A Collegiette's Heartbroken and Honest Response to Gun Ownership in the United States

I write this article today with a broken and outraged heart. After allowing time to pass to mourn the completely despicable and unnecessary loss of life in Orlando, as well as to take time to grieve at the ineptness of our countrymen to keep one another safe, I find that I can stay silent no longer.

I have gone rounds with friends and family the last few days, hearing the same tired argument: “Gun control laws mean they want to take our guns and restrict our Second Amendment Rights!”

My response to this: NO. No, that is not it.

Never once, in the history of this nation, has there been a movement to actually confiscate weaponry. That is not the goal of “gun control.” Citizens have the right to hunt and to keep firearms for their own protection. That’s fair. However, is it really necessary for a civilian to be able to purchase an automatic or semi-automatic weapon that holds more than 10 rounds?

I grew up around guns. Idahoan born and raised, I know gun safety. I know how to use the weapons that were kept safely by my family in their safes and locked cabinets. From a young age, I was taught how to properly store and handle these weapons; they were deadly, and they were to be treated respectfully. Your safety in all things was to be taken seriously; you handle the gun properly so that you don’t injure yourself, and in threatening situations you know how to protect yourself. My parents, uncles, aunts and grandfathers all made sure that, long before I took a hunter’s safety course, I was well equipped with the knowledge I’d need to be around these weapons.

To set things straight: I, myself, was gifted with two beautiful weapons upon completion of my hunter’s safety course. After going on hunting trips with family members all my life, I finally was able to go out myself. For this reason, there are a few truths that must be acknowledged:

1. It should never take you more than three shots to take down the game you are hunting. Even three is a little excessive; that means your aim is off and you need to take things a little more seriously and perhaps not go out again until after you’ve had more target practice.

2. While shooting clays for sport is fun, a gun is NEVER to be considered a toy. It is a dangerous weapon that, if handled inappropriately, can cost you or someone else their life.

3. In situations of self-protection, if you are truly responsible enough to handle a gun, then you do not need more than 10 rounds. There is no need for a semi-automatic or automatic weapon. You shoot to warn or maim; whatever it takes to get your attacker to desist and to keep you and your loved ones safe. And, like with hunting, your aim shouldn’t be bad enough to need all 10 rounds.

My heart aches at the fact that we have to say “yet another” mass shooting. That we, as one of the greatest powers in the modern world, can’t even keep it together enough to protect our own on national soil. That we are so divided and blind politically that we can’t even acknowledge the middle ground on this issue, like so many others.

Columbine. Sandy Hook. The Pulse. These are only three of countless tragedies that need to be acknowledged. At what point do we step back and realize the truth?

Something must be done. NOW.

It is time to set aside bi-partisan bickering. It is time to blur the lines that have been drawn. Action must be taken. While perhaps legislation won’t completely fix the problem, it is better than doing absolutely nothing, continuing to sit on our thumbs and watch as this argument plays out over and over again because nothing is done and the violence continues to escalate.

We, as a People, should be united in one thing: our search for Justice. Yes, this shooter, like so many others, died at the site. That is not the Justice we should be seeking. The Justice we need is a solution. A real, viable solution. “Arm everyone” is not a solution. Not everyone should handle a gun. I know several people who I would feel unsafe around if they were to have a weapon; not because they pose a threat to me, but because I don’t think that they could truly comprehend the responsibility that comes with it.

We need a solution that does more than encourage more violence and fear. We need a solution that doesn’t continue to encourage the mindset that, “had I been there” things would have been different. We need a solution that detracts from the I and promotes the We. We need a solution that protects everyone, not the select few. We need a solution where weapons designed for war are not just available to the public. We need a solution where men, women and children don’t have to live in fear that someone is going to kill them just because they irritated their murderer just by being who they are or by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I, for one, am tired. I am tired of living in fear. I am tired of looking at my phone, listening to the radio, or reading the paper and feeling my heart break over and over and over again because more lives were taken on a whim.

Something must be done.