Last Friday, I posted a status on Facebook simply stating that I was angry and that it is time to stand up to the gun lobby. (And I kind of called semi-automatic owners psychopaths, but that's beside the point.) This snowballed into a week of debate about gun control between me and people from all over my life. Relatives, my ex sister-in-law, random high school classmates. (Isn't Facebook great - it's like one big small town!) My arguments became more and more passionate and I started doing research to become more and more knowledgeable about the topic. (I will admit to some tap dancing at first.) I have learned how to condense the argument down, remain on point, and put opponents into a corner. (And how to not call anyone a psychopath.)
These debates have been so illuminating. A week later, I have yet to have one person give me one good reason why people need assault weapons. They usually don't respond to the direct request, change the subject, or give one of two bad reasons: 1) I don't want the government to have too much power. (To which I have 2 words: Hellfire Missile) 2) I like them and I can have them and shut up.
What was awesome - I started to get messages from people thanking me for taking on the debate! They said they were afraid to jump in because they didn't want to offend people or seem "political". I got one email from a good friend in college that made me realize that what I was doing in important.
I pasted it below.
This is what I was sent:
I just want to thank you for your comment and each and every one of your well-written and articulated responses. As a mom, I thank you. As a teacher, I thank you. As someone who works with individuals with emotional and behavioral disabilities, I thank you.
But I thank you as someone in a role that I'm not sure you know I am in. I thank you as the daughter of a man who had been diagnosed with two very serious mental disabilities over twenty years ago - paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. He was in and out of prison throughout his adult life and had a rap sheet that included drug manufacturing and gunrunning. On [deleted], 2008, he and his then wife decided they were suicidal, called 911, told them of their plans to shoot themselves and waited for police to arrive. When they did, my father started a five hour standoff with police that eventually involved the swat team, a chopper and an armored tank. He eventually came out with two guns blazing, and the police had no choice but
to return fire. I later learned this is called "suicide by cop." I wish I never had to learn that.
The reason I tell you this is....well....complicated. I do not believe anyone's right to bear arms should trump someone's right to life. And Friday's events are a prime example of how "legal" weapons get into harmful hands, never mind intentions. I'm sure whatever guns my dad had were illegal. But they could've been legally registered and stolen, laundered, whatever. It happens. A lot. And when it does, people suffer. People die. Cops are hurt. Kids are killed. And relatives like me carry the sins of the perpetrators. [People’s] enjoyment of guns...well...those kids at sandy hook pay for it. And Lanza's relatives pay for it. I do, too.
She asked me to share it, minus identifying info, if I wanted. I did so on Facebook and have gotten into a whole new discussion, and I wanted to share it here, too. She is one of those people who doesn't want to be "political", so she stays out of the debate. I DO want to be political, and this experience has sent that feeling off the chart. There are stories like hers and well-considered opinions that never get shared because people want to be "nice". The gun lobby and gun nuts DO NOT speak for the majority of America. Those of us who are not afraid to speak out need to do so. My debates on Facebook have led to debates between others, and people have told me that they have donated to certain causes or looked up factual gun information after reading what I wrote. I want to continue to be an example, a voice for the quiet, and a jumping off point for others.
So....I have a request: help me find somewhere to go, something to do. I have worked on campaigns before, but that was a concrete thing with concrete tasks. I have donated money and written to congress people and senators (and actually, my people are Al Franken, Amy Klobuchar and Betty MCollum, so I don't have to convince them). What else can I do?
Thought? Ideas? All would be greatly appreciated!