To be honest, I didn’t really have much of an opinion on gun control before the Sandy Hook tragedy. I grew up in a gun-free home and was raised by parents who were seemingly uninterested in weaponry. However, I currently live in the gun-happy state of Missouri, where most of my acquaintances have gone hunting at least once and can rattle off the characteristics of various assault rifles on the spot. The best man in our wedding was an accomplished deer hunter and airsofting enthusiast. The maintenance man at our apartment complex has a bumper sticker that says “Gods, Guns and Guts: Let’s Keep All Three.” That’s what it’s like here.
Before I got pregnant, I tried to get into the sport of airsofting. If you don’t know, an airsoft gun fires plastic pellets and are very realistic replicas of actual guns. The facility where we played was an indoor maze, where you team up in order to shoot the opposing players. When you’re shot, you return to your home base, press a button, and re-enter the game. Whichever team has the most “kills” over a 15 minute span wins.
My husband has two G36 rifles and a Baretta replica that we used. All three now reside in our outdoor storage closet. I have no desire to play again, but during the brief period in which I did play, I started to understand the sort of chest-puffery that ensues from handling a gun. A piece of me really wanted to prove that, despite my vagina handicap, I could run with the boys, I could be good at this. Turns out, I never was much good at it. I wanted the accolades from the guys more than the expertise at gun handling.
Flash forward two years: I’m the mother of a 1-year-old girl. As of last Friday, 20 children and six adults are dead because of one disturbed young man with a gun. I don’t mean to presume that childfree adults don’t feel remorse over this incident; I mean to say that this massacre has hurt me personally in a way that is far deeper than if I hadn’t been a parent. I get teary-eyed every time I see a flag at half mast. I look at my daughter’s bright smile and crumple at the realization that so many parents are now deprived of their young children’s smiles.
Although there are multiple policy issues on our nation’s tongues, the first thing on my mind after this happened was gun control—specifically the availability of the types of weapons Adam Lanza used on his victims. Before this, I’d been somewhat of the mind that stricter gun laws would just fail society the way prohibition did. I also thought that some people may genuinely need guns for self defense, or even that mass shootings could be prevented at schools if teachers had guns.