Last week as I was preparing for Outside Lands I got a text from my girlfriend that read “Don’t get shot.” We’re the kind of people who deal with tragedy through humor, so I responded “Don’t worry about me, I’m good at scurrying.”
Given that the nation was still rocked by the shootings in El Paso, Gilroy and Dayton, the truth was Kayla probably was a little worried about me attending an event in a big open space with 200,000 other people. I sent her an article that talked about plans for beefed up security at the festival to ease her mind. That said, as I approached the gates of the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival on Friday there was a small part of me that thought, “Could it happen here?” Thankfully it didn’t.
The point of terrorism is to cause terror. It’s meant to create disorder and upend people’s lives so that they live in fear. And in the United States, the biggest perpetrators of terrorism are all of us. By continuing to allow easy access to high powered firearms we are maintaining a state of terror for ourselves, our families, and our neighbors. Parents shouldn’t have to buy their kids bulletproof backpacks because they’re their afraid someone is going to shoot up their school. This shouldn’t be normal, and everyone who shrugs and says “There’s nothing we can do to stop it” or hides behind the incredibly vague and outdated Second Amendment are lying to themselves and to the rest of us.
Now for the record, I’m not anti-gun. But I am very pro gun reform. When Americans looked and saw how dangerous car crashes were they didn’t throw up their hands and say “There’s nothing we can do! There’s just too many cars out there!” They developed seatbelts, airbags, anti-lock brakes, and severe DUI penalties. Sure there were people who were like “The government shouldn’t tell me what to do with my car!” But looking back, we can all agree those people were idiots. And if you’re someone who does not believe in gun reform, then you just might be one too.
Anyone who says “There’s too many guns out there! There’s nothing we can do!” is simply wrong. In 1981 John Hinckley Jr. attempted to kill Ronald Reagan and ended up shooting and wounding James Brady instead. This eventually led to the Brady Bill, named after the then, White House Press Secretary,which mandated background checks and a five-day waiting period for firearm sales. Given the ridiculousness of our system the bill took 13 years to pass.
Now imagine if Reagan had actually taken a stand and enacted serious gun reform right then in 1981. What if he worked with Congress and made it so that, to get a firearm you had to pass a battery of tests including proficiency, mental health, accuracy, and more? And imagine if they had limited the kinds of guns that could be manufactured and sold in the US. 1981 was nearly 40 years ago. There would be tens of millions fewer guns in homes than there are now. And these shootings wouldn’t be happening nearly every day in our country.
We have to start somewhere and we have to start now.
As for the people who want to hold onto their guns to protect them from the government, why don’t I ever hear you say anything when a police officer shoots an unarmed person in our country? This is literally the thing that you’re willing to put all our lives on the line for, and I never hear an outcry from gun advocates when this happens.
On top of that, if the government wants to get you, your guns aren’t gonna stop them. Remember the Dallas shooter in 2016? The authorities killed him with a robot, it didn’t matter how well armed he was. And in 1985 they dropped a bomb on a neighborhood in Philly and destroyed 65 houses. They did this to kill black liberation activists from MOVE. And that was way before they had drones.
Our guns aren’t protecting us from the government and they aren’t protecting us from each other. The idea that “the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” has been totally debunked. An FBI study found that from 2000-2013, in 160 active shooting incidents, only one was stopped by someone with a firearms permit – 21 were stopped by unarmed citizens though. Also, a 2017 Stanford study found that states that expanded concealed carry permits saw a 13 to 15 percent rise in violent crimes.
So if you’re tired of hearing about mass shootings and your sick of worrying if you or your loved ones will get caught in one, it’s time to get involved. Support candidates who are for control and gun reform. Donate to and volunteer with organizations like Everytown and Moms Demand Action. Sell your guns at buy back programs. And more than anything: Boycott anything or anyone who works with the NRA.
Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com and join his mailing list at http://bit.ly/BrokeAssList. He is a guest columnist and his point of view is not necessarily that of The Examiner.