Moving Beyond Thoughts and Prayers

My posts usually have many versions before I decide on the final draft.  This post’s rewrites outnumber all the others by far.  I don’t known where to start.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to put my thoughts and feelings out there.  I spent a lot of time staring at the computer screen.  But, I wanted to get something out because since the Parkland shooting a little over a week ago I am still reeling. Thinking about the victims, their families, the survivors, and the problem with gun control in America.

I’m angry, sad, scared, overwhelmed, worried, frustrated, powerless and other emotions I can’t name.  The lack of control over the safety of my family is terrifying.  How do we make sense of these awful tragedies?  How do we move on?

I decided I needed to learn more.  The past week I have been researching gun control, gun safety, and gun violence.  The internet is not comforting, just in case you ever thought it might be.  Compared to other countries of the same socioeconomic status America’s gun violence rate is by far the highest.  Reading the statistics and studies, I was left even more distraught.  Why don’t we have similar laws to protect our citizens when the numbers are backing up the results?

I did find some comfort in the fact that Massachusetts, (where my family and I live) gun laws are tougher than most other states and has the lowest gun death rate compared to the rest of the country.  In 2015, Mass had a gun death rate of 3.13 per 100,000 residents (this number, to my understanding includes homicides and suicides).  The state with the second lowest rate, Hawaii, at 3.84 deaths per 100,000.*  More can be done on gun safety to lower those rates further.  Canada’s gun murder rate is 0.5 per 100,000.**

There is the argument that if someone wants to obtain a gun, they will find the means to do so.  But why does it easy have to be so easy? We don’t have to eliminate the second amendment, but continuing to allow people who have shown abusive behavior, suffer from mental illness, or have criminal backgrounds is not reducing the gun violence rate.

There are many facts slanting towards either side of the argument.  If you want to know more do your research and get involved.  Write to your local and state representatives, join and volunteer for groups that support gun safety (such as Everytown, Moms Demand Action, or Sandy Hook Promise), and most importantly, have open and honest conversations with your children about kindness/bullying, self confidence, and yes, gun safety.

I don’t want to feel powerless any longer.  I joined Moms Demand Action and a local community group promoting kindness.  I will research my elected representatives and vote with those who align with my stance.  If my children go to friend’s homes, I will ask the parents if they own a gun and how it is kept safe.  I will talk to my own children about guns even though we don’t own one and have constant conversations about kindness.  I’m also going to do my best and work to advocate for change.

*Boston Globe: Mass. has lowest US rate of gun deaths
**Everytown: Gun Violence By the Numbers

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