Enough Isn’t Enough

The thing that makes me feel sad, frustrated, helpless, and full of rage whenever I see memes or statuses that say “enough” is that that I know nothing will change after this mass shooting.  Even though so many are dead and wounded after the mass shooting in Orlando, FL, it still won’t be enough to make Congress, the NRA, and a large portion of gun rights advocates to agree to common sense gun control laws. Quite the contrary, the groups mentioned will double down and cling to their guns with sweaty palms and declare the tropes which lead us back to this place time and again.  Much like someone with narcissistic personality disorder, every one and everything else is the source of the problem. 

It is clear that the lives of others don’t matter. As I said before, if you put your right to have guns before the lives of others, you have some fucked up priorities. Unless something like this actually affects the people in power personally, nothing will change. Their hashtag should be #mylifematters  I plan on writing to my representatives in Congress, and I urge you all do to the same, even though I don’t expect it to make a difference.  At least we can say we tried.  It’s time to stop being complacent. It’s time to stop being “reasonable”.  It’s time to stop being polite. 

America Needs You to Stop

Image via Huffington Post

  There have already been dozens of op-eds, articles, and blog posts about gun control in the wake of yet another mass shooting in Oregon, (and now another in Arizona!  There was another school shooting between when I began this post and now.  What the actual fuck, people?!) but I decided I needed to pile on anyway.  Once upon a time, people changed minds with well-written essays or impassioned speeches.  Anyone who is completely against new gun control regulations will not be a fan of this post.  While I don’t expect to change any hearts and minds, I hope that you will at least listen to what I have to say.

You don’t need a gun.

Correction: unless you’re an on duty police officer or military personnel, living completely off the grid and need to hunt and gather your food, or are training for the Winter Olympics biathlon, you don’t need a gun.  You may want a gun, but you don’t need a gun.  This is not to be mistaken with the idea that you shouldn’t be allowed to have a gun.  But so far, I haven’t heard a single persuasive argument as to why someone needs to have a gun.  For example:

“I like to go hunting.”
Everyone needs a hobby, I guess.  And truth be told, I don’t have a problem with someone hunting and eating what they’ve hunted.  I mean, Bambi is delicious!
“And I need a high powered rifle to hunt with.  It will allow me to get a cleaner shot so it will die quickly and not suffer.”
Nope.  You lost me.  You want a high powered rifle.  Plenty of people were able to hunt just fine before high powered rifles.  Hell, if you want to be an impressive marksman, go back to bow hunting.  And as far as not wanting your kill to suffer, that’s really sweet.  But if you’re so concerned about the welfare of the animal and its suffering, I suggest maybe not hunting.  

“I need to protect myself/my family.”
I really and truly do have sympathy for that idea.  Nothing is scarier than being attacked while defenseless.  Whenever I hear a strange sound in the house, my thumb hovers over the “send” button for 911.  Sometimes I might take a large kitchen knife with me.  In my mind at those times, I think I’m going to be like fucking Jack Ryan or Katniss and defend myself like I know what I’m fucking doing.  Here’s the thing, though.  None of us are Jack Ryan or Katniss Everdeen.  The likelihood of someone successfully defending themselves with gun in a home invasion is low, while the possibility of someone in the home being injured is high.  How often do we read stories about children accidentally killing their sibling or friend because they were messing around with a gun?  What about some asshole kid in Tennessee who murdered an 8 year old little girl the other day because she wouldn’t let him play with her puppy.  How about the girl in Arizona who accidentally killed her shooting instructor, even though she had learned proper gun safety?  The father who killed his own son because he believed him to be a home invader? Then there’s the fact that a gun in the home significantly increases the likelihood of a woman to die because of domestic violence. I will grant that there are a handful of stories where a resident was able to fight off their attacker with a gun, but that isn’t the norm, and it still doesn’t make having a gun in the home a good idea.  People survive parachute accidents.  That doesn’t mean we should all start jumping out of planes without chutes.

“I like to go shooting at the shooting range.”
Blink. Blink.  How liking to go shooting is more important than people’s lives is beyond me, but okay, I’ll play along.  Rent the goddamn things at the range like a club at putt putt.  And yes, I’ve been shooting…with a gun my ex-boyfriend was able to buy on the Internet.

