When I was asked to use my voice and blog platform this week to address a letter to Congress about solving our gun problems here in America, I'm not gonna lie, there may have been an eye roll. Or two. Or twenty.
Asking Congress to do anything these days, from my humble voting point of view, is senseless. Our representatives in Washington are staging an epic battle of tantrums that put the toddlers we raise to shame. Our President is throwing up his hands and asking for grass roots involvement to solve the problems Congress is too dysfunctional to address, let alone solve. Honestly? I have issues with that, too. If you are a leader, please lead.
I was inclined to decline and told myself my reading audience didn't need another gun post from me, that you, dear reader, would quit me for my continued gun rants.
But that's not right. That is defeatist thinking right there and defeatist thinking gets you nowhere.
Donna taught me to choose hope, and I try really hard to do that each day of my life. Another thing Donna taught me was to be realistic and to practice acceptance in my day-to-day life. I could not prevent my daughter dying of cancer. It was going to happen regardless of my pleas and prayers and wishes. What I could do, and what I tried to do, was live a life with Donna that made her happy and carefree and that surrounded her with love.
Choosing hope, for me, is more than a platitude. It is salvation, direction, the promise of better things yet to come. I choose hope so that I can wake up in the morning and do it all again. I choose hope so that I don't succumb to bitterness or anger. I choose hope for my two surviving children and my husband and my Dad, so that I can still do and be for them as they need me to be.
I choose hope for America where guns are concerned, too. That is why I will keep writing my occasional gun rant, and, I hope, you will keep reading and considering.
And because my hope is tempered with acceptance, I will not address a letter to this Congress, asking them to suddenly come to their senses and start behaving like the elected officials we want and need them to be. I do not have hope for politicians that cower in fear of not being reelected and losing the perks and privileges that go hand in hand with representing their voters. I do not have hope for politicians that stood passively by after a classroom of first graders were killed, sprayed with senseless bullets, they being more concerned with how the NRA would characterize their votes, than with preventing further mass shootings in schools and other public spaces.
I do have hope for the American voter, though, which is why I have pledged to vote for those public servants who want to make a difference and affect positive change where guns are concerned. Now, mind you, this doesn't mean taking away the guns of Americans. Be still, your Second Amendment rights will remain recognized and protected.
What it does mean is that new laws should be put on the books that take a better look at who is sold a gun (extensive mental health and/or criminal records should preclude this right), just how quickly a person can access a gun, and how that gun can be utilized in public spaces. Greater attention also needs to be given to gun manufacturers, who somehow (can you say NRA?) enjoy a freedom from regulations that teddy bear makers and cheese artisans do not
As someone who has written about gun violence, I have heard more than a few arguments in favor of gun rights. A primary one is that criminals will always have guns, and that we law abiding citizens need our own guns as defense. Yes, that is human nature, criminals will continue to break any and all laws, but it is the law abiding gun owners and manufacturers that give me more pause these days, as gun laws vary so incredibly from state to state and many states require not an ounce of training or paperwork to become a legal gun owner.
For better or worse, law abiding gun owners, caught in horrible circumstances, or suffering a momentary lapse in reason and judgment now rely on the false sense of invincibility their guns provide them and behave in shameful, senseless ways. Law abiding gun owners are leaving their loaded firearms in places they shouldn't be, providing unfettered access to toddlers who don't know any better or troubled teens who feel their own sense of false invincibility or extreme persecution from bullies. Law abiding gun owners are now allowed to carry guns in bars, restaurants, and churches in certain states, thanks to the dedicated efforts of the gun lobby.
So while I won’t be drafting a letter to Congress anytime soon about common sense gun laws, I will continue to choose hope that America will find her way out of this ammunition and weapon heavy gun loving place we find ourselves in. Call me pie-in-the-sky, call me stupid, mock my gender and intellect, try to demean me by telling me to bake cookies. Do as you will.
None of that will stop me from believing we have lost our way in America where guns are concerned, and none of that will prevent me from choosing hope that we can find our way back. Hope is a powerful thing, you see.
If you, like me, are interested in learning more about candidates in your area that want to put common sense gun laws on the books, sign the gun voter pledge for information specific to your area by clicking HERE.