I’d heard about it, I’d read about it, and last week it happened to me: I was in mortal and immediate fear for the life of my child.
It was shortly before 3 p.m., and I was driving to Pullman High School to pick up my daughter. Suddenly, an angry police car, with lights and siren blazing, was right behind me.
Thinking I was being pulled over, I eased over to the curb. The police car shot past at high speed. Just as I began merging back into traffic, another police car thundered by with lights and siren going.
Maybe it’s a sign of the times, but my first thought was that a mass shooting was under way at the high school. It’s a reasonable assumption because, as in most communities, the local high school is a-swarm with vibrant, young people at the end of the school day.
C’mon, admit it: School shootings are staple fare in America these days, just like county fairs and Fourth of July parades.
I followed the two cop cars with my eyes, then heaved a sigh of relief when they kept going past the turn to the high school.
Flushed with an ugly jolt of terror, my apprehension turned to anger.
Given all the gun violence this country has already suffered, why is it still legal for twisted sociopaths – or virtually anyone else – to buy high-powered, high-capacity, semi-automatic weapons?
Why are those rights so zealously protected by Congress, while my child’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness counts for next to nothing?
When executives from the National Rifle Association testify on Capitol Hill, they are treated like visiting heads of state. But when the parents of shooting victims speak to Congress, nobody even listens anymore.
Why? Because the NRA represents business, money, and economic power. For centuries, the arms industry has been making a narrow segment of society very wealthy.
Bereaved parents, on the other hand, are just a downer. They don’t contribute much money to reelection campaigns so, in the calculus of Capitol Hill, they aren’t worth as much as well-heeled gun lobbyists.
So tough luck if your kid gets shot. Take a number. File a complaint.
I grew up in a shooting family and have owned guns all my life, but I am fed up with politicians – usually Republicans – who fight like wildcats for the wrong people to have access to the wrong guns. Where does it end? Sawed-off shotguns for the criminally insane? Handguns for toddlers?
Now here’s a patriotic suggestion: Let’s pay attention to the entire Second Amendment, which reads, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the Security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Remember that guy who killed 58 people and wounded more than 400 others at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas? Was he part of a well-regulated militia?
Or that guy who killed 20 little kids at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut? Was he part of a well-regulated militia?
Nope, and nope.
Keep in mind that America already has a well-regulated militia. It’s called the National Guard. That’s where assault rifles and cop-killer ammunition belong.
If we’re genuinely interested in homeland security, then let’s stop selling high-powered, high-capacity weapons to John and Jane Doe. And let’s stop selling pistols like they are candy canes.
It all starts with admitting that we, as a nation, have a gun problem. Just like alcoholism, the road to recovery begins with recognition of the problem.
Let’s agree that America has an enormous number of guns in private hands. Then let’s plan – legally and equitably – to decrease that number. Finally, let’s elect Congresspeople who will actually accomplish this goal.
It may seem impossible, but it’s never too late to start heading in the right direction.
If not for ourselves, then for our kids.
William Brock lives in Pullman.