“2nd Amendment rights!  Constitution!  Founding Fathers!  Liberty from a tyrannical government!  Hitler!
Let’s make one thing very clear: if you have always lived in this country, (with some obvious exceptions) you don’t know from tyranny.  And do you honestly think our government is going to come after you?  1) We liberals who aren’t pacifists aren’t usually fans of war anyway.  2) It’s highly doubtful that our military would follow orders from President Obama or a liberal Congress or any other liberal in power to war against its own citizens.  The portion of our military that isn’t Republican and telling our  liberal government to go fuck themselves would likely object to such action.  3) Let’s assume they do come for you, (for… reasons?) I seriously doubt the small arsenal you possess will do much against a tank or five.  But seriously, they’re. not. coming. for. you.  And the whole Hitler reason is bollocks.  And as a wise person once said to me, “If you invoke Hitler in an argument, you automatically lose. Those are the rules.”

The fact of the matter is, if your desire to have a gun is more important than the lives of hundreds upon hundreds of victims, then you’re a bad person.  Full stop.  If you’re arguing against or preventing gun control because you don’t want to make it more difficult for you to get a gun, then you have some seriously fucked up priorities.  Stop using bullshit arguments in order to keep your precious metal penises.  

Stop using Chicago as a reason to not regulate guns.  That’s like saying, Passing laws against driving drunk hasn’t stopped everyone from doing so, so we might as well not do anything.  It’s an excuse, nothing more, and you know it.  One must be true: either banning handguns in other countries has worked to drastically diminish this sort of gun violence or our country has a disproportionate number of the world’s murderous people.  Otherwise, I look forward to ceasing attempts to ban abortion and the decriminalization of  marijuana.

Stop saying that we just need better gun education and safety.  If that were true, there wouldn’t be accidents all the time.  My cousin wouldn’t have accidentally shot himself in the torso and then fought for his life. The fact is, people are stupid.  We just are.  We make mistakes.  We think we’re invicible, (I’m looking at you, 16-22 year olds.)  Then again, sex education has totally eliminated unplanned pregnancy and STIs. Wait…

Stop saying that we need to fix mental health care.  It may be true that mental health plays a part in the reason people go on these shooting rampages, but deflecting to mental health as the only reason is insulting to those of us who live quietly with mental health issues every day.  But thank you for continuing to propagate the stigma of mental illness.  Also, many times, the first indication that someone is seriously mentally disturbed is after people have been murdered.  And even if there are indications, that doesn’t mean they have been adjudicated to be mentally ill and dangerous, as in the case of the perpetrator of the Virginia Tech massacre.  

Stop saying that only good guys with guns stop bad guys with guns.  If that were true, Chris Mintz didn’t get the memo.  Nor did Aleksander Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler, and Spencer Stone, (who, I am happy to say, is recovering from being stabbed last night.)  Not to mention, the late Colonel Bill Badger, who tackled the gunman in Tucson, AZ during Gabby Giffords’ campaign stop.  These heroes, and countless others, subdued these attackers without guns.
Then there are the would-be heroes who create problems, accidents, or get themselves killed.  Armed civilians have yet to stop a mass shooting. 

 Furthermore, escalation by putting guards with guns on school campuses will only open the schools up to accidents, (or “accidents”) and scare the shit out of the teachers and students.  It’s a place of learning, not a war zone.  I sure as fuck don’t want armed guards patrolling my girl’s schools.  And yes, I know about the meme from school shootings past, that suggests we should be like Israel and have guards at schools with semi-automatic weapons.  Well okay, but then I think we should have the car bombs and suicide bombers to go with them, then.

Finally, stop saying, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people,” and that if they don’t have guns, they’ll just use a knife or a baseball bat, etc.  Fuck off; guns kill people.  And as we’ve seen over the past two decades, they cause a lot of damage.  Plus, it’s not like you have some magical plan to make people change.  So we need to make it as hard as possible for anyone to get ahold of such devastating weapons.  Weapons which have the potential to be far more devastating than a knife or baseball bat, and you know  it, so cut it out.  

