We all know what happened in Uvalde, Texas on May 24th.
In response to that abomination a friend posted this Meme on Facebook:
Cain killed Abel with a rock. The Lord didn’t get rid of all the rocks. He blamed Cain, not the rock. We have a sin problem, not a gun problem.
Let’s walk through this fallacy.
Firstly, The Bible does not actually identify how Cain killed his brother. If we are going to cite God, then I think it is worth citing Him (or Her) accurately, and not alter the message to fit our human viewpoints.
8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
10 The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. (Genesis 4:8-10)
The phrase “my brother’s keeper” is understood to mean being responsible for the well-being of others. So let’s look at this from the perspective of the “brother’s keeper.” I am Cain’s friend, or mother, or sibling, and I know Cain has issues — depression, lost his job, broke up, bullied. I see Cain one day and he looks off — angry, detached, violent — and he’s heading for a pile of rocks. I know he could smash someone’s head in or smash his own. Do I let him go get a rock because it’s his right, or do I stop him, so he won’t hurt himself or others? I hope I stop him. That is not to say I intend to pass legislation on confiscating rocks, banning rocks, or outlawing rock purchases.
Subsequently, a while later, when I see him heading for the rock pile again, I notice he’s using the rocks to build something, so I let him grab the rock. The meme is right. It’s not about rocks or guns, it’s about having the ability to intervene so the rocks and guns can’t be used to kill innocent children. It’s about actually being your brother’s keeper.
I am an educator. I have been through Lock Down, Lock Out trainings. I have been shot at with paintballs during an ALICE training. I have barricaded my classroom, used rope to secure a door, hidden in closets, and figured out ways to leave the building in these trainings. I have bought supplies to make my classroom safer with my own money. This is real to me.
I have worked, and still work, with students who have mental health challenges. Years back, I had an elementary school student with the face of an angel. He had the most gorgeous blue eyes, and big dimples. I imagine when he reaches adulthood, he will have the face of a model. But he came from abuse. When he got angry, he would squint down his eyes, and his angelic voice would hiss, “I hate you. I wish you were dead,” and then he would form a gun with his thumb and forefinger and shoot me. He was not kidding.
I had a high school student who was funny, quirky, and loved to watch YouTube videos on how to do skateboard and parkour moves. He loved G.I. Joe and would dress in anything tactical — gloves, pants, coats — you get the picture. He also had an “imaginary” enemy who told him to do bad things. He once choked himself, and in his mind, the hands were not his, they belonged to his “enemy.” To him, this enemy was real. It is surreal to sit across the table from a 6-foot-tall student telling you what his enemy is up to. I can tell you other stories, but the stories are not the point, it is the students behind the stories.
I have read files that would make you lose sleep. Abuse you can’t imagine: drug use during pregnancy, sexual abuse and sexual grooming, physical abuse and neglect. You might wonder why I work with these kids. My answer is, most of them have been thrown away — by their schools, their communities and sometimes their families. They are broken in a way that doesn’t get healed. Maybe someone needs to care. Maybe someone needs to listen to their stories. Maybe someone needs to be present. I don’t kid myself; most of these kids are not going to move on to “normal” lives. Between their moments of rage, psychotic breaks and depression — they are just kids, and they are lovable. That doesn’t mean I would give any one of them a gun — EVER.
I know that guns and gun ownership are not inherently bad. I have eaten, and enjoyed elk, antelope and moose harvested by hunters, and was grateful for the meat.
Many years ago, a Peace Corps friend tasked me with delivering gifts to his identical twin who worked for the ATF since I was going stateside. I met and had dinner with the twin. We discussed guns, and when I asked him if he thought it was a good idea for me (a single woman) to own a gun, he bluntly stated “no one should buy a gun unless they are prepared to kill. That’s what they are for. Don’t disrespect them.”
I have always remembered that. I don’t own a gun. Not because I am against them. I just don’t want to have to make that choice.
This is my point. Gun ownership is a choice, and a right, but it is also a responsibility. Every responsible gun owner knows they need to lock their weapons up, and handle them safely. As we are a gun owning society, we collectively bear the same responsibility. We must do all we can to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of those prone to abusing them so that innocent lives will not be taken, and responsible gun owners will not be tainted.
We must stop imbuing guns with the same value as the lives of our children. Are we really suggesting that we should lovingly carry our guns to bed, lay it on a pillow, surround it with stuffed animals and kiss it on the nose, whispering, “One day, you will grow up to be an assault rifle”?
I am not asking for our legislators to deny appropriate gun use. I am asking that they stop choosing guns over children. That they stop choosing the right to bear arms over the right for a student to not go home in a body bag. That they choose the right to go to school safely over the right for one person to kill others.
This wouldn’t require draconian measures like bans, mass confiscations or registries. The majority of Americans support common-sense regulations like red-flag laws for a reason — they work, and don’t punish responsible ownership. In fact, I would argue that such regulations support it.
The definition of integrity is doing the right thing over doing the easy thing. I wish I could say our legislators will act with integrity, but I am not holding my breath. The blood of the victims of Columbine, Parkland, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, and Uvalde is crying out; perhaps it is time to listen.