I’ve let a few days pass since hundreds of thousands of kids across the country marched for their lives. I’ve let it all sink in. I’ve seen all of the footage, I’ve read a lot of the articles – from both sides, I’ve watched the interviews, I’ve tried to understand the other side of the issue, I’ve read the comments and I’ve even dealt with opposing comments on my personal posts. I’ve been immersed in it for days and I wish I could say I’ve learned anything valuable from taking a few days to react but I haven’t.
If anything, I’ve just become more solidified in my views.
I went into the weekend wanting to show support for the kids and I came out of this weekend completely anti-gun. I do want to see some sort of purpose in the other side of the issue because I’d hate to prove them right but, after this weekend, I want nothing more than to make it next to impossible for anyone to get a gun. For fuck’s sake, I could go get a gun license and buy a gun in a matter of minutes in this country – even though my husband (and everyone who knows me well) would probably argue I shouldn’t even be able to operate a fucking golf cart. Half of the time I can’t even get our blender to work and I get nervous using our Instapot. Does that sound like someone who should own a gun to you? Um, I’m going to go with ‘No’ for 1 billion, Bob.
I want all semi-automatic weapons banned. There’s no purpose for any right-minded civilian to own a weapon of war. I want the brokenhearted children in this country to feel safe in school. I want them to be able to be kids – to study, to look forward to sleep overs, to dread the math test, not an active shooter drill. No child should have needed to spend their Saturday morning marching for their life. How ridiculous does that sound? Our kids. Marching for their lives????
We have failed them. Miserably.
And that’s exactly why so many of them marched on Saturday, me and Matty included.
Here, it was a cold, rainy and windy morning. As we ran around town running errands on our way to the march, I thought about all of the things a three-year old should be doing on a Saturday morning and all of the things I could be doing. But then I’d think about Sandy Hook. The images of the frantic mothers running up the street to Sandy Hook Elementary School screaming and crying flashed in my head. Kindergartners. I thought about the bulletproof backpacks I’d been contemplating buying and how exactly I’d tell the boys to use them if anything ever happened, how could I teach them to use it without scaring the shit out of them? Maybe I could just tell them to get inside of it and stay as still as possible? Would they be able to do that? I thought about what was too much information for a three-year old and how I might approach the topic. I thought about my parents and how they’d probably disapprove of Matty marching or knowing anything, but then I’d look at Matty in the rear view mirror and ruminate on what was at stake – his innocence when it came to guns and his safety versus, very possibly, his life and not getting to watch him grow up. Eventually, I’d come to terms with the fact that this is our kids’ lives – this is the world they’re growing up in and I’d rather my kids be prepared and smart than to keep them in a bubble and risk their survival.
Don’t you ever ask yourself how those parents have found a will to go on? I do, all of the time.
After we had pulled into the parking lot of the march 20 minutes early, I climbed into the back seat of the car and we worked on our posters together.
“So, buddy, I want to talk to you a little bit more about the march.”
“There are going to be a lot of kids and a lot of people here who might be sad, okay?”
“Well I’m going to play with them and then they won’t be sad!”
“Yeah, maybe. But I think there will mostly be bigger kids here.”
“Well, I’m a big kid?”
“Well, why will they be sad?”
“Well, buddy – a bad guy went into a school, far away from here, with a gun and he hurt a lot of kids.”
“Are they okay?”
“But he’s not going to come to my school.”
“No…no. I would never let that happen. But, so, we’re marching against guns basically. You know, bad guys shouldn’t be able to get guns.”
“Well, we don’t like guns. Guns are bad.”
“And bad guys are mean because they kill people.”
“No, not always. Sometimes bad guys are just confused or sad or misunderstood -”
“Yeah. Maybe the bad guys are just sad because they don’t have their friends?”
“Yeah, exactly, but we just don’t want them to have guns.”
“We don’t want bad guns, we only want good guns.”
“What are good guns? You tell me.”
“Water guns are good guns? They don’t hurt anyone. Bad guns hurt people. We don’t want those.”
“You’re right. Water guns are pretty awesome.”
There were numerous highschool and college students who spoke at the rally. One teenager walked through the timeline of shootings that have happened throughout her short lifetime, both local and national tragedies. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized how true the ‘mass shooting generation’ label was. The first mass shooting she remembered was at a local mall, the next was five years later, Sandy Hook. She was in fourth grade at the time. I couldn’t help but wonder what Matty and Abbott’s generations would be and suddenly all of my hopes were in the hands of the mass shooting generation.
After 45 minutes of listening to speeches, Matty was asking to go to the candy store but by that point it had dawned on me that I only have a year and a half before he enters public school. I had a year and a half to help these students initiate real change. A year and a half to do what I can to give Matty the best shot at survival. So we stayed, we listened and we marched.
Some parents aren’t as lucky as me. Some parents send their kids to school every day full of worry and what ifs. Some parents in our low income neighborhoods have lived their whole lives, generations even, like this. Some parents don’t send their kids to school at all – but rather visit their memorials and their grave sites. This, this taking up issue with the second amendment and the ease at which some of our weakest citizens can get a gun, is a task and a job we should have tended to a long time ago – but we didn’t. And now these kids are doing it – not for us – but for themselves and their little brothers and sisters. Before they’re shot dead in their classrooms or in their neighborhoods on their way to, or home from, school.
Our parents, our grandparents, us. We should have done something before we made it our kids’ job. That seems like a running theme these days but it’s not too late for those of us who have the capacity to look beyond our interests, our neighborhoods and our circumstances to do what we can now. It’s not too late to speak up or to stand up. We’re never too old to change our minds or educate ourselves on the things we don’t understand; we’re never too old to effect change. None of the children or individuals who have been killed by gun violence should die in vain and it’s not too late for us to come together and ensure they didn’t.
And so on a windy and cold Saturday, we marched.
And hopefully that’s just the beginning.