I’m too weary to write a real conclusion.  It’s beyond me why people are fighting tooth and nail to hold onto this culture of death. Even if you’re just having target practice, they are still deadly weapons.  A friend pointed out that we put people through more paces to get a driver’s license.  Why are we not taking more care with guns?  Fewer deadly weapons leads to fewer deaths.  It’s just common sense.  

I know this post has probably read more like a jumble of words I just threw at the screen. I’m angry. I’m exhausted. I’m incredulous. I’m a little hopeless. I need this to stop. America needs this to stop. 

That time you contact your elected officials about gun violence…      

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Two more people are dead because someone was able to get a gun and shoot them.  As my grief and anger swirled in my stomach and stung my eyes, I decided to exercise the right to contact my state and Congressional legislators, begging them to do something.  The following is the letter I sent to Congresswoman Comstock, Senators Warner and Kaine, Delegate Tim Hugo, and State Senator Chap Petersen.

Dear Representative Comstock,

I am compelled to write to you with regard to today’s tragedy in Roanoke and the gun violence that is tolerated in our country. I am saddened and horrified by what happened to Alison Parker, Adam Ward, and Vicki Gardner this morning. As a graduate of Virginia Tech, I am especially mourning the loss of yet another fellow Hokie because of gun violence. As a mother of two young girls, I am terrified by how easy it is for these acts of violence to take place. As a Virginian who votes, I am outraged and embarrassed by how easy it is for people with bad intentions to obtain guns, and that so little is being done to prevent future tragedies like Roanoke, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and Aurora, Colorado. How can we call our Commonwealth, and indeed our nation, great if we are to continue dismissing an innocent’s right to live in favor of someone’s desire to own a gun? I wish I could say, along with the other emotions I am experiencing today, that shock is one of them. These tragedies have become so commonplace that they are now interwoven with what it means to live in the United States. 

Representative Comstock, I urge you to do what is right for Virginia and our country by introducing and/or supporting legislation which would make it substantially more difficult, or even illegal, to buy certain types of guns, including handguns. My hope is that our Congress will eschew influence from the NRA and not buy into the lie that easy access to guns makes us a safer society. I ask that you continue to serve your constituency and the people of these United States in this way.

I chose the option to receive a response, not entirely expecting to actually receive any; I certainly didn’t anticipate receiving a response the same day.  But within a few hours, I had a response from Representative Comstock, or her office anyway.  It was obvious that it was nothing more than a form letter, meant to talk about how “awesome” she is on Second Amendment issues and that she won’t do a damn thing.

Side note: I found it very interesting that the Democratic Senators had “gun violence” as an option for the subject of my email, while the Republican respresentative had “Second Amendment issues” instead.

As I finished my representative’s response, the only reaction I had is best summed up by this GIF.


GIF via Giphy Thanks to Ellie for finding it for me!

Disrespectful?  Maybe.  But people are dead.  Such a cold-hearted, obviously bullshit politi-speak response isn’t worthy of respect.  (You got that, intern who probably sent the responding email?)

Here is the response I received from Congresswoman Comstock, with my comments in bold, (all emphasis mine.)

Dear Ms. Shore,

Thank you for contacting me about Second Amendment issues.  I appreciate hearing from you and always welcome you to share your comments and concerns with me.
Commence Liz Lemon level of eye-rolling.  Yes, technically it is a Second Amendment issue, (and that was the only option in the predetermined subject list) but I wrote to you because people have died.  People continue to die because of the ease of access to deadly weapons.  But, I’m sorry; you were saying?

