried to hinder law enforcement’s investigation.
I don’t care why people do these things. I believe they are evil, plain and simple. I don’t care about how mentally challenged they are thought to be, if they are a danger to others, they belong locked away. I am enraged that a mother would keep such killing machines in the same home of her mentally challenged son, who by many reports, “does not feel pain and lacks empathy for others.” We need to start demanding that our elected leaders get the guns off the streets and out of the wrong hands. There are enough guns at large to account for every man, woman, and child in this country. I don’t need to add to that statistic, and the President needs to get the guns.
Clearly, a secondary problem in this country is within the mental health community. A few years ago, my therapist and partner thought I may have been in danger of harming myself. They drove me to a hospital and doctors there refused to evaluate me because I did not appear to be an immediate danger to myself or anyone around me. They told my partner to take me home and “keep an eye on me.” I’m 7’1″ tall and my partner can barely stretch himself to 5’9″ tall. Furthermore, I weigh nearly 80-lbs. more than his petite frame. If my depression manifested itself into a rage where I felt threatening to other people around me, I could certainly overpower my mate and nearly any person around me. It’s true I’m a gentle giant, but in a rage of severe depression, while battling so many memories of sexual abuse in my childhood, and as I become more and more anxious, I am anything but gentle. I am much better now than I ever have been, and I can accredit that to the love and support of those around me, who have allowed me to speak honestly about my pain, and have encouraged me to challenge the system and fight for the important causes I believe in. Medications have also been necessary on my road toward healing. I have learned to use my rage in a meaningful way that allows me to write about my feelings and plead for the help from our politicians. Death machines should not be available to me or anyone who has ever experience a small piece of my personal human tragedy and depression.
I’m tired of the change that never comes. I’m tired of the organizations and foundations that spawn into existence after major tragedies for the purpose of raising money to fight for changes in our laws. Children are not for sale! Our battles should be fought on the front lines with our stories, our experiences, and our words. This isn’t a popularity contest and those who only travel the long distances for the spotlight are missing the bigger picture and are only reversing their roles in the eyes of those of us who truly wish to make a difference. If you need the spotlight, go to Hollywood. Dismantling the way in which we think and conduct business every day cannot be the sole purpose of one individual or one organization. All have to be on board. The souls of innocent first and second graders are shouting from the heavens above and we need to make their memories mean something and we need to do better today than we did on the Thursday before these poor innocent children were gunned down in their classrooms.
I have cried more in the last three days than I believe I have in my entire lifetime. It saddens me that I try desperately, with all of my ability, to protect children from sexual predators. I write to State Representatives and Senators asking, pleading, and demanding that laws are changed to protect innocent children from ever having to experience the hell I went through in my childhood. Nobody deserves my life. Now I find myself heartbroken and it has occurred to me that I must send two letters instead of one when I write, because innocent children are not paper targets in a gun range. It isn’t okay for a child to be shot just merely walking to school or sitting out on the stoop in front of his house. Gun violence, like all violence is shredding this country to pieces and I’m not sure I want to live here anymore. I’m not sure I want to live in a society that cannot, and most unfortunately, will not protect its own children. We shouldn’t have to fight for laws that would protect innocent people. These laws should already be on the books, and “weapons of mass destruction” should not be tolerated as a “fun activity” for a new family hobby.
In Great Britain, handguns and assault rifles are banned. In 2011, there were 35 murders in the United Kingdom. On the same day as the Sandy Hook shooting, an attacker in China assaulted children and adults with a knife. None of those victims died. In 2011, 16 people were murdered in the Netherlands. Roughly 12,000 people are murdered just by gun violence in the United States every year. Eleven countries have higher gun violence statistics than the U.S., but most of those 11 countries are plagued with violence stemming from the illegal drug industry and others are murdered because they believe in a different religion than their neighbors.
How does owning a gun demonstrate more freedom? As a non-gun owner, I am actually less likely to die by gun violence. Over 70% of stolen firearms are used in murders, many of which are used to kill the original owner of the gun. Where is my freedom when I could be shot and killed by a gun-thieving criminal, because some people just have to have firearms in their homes? This country is not a dangerous place, I believe, but is becoming more and more dangerous because of the guns that circulate and are all too often available to people who should have no access to such things.
I don’t know what the hell we’re doing here people. I know that what we’ve done in the past isn’t enough. Our voices haven’t even scratched the surface of change, and maybe we’re not being loud enough. We can’t allow this sort of crisis to continue and we certainly cannot, as a nation, survive another mass shooting of more innocent children’s lives. We should be ashamed of ourselves in this country. We should be humiliated that money, greed, power, and popularity is more important that the lives of innocent children.
The President needs to get the guns.
We need to remember and honor so many innocent lives with change so that such similar tragedy never occurs again.
– Charlotte Bacon, 2/22/06, female
– Daniel Barden, 9/25/05, male
– Rachel Davino, 7/17/83, female.
– Olivia Engel, 7/18/06, female
– Josephine Gay, 12/11/05, female
– Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 04/04/06, female
– Dylan Hockley, 3/8/06, male
– Dawn Hochsprung, 06/28/65, female
– Madeleine F. Hsu, 7/10/06, female
– Catherine V. Hubbard, 6/08/06, female
– Chase Kowalski, 10/31/05, male
– Jesse Lewis, 6/30/06, male
– James Mattioli , 3/22/06, male
– Grace McDonnell, 12/04/05, female
– Anne Marie Murphy, 07/25/60, female
– Emilie Parker, 5/12/06, female
– Jack Pinto, 5/06/06, male
– Noah Pozner, 11/20/06, male
– Caroline Previdi, 9/07/06, female
– Jessica Rekos, 5/10/06, female
– Avielle Richman, 10/17/06, female
– Lauren Rousseau, 6/1982, female
– Mary Sherlach, 2/11/56, female
– Victoria Soto, 11/04/85, female
– Benjamin Wheeler, 9/12/06, male
– Allison N. Wyatt, 7/03/06, female
Please remember these names and not the name of the shooter.