Dear American Gun Owners,
I’m writing this in light of the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida (February 14, 2018). There are some things I need to say. These are things I’ve wanted to say countless times before but have kept to myself out of fear and hesitation. But I need to say them now. My heart hurts. I’m so angry and sad. These things I need to say aren’t to hate you or to make you or anyone feel bad for owning a gun. This is just to facilitate reflection, a discussion, and hopefully change for the better.
Whether you’re in America, a country with dangerously loose gun laws and heartbreakingly frequent mass shootings, or Australia, where strict gun laws were implemented after one horrible incident with minimal incidents thereafter, it is a fact that guns are weapons that can kill. Whether you own a gun for hunting or self-defence, they are weapons used to, at the very least, maim your target. This is another fact. In all, guns have been and are being used to injure and kill. Another fact.
But “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. Perhaps. But it is an undeniable fact and an indisputable truth that guns make it easier for people to kill people. So why not make it harder for people to kill by making it harder to obtain guns?
In America, more than 30,000 people are killed with guns each year, including suicide (Vox, The Guardian). This is an unforgivably high number. This number reflects the innocent lives lost, victims forever scarred, and places that will never be the same. This number is a summation of loss, grief, fear, and even disability that can never be rid off and will forever haunt not only those involved but quite literally the world. Yet there has not been a single change in laws pertaining to guns. This number continues to rise, fuelled by inaction disguised in thoughts and prayers. It continues to rise by the lack of empathy and measurable work from Congress and Government.
But this number needs to change and it needs to change now. Because I shouldn’t be afraid to go to America out of fear that I might get shot. I shouldn’t constantly be worried about my friends and family who are already America because of how easy it is for anyone to get a gun. I shouldn’t have had to stay up in the middle of the night frantically texting my best friend of eighteen years while he was holding a lecture door shut during the University of California, Los Angeles shooting (June 1, 2016).
And it’s not just me. It’s everyone. It’s all of us. There are people who have gone through so much worse than I have because of guns that they shouldn’t have had to. Nobody should have to live with losing a loved to a crime that could’ve been prevented. Nobody should be killed going to a country music concert, their house of worship, school, club, movie theatre, or anywhere else. Nobody should be terrified to live their life.
You may own a gun for a number of reasons but are they so important that you can’t sacrifice a little bit of your ownership to prevent further deaths? Is your hunting hobby more important to you than the innocent children who were killed in Sandy Hook (December 14, 2012)? They were just where they were supposed to be, they were just learning. Do you feel safer knowing that the very weapon you own is the same as the one used for the Charleston church massacre (June 17, 2015) where all the victims were doing was practicing their faith? Are your guns worth more to you than the lives of the LGBTQ+ community who were celebrating their identity and love in Orlando (June 12, 2016)? How about the country music lovers in Las Vegas (October 2, 2017)? All they were doing was having a good time with a shared love of music. Can you tell those who will never see their loved ones, those who were traumatised by the 18 shootings in America that took place just this year so far and the accumulated total in the years before that you support what irrevocably ruined their lives? Is your false sense of safety worth the fear, anxiety, and loss thousands of gun violence victims and their loved ones are sentenced to for the rest of their lives? Does your title as a gun owner mean more to you than being a human being? Will you choose humanity over weapons?
I am calling for you to care for people more than your guns. I am saying stricter gun laws need to be implemented to make it harder for everyone to own them. I need you to reflect. Because if you think the way things are now is okay, you are arming the next mass shooter. You are handing an irreversible answer to someone suicidal. You are lending a hand to domestic abusers. You are increasing the chances of accidental deaths. You are responsible.
You are responsible and that responsibility needs to be taken seriously. I understand that ultimately it is Congress and the governing body that has the power to implement gun control laws. But it is the people who influence and corner those in charge to act.
Lives are more important than guns. People are more important than bullets. We need actions that reflect these truths. Stricter screenings required by law for anyone looking to own a gun are needed. Louder and actioned support from anyone who owns a gun is needed. People in Congress and governments, who have direct power to make positive measurable changes and aren’t afraid to stand up for human life are needed. These things have been in need for a long time in America and it’s about fucking time they happen.
People are more important than your guns.
A Letter Per Person
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