I have a record of strengthening both enforcement and mental health provisions of law to protect our citizens from gun violence. As a former senior Justice Department official, I worked closely with law enforcement on the local, state, and federal levels on these matters and others and I will continue to build on those relationships in Congress.
That’s just peachy, so long as whoever is attempting to acquire a gun has been committed or adjudicated incompetent, (Code of Virginia 18.2-308.1:2; federal law 18 U.S.C. 922(d).) As we witnessed in 2007 at Virginia Tech, and countless times thereafter, there are those with significant mental health problems who are not adjudicated to be incompetent and are able to legally purchase guns and ammunition.  Enforcement is fantastic, although I’d rather have prevention.  Enforcement doesn’t bring back your murdered children and loved ones.  It’s doesn’t end the waking nightmares that survivors must relive every day.
The senior Justice Department position to which Rep. Comstock refers is the Director of Public Affairs.  You were the public face of the Justice Department from 2002-2003.  Whoopdie freakin’ doo.  Can we talk about how you were a key player in developing strategy to defend former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, who was a major proponent of gun rights, among other things?  No?  How about taking part in the defense teams for Scooter Libby and personification of a shudder, Tom Delay?  (Which I know has nothing to do with gun violence; I just wanted to put that out there, as she seemed eager to talk about her professional relationships.) 
Rep. Comstock has also received an A rating from the National Rifle Association because of the votes she cast as Virginia General Assembly delegate that weakened Virginia gun laws.  She has also received over $44,000 in contributions from the NRA since her bid for the U.S. Congressional seat she now holds.  

I understand background check systems are important tools to keep firearms out of the hands of violent criminals and the mentally ill. Virginia has been a leader with its mental health database and ensuring its mental health records are included in the national database. As Virginia continues to update its background check system, we see increases in the number of convicted felons and those with mental health conditions being denied from purchasing a firearm.
“When economist Richard Florida took a look at gun deaths and other social indicators, he found that higher populations, more stress, more immigrants, and more mental illness didn’t correlate with more gun deaths. But he did find one telling correlation: States with tighter gun control laws have fewer gun-related deaths.”
I think the mental health database is fantastic, but it’s clear that mental illness and a criminal history is only a small part of the picture.  I don’t want to see an increase in convicted felons; I’d like to see the crimes prevented in the first place.  

Under current law, background checks are required for firearm sales conducted through federally licensed firearms dealers, which are processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). It is important that states share appropriate, lawful information with the federal background check system in order to keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who clearly pose a danger to themselves or others. The NICS Improvement Amendments Act (P.L. 110-180) provided federal resources to encourage states to keep their NICS-related records updated to maximize public safety. Since 2009, this program has received over $63 million.
Instant background checks are like instant coffee: only good in baked goods.  No, wait.  Gross and of little use.  Yes, that’s it.  It’s pretty clear that an instant background check isn’t enough to curb the high number of gun-related deaths in this country.

I share your desire that the NICS database be up-to-date so that background checks can be completed quickly and effectively. I am committed to protecting policies that keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill while preserving the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. I am not a member of the House Judiciary Committee, which has primary jurisdiction over this type of legislation, but should legislation come to the floor on these matters I will be sure to keep your views and concerns in mind.
I don’t recall expressing any desire of the sort.  Did you all read that in my email?  I mean, I’m guess it’s possible I blacked out and expressed a sentiment completely opposite to how I actually feel.  Oh, wait!  Was it Opposite Day, and I forgot about it again?  Hahaha!  That explains why, when I said, “substantially more difficult,” you understood me to say, “Get people their goddamn guns, posthaste!”
I’m pretty sure that the bit about not being on the Judiciary Committee and keeping my views in mind is meant to be read with all the sincerity and gentility of a backstabbing southern belle.

Image via ABC

Thank you again for contacting me. Please keep in touch on issues of concern to you. I may also be contacted at my Sterling office at 703-404-6903, or my Washington, D.C. office at 202-225-5136. By visiting comstock.house.gov, you can sign up to receive my email newsletters and follow my efforts to serve you. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter for real-time updates on my activities in Congress and in the District. If I may ever be of service, please do not hesitate to contact me.
I’ve just written to you and expressed how you could serve me, your constituent, and you gave me the finger in letter form.  Why on earth would I contact you again for anything?  And you can bet that, if you’re not going to do what’s right for the safety and well-being of your constituents and country, I will do everything within my power to make sure that our district elects someone in 2016 who will.

I will update the blog with responses I receive from any other legislators. Rest assured, if I receive similar responses from them, Democrat or Republican, they too shall be marked with the GIF Seal of Disapproval.