Letter To My Representatives, aka Please Plagiarize Me

I can not sit quietly by any longer. Orlando has finally moved me to reach out to my representatives. I give you the letter I’m mailing my reps at both the state and national today. However you feel about the matter, I urge you to write to your congressmen, your representatives and your senators as well. And if you have trouble finding your own words, or just plain like mine, they are my gift to you. Take them and send them out as you will.

Nothing is not helping. Do something.

 

 

Dear [Representative]

This letter is long overdue but in the wake of the shooting at Pulse in Orlando, I can’t sit idly by any longer. My heart is broken, as should all ours be. It is our inaction that allowed 49 families to lose loved ones. 49 new graves to be dug, 49 obituaries ran side-by-side. Over 100 people shot quickly and efficiently by a single man. How can we look at the mayhem that happened in Florida and only offer platitudes? Prayers? For that matter, how did we allow children, kindergartners, to be mowed down while their teachers threw their own bodies in the way trying to protect them?

Because that’s what we did. It’s what we all did. We ­allowed it to happen. And we continue to allow it to happen. We’ve banned metal items and lighters and liquids on airplanes. We take off our shoes in security lines because one guy, once tried to get something onto a plane that way. We monitor fertilizer and phones and emails and rail against supposedly lax immigration laws.

But here we are, not changing one single thing to stop this problem, this uniquely American problem, from occurring on a nearly daily basis. We say it’s the second amendment. We say it’s everybody’s right to be armed to the teeth and if a few lives are lost, so be it.

Maybe if people had more guns. Maybe if every person had a gun in their pocket we could stop these guys.

Or maybe, just maybe, that reasoning leads to an uptick in road rage shootings. An increase in family, most commonly women and children, murdered in a heated moment. Maybe applying more of the thing that is killing us will only lead to more of us dying.

I am so terrified. I’m 30, graduated high school in 2004. Since Columbine I’ve had night terrors that send me sprinting down hallways in the dark to escape a shooter. I’ve cowered behind furniture in my sleep, sobbing, hoping the gunman in my dream didn’t find me. This is what I grew up with and now, as a parent, I have to let my son grow up with. Malls, athletic events with thousands of people, parades, schools—these shouldn’t be places where I feel inclined to know where I’d go if an active shooter showed up.  I should be able to celebrate my child being old enough to attend a school without that fear at the back of my mind that a shooter will show up. There should be no part of me that takes comfort in the fact that the kindergarten he’ll attend has a door that stays locked to the outside at all times.

It stays locked because we haven’t changed. We haven’t taken a single step to protect anybody. If anything, we’ve throttled laws and enforcers until we rendered them useless and impotent.

I am a gun owner myself. I come from ranching people in Montana and they absolutely use firearms. My husband’s grandfather was a gunsmith. I want to be very clear about the fact that I don’t think firearms are necessarily evil. I don’t believe there needs to be wholesale eradication of people’s personal arms. I have beautiful guns. I have guns that I delight in shooting. I’ve had many wonderful afternoons with friends at indoor and outdoor ranges throughout the Northstate target shooting. I know how to unload a firearm, how to lock one up properly, and that knowledge makes me feel more secure.

That said, I would melt down every last gun in my house if I stood even a slight chance at saving a life by doing it.

Why? Because it is long past time when we should look at what we can each do to stop as much of this violence as we can. Prayers aren’t fixing anything. They’re empty, merely something we can say we should do in the wake after every single shooting.

Pray for Orlando.

Pray for Sandy Hook.

Pray for Newtown.

Pray for Columbine.

People have been praying for an end to this for so long, scientific consensus would have ruled it useless long ago.

There is no easy answer here and I understand that. And there’s so very much push back against any regulations on guns. Enough is enough, though. If a mass shooting hasn’t touched your family yet, it’s starting to be only a matter of time before it does. I know people who have survived them. Shooters in offices. In malls. It’s almost as if I can hear the clock ticking away until it’s not just a friend’s story but it’s my family’s story. Until it’s my story. Until I’m the person people know who can talk first-hand about an active shooter incident.

The time came long ago for common-sense, practical laws on firearms. We can do this in a way that makes sense, that makes it possible for people to still have guns while keeping them out of more hands that maybe shouldn’t have them.

A gun should never be an impulse buy. We need waiting periods and better background checks.

Assault rifles are practical for neither hunting nor home defense and nobody’s “right” to own them is worth a single dead 6-year-old. Maybe we shouldn’t vilify a gun, but it’s hard not to when the AR-15 makes it so damn easy. That amount of firepower is only making it easier for people with black hearts seeping hate like pus to kill as many people as fast as possible. It’s not saving lives, it is only taking them. Get rid of it.

Why are we blocking research on gun violence? How does that even make sense? People are dying, children are being shot in their schools yet any effort to even study this phenomenon is prevented from happening. How? How can we do that? It’s spitting on every single grave of a victim of gun violence. To cure something we must understand it, but instead of understanding people are clutching their guns to their chests and yelling, “But there will always be bad people!” True, but maybe we could keep the guns away from the bad people if we can identify them better?

Our technology is good enough that we have smart guns. Guns with linked devices that ensure only the right person is able to fire it. Yet gun culture is so out of hand, whipped into a frenzy by groups like the NRA, that people threaten the lives of shop owners who dare to carry them. We have the ability to apply our amazing leaps in tech to weapons, yet we don’t. We can’t even talk about it without people losing their minds. This is not the environment we should have around chunks of metal that launch bullets at hundreds of miles an hour, commonly through people. We need to work to improve level-minded discussion and discourse around weapons.

It blows me away that we can’t talk about this. That it has to be an all-or-nothing fight.

It blows me away that gun owners can look at the 49 dead in Orlando, the 20 children that died at Sandy Hook, the 9 dead in Charleston, the 12 that died in Aurora, and all the hundreds of other deaths, and claim that nothing needs to change. Claim that we need more mental health. Claim that it’s radical Islam at fault. Claim that it’s a bad parent.

Yet the only common denominator is access to guns.

And there’s probably other connecting factors, but how would we know? It’s not like anybody was allowed to track and study the incidents.

If we don’t change, there are just going to be more. Yes, there will always be bad people, violent people, murderers. But maybe we can figure out how to keep a known abuser from mowing down 49 people gathered to dance and love. Maybe, if we work together, someday school doors don’t have to be preemptively locked against the gunman just as likely to show up there as anywhere else.

As humans, we have a responsibility to do as right by our fellow man as we can. We owe the people in the world our utmost care and caution, so that everybody may live as best of lives as they can. That care right now is needs to go towards stopping these massacres.

If you fail to do your part in putting a stop to these shootings, you are as good as condoning them. You are allowing people who would do entire groups of people harm the access and ability to do just that.

You are the person with the power to change this country, this world, for the better. Help the people you represent to feel safe in their schools, in their parks, in their places of worship and commerce.

I’ve used my voice. It’s past time for you to use yours.

Sincerely,

Kristin

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