I was five years old when I first heard gunshots. My mom and I cowered behind the catering display in the meat department at our local Costco. Two gunmen at the front of the store had just opened fire.
I didn't know what was going on at the time, but I remember my mother pulling me down to the ground frantically, her knuckles white with fear. A single door at the back of the store opened into the parking lot, and we began to all file through it in an eager and desperate attempt to evacuate. My father witnessed the commotion as a Breaking News headline from home, and was sick with relief when we walked through the front door.
My family had just immigrated to the U.S. two years prior, and the amount of violence in their new home was not exactly their idea of a welcome committee. Shortly after this experience, my father took a job as a cab driver, where he was robbed at gunpoint.
Despite these experiences, the U.S. is my home and I love my home. I feel like an American, through and through. But, whenever I am privy to senseless gun violence - particularly against defenseless children - I am ashamed. I am ashamed of the callous, detached attitudes of Conservatives and gun advocates. I am ashamed of the irrelevant and illogical arguments they spin to make their point. Including, but not limited to:
Mentally unstable people & criminals will always find a way to obtain firearms.
Finding is different than practically placing the firearm in their hands. In many states, people do not need to find anything. They can purchase guns online, from gun shows, or through private sellers with no background checks. Additionally, a properly legislated background check would call for a complete psychiatric evaluation - at the aspiring gun owner's expense.
Not all mass killings are caused by guns.
Yes, and not all lung cancer is caused by smoking cigarettes. That doesn't mean they're good for you.
What about the Second Amendment?
What about it? The Second Amendment was written when Revolutionary-era muskets were the weapon of choice. They fired three rounds per minute, took longer to reload, and had a maximum accurate range of 50 meters. This is compared to your modern-day AR-15 (of which there are a startling 5 million in circulation - that are accounted for), which fires 45 rounds per minute at a maximum accurate range of 550 meters.
But, yeah, the Second Amendment is totally viable here. While we're at it, what other 18th century practices would you like to restore?
What about self-defense? Responsible gun owners should not have to give up their guns.
As former president Barack Obama has emphasized on numerous occasions: Nobody is looking to take guns away from responsible gun owners. Responsible gun owners that have undergone an extensive screening process to obtain a regulation handgun or pistol are not the problem. The problem is the complete lack of a screening process, and access to military-grade weapons.
I would argue, however, that the firearm fetish that plagues America is less about self-defense concerns and more about a preoccupation with outdated machismo. The GOP is a bubbling cauldron of rampant testosterone and patriarchal sentiments. There is no other reason for such a large portion of America's white male populous to be so obsessed with abolishing abortion and rallying for firearms. Controlling women and bearing arms are the two archaic trademarks of masculinity (emphasis on the archaic).
Our obsession with guns is perpetuating fear, fear that ripples across demographic groups. Children are afraid to go to school, teachers are worried about how they'll defend their students. These are concerns that should not even exist. And why do I care? Because in 10 years, if I have a daughter, I don't want to imagine shielding her from bullets in the supermarket - or fear sending her to school every day.
Because the U.S. is my home, that is why I feel compelled to make a change, and ensure that these concerns don't cross my mind -- or anybody else's.