This whole debate is a big pile of mental spaghetti. I’ve been itching to write about it but haven’t been able to quite find the words – or the strength – or maybe the nerve?
Three hundred and sixteen (316) people have died in school shootings since 1990. There were 54 in the 90s, 106 in the 00s, 156 in the 10s so far [at this rate we can expect 20 more in the next 2 years]. If that trend we’re seeing decade by decade isn’t terrifying to you then you should stop reading because there’s no hope for you.
If you’re still reading, congratulations. You’re a real human with a heart and feelings, capable of empathy and compassion.
As I’ve been trying to untangle this in my brain [one more time] here’s what I’m seeing.
Those beautiful amazing sweet wonderful strong young adults. If we had been as strong as them after Columbine we could have fixed this then and prevented the deaths of hundreds of children. If they’ve done nothing, as Brittany Packnett said on Pod Save The People, they’ve exposed our great shame and failure as adults. We’ve failed our kids by becoming resigned that nothing will ever change. Another shooting, another shrug of the shoulders. Another, “what can we do?” Well, right now, we can get out the way. Once again [think: civil rights movement, Vietnam War protests] the young people of America are offering to save us from ourselves. We should support them. Stand with them. Cheer them on. We may not understand their tactics or agree with their strategies, but that’s probably not because we know better than them – it’s probably because this is no country for old men. America isn’t the same country it was when you were in your early-twenties [Obviously if you’re a young person I’m not coming at you here]. Our country is completely new and different and needs new and different kinds of leaders.
[I promised myself I’d get through this without swearing] Vile, deplorable, disgusting, deranged. Those are the words I have for the NRA – and I’m just talking about La Pierre and Loesch here really. Let’s start by establishing a known known: the NRA is a lobby group for gun manufacturers. They like to posture like they support individual gun owners and their rights, but that’s just sheeps’ clothing. Like any lobby group, they want everything. They want every kind of gun and bullet and accessory to be 100% legal and accessible to 100% of consumers. They pay a lot of money to craft message to get them there. Part of that, and this is Dirty Messaging 101, involves creating a fog. If the AR-15 is making your clients [and you] filthy rich, then you protect it by distraction. They’re making it about mental health by using a lot of desperate and emotionally charged language. They talk about not wanting “nutjobs” and “crazy people” getting guns, very careful to carve out only the tiniest slice of consumers. Their members and supporters hear this and think, “I’m not a nutjob. I don’t want nutjobs getting guns either. They’re right. It’s not about the guns. It’s about mental health.” Then they repeat it to their friends and on Twitter and on morning shows that The Cheetoh watches.
Another known-known – and your talking point to memorize and repeat to everyone everywhere:
Less than 4% of all violent crimes have anything to do with mental health. The emotional problems that these shooters have aren’t diagnosable mental health conditions. We stop the shootings by getting the guns. Period.
Don’t let them change the subject.
Your marching orders:
- Get out of the way of young people. Support them and love them unconditionally.
- Memorize and repeat the above quote until it sticks and the conversation becomes about guns and bullets and regulating them.
- DO MORE…
There are still more things you can do right in your city.
Lobby your city council to ban weapons in public places: city hall, parks, schools. No matter what anybody says THE DATA supports the fact that fewer guns mean fewer dead children. Ask the city council to BE BOLD: ban the sale of the AR-15 within city limits. Ban assault weapons across the board. Maybe it’s a symbolic gesture, but so were sit-ins and die-ins and pink hats but those things move us, inspire us, and can spark the change we seek. I’d rather my city do something than yet again shrug and say, “What can we do?”
We can do everything. We can change the gun laws in our country. Change moves up, and if we want Congress to move, we have to show them the way.