Gun Violence in America: If we don’t give up, and don’t give in, we may just be okay

When they were young

Today I cried. The tears have eluded me all week, pressing on my chest, lingering in my throat, and craving expression and release.

I was boarding a plane for Portland when I saw the early reports of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting last week. In my holiday cocoon I avoided the news, and for a time kept the real world at bay.

Back home the cold, brutal and devastating reality of yet another mass shooting settled in my core. I have nothing new or original to say and no words of wisdom to solve the ridiculous and intractable stale mate of guns in America.

My queen-for-a-day, pie-in-the-sky solution would be to gather every last gun on the planet and melt them to a pulp. We all know that will never happen. Members of our powerful gun lobby make a mint manufacturing instruments of death while hiding behind the second amendment right to bear arms.

With both of my boys away from home this week, I felt their absence keenly. When they were small I worried about them falling out of a tree or dashing in front of a car. My common sense parenting kept those little boys safe. Now they’re young men living in a world where school shootings have become a reality.

My friend Claire’s daughter, Chelsea, survived a school shooting in her small town of Bailey Colorado. I’ll never forgot the phone call, or the many conversations that followed over the years. A lone gunman killed Chelsea’s friend Emily Keyes at Platte Canyon High School in 2006. When Claire came to town, I would ask how they were coping. It was hard to image that kind of trauma.

This week The Denver Post published Chelsea’s guest commentary entitled: Welcome to the gun violence club – you’re not alone.

I’m moved by her words, proud to know her and at the same time deeply saddened by the burden she’ll carry throughout her life. Note: If you click on Chelsea’s editorial (and I hope you will) please refrain from reading the appalling comments that follow.

Chelsea Warren, along with Stoneman Douglas High School student and survivor Emma González, give me reason to hope. These young people are the way forward.

From the Mike and the Mechanics song: “if you don’t give up, and don’t give in, you may just be okay.

So we open up a quarrel
Between the present and the past
We only sacrifice the future
It’s the bitterness that lasts
So don’t yield to the fortunes
You sometimes see as fate
It may have a new perspective
On a different day
And if you don’t give up, and don’t give in
You may just be okay
So say it loud, say it clear (oh say it clear)
You can listen as well as you hear
Because it’s too late, it’s too late (it’s too late) when we die (oh when we die)
To admit we don’t see eye to eye
Mike and the Mechanics, 1990

48 thoughts on “Gun Violence in America: If we don’t give up, and don’t give in, we may just be okay

    • Claire, you were so good at honoring what Chelsea needed at the time. I felt helpless to do anything but listen and ask questions. Both of your girls are now fine young women. This latest shooting truly feels like a sea change. I hope I’m right. Xo

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  1. Words written from the heart. I read the piece by Chelsea and also the comments under. It’s really difficult to understand the fascination with guns, and speaking from a country far from you, who perhaps doesn’t have the right to an opinion, (but I seem to be having one anyway) I think the person who said it’s about more than gun ownership and also about culture is correct. Whatever the reasons, I applaud your views and watch with admiration the young people who are gathering together to have their voices heard.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jane, all opinions are welcome on this blog. I’m glad you shared. I’m originally from Canada and my father was British, both countries that eschewed gun ownership. When I moved here as a young girl, it was a culture shock. Our current political environment is toxic. It’s good to see these brave, intelligent people standing up. Now we need to make sure they vote.

      When I looked at comments on her editorial yesterday, they seemed to be attacking her. It felt like salt on a wound. I’m so glad you’re here.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Americans treasure their right to bear arms. But just because it’s a *right*, it’s not a right people need to exercise. It’s a choice. I have a *right* to speak freely, but sometimes I choose not to because it will cause division, pain, sadness, anger or misunderstanding. No-one who lives in a civilised country ‘needs’ to carry a gun. No guns = no gun crime. Here, it took one mass shooting for Australia to choose to give up its guns. Sure, there are illegal weapons around, but in a vast minority. And some people are licensed to own rifles or shotguns if they have dangerous or destructive vermin on their property, but it’s very, very hard to get a licence and weapons must be kept locked up when not actually in use. It’s possible to be a good, healthy, positive, prosperous county without a gun culture.

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  3. Claire those outside your nation stand in solidarity with you hoping against hope that sanity will prevail. My prayer is that pressure be put on the congress and on President Trump that they can not continue to bury their heads in the sand and deluding themselves thinking by arming everyone will end the gun violence.
    We pray peace loving Americans will do all they can to bring this to an end. You continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for commenting. I’m with you. Continued pressure on Congress and the President, along with gun lobbyists and manufacturers is what’s needed to turn the tide. Enough is enough. It’s time to act. These young people are leading the way.

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  4. These families will never be the same. I’m so amazed by the articulate and well informed students taking this to the gov’t demanding change. They really are hero’s. I can’t even watch the never ending coverage.
    Frankly, I’m appalled at the way things continue to shake out over what would seem to be a no-brainer. Now, dumb-dumb suggests teachers will get a bonus if they carry a gun?!!! I don’t even know what to say.
    I caused a stir on Laurie’s FB Timeline two days ago over this very thing. I was called condescending and divisive when I pointed out that no-one is anonymous anymore. Someone there doesn’t want to be on another gov’t list and won’t register his guns. I suggested to him that FB and all social media is a big list (he uses his real name).
    We’re all on dozen’s of camera’s everyday just by using a credit card, bank machine, entering a store, fuelling up, etc. He didn’t take well to me pointing out the obvious. There’s just no reasoning with the ridiculous. He might think I have no right to an opinion because I’m Canadian. But as we travel a lot, I’m becoming increasingly fearful when traveling to the US and worry for you to be living this nightmare time and time again. Love you xo K

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think everyone is entitled to an opinion, so shame on him for shutting you down. You’re right about our loss of privacy in some respects, and our open abdication of it in others, like social media. It would be interesting to track lost tourism based on our gun laws. I don’t think you can track what someone chooses *not* to do, like travel, but it might show up in other ways.

      I’m with you on these young people making a difference. So many wasted lives. It’s been nice to have a break from all the politics at home. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I feel for everyone of you – for those who have lost loved ones by these shootings and those who live in fear of it happening to their children. I just wonder when it will all end and why so many are driven to this violence. I am sure there are so many of us praying for peace but it would be good if the people in power would help by bringing gun ownership to an end.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is a hashtag floating around that says that thoughts and prayers are wasted if we continue to allow this kind of violence. I agree. Of course we send thoughts and prayers, but now lets get down to business and fix this. Children can’t vote now, but one day they will. I hope they take this activitism and turn it into a sea change for good. The entire gun culture is lost on me. I’m a vegetarian who loves animals so I would never hunt. All the statistics for owning a gun for “personal safety” show that you are ten times more likely to shoot your weapon in a moment of anger or have it used by a small child in the home. They don’t make anyone safer. Further, would I really want to end someones life if they broke into my home? Of course not. I find it just as confusing as folks living in different countries to relate to our gun culture. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I really feel for the children in America. As if arming teachers is going to solve the appalling situation!!!
    I’m afraid I couldn’t bring myself to read the editorial but I can imagine the horror for a person subjected to such a devastating experience. I hold hope in my heart that your boys will stay safe, Alys x

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  7. Dear Alys, I read this post then went away – not knowing what to say, not sure how to respond, not understanding any of this NRA stance – except of course for the bit where it’s all about the money made by the manufacturers of the arms and ammunition. I truly don’t get the political system that allows weapons manufacturers to call the shots (ha – I didn’t mean to make an awful pun, sorry) most especially when it comes to the shocking armed assaults statistics found in the US. I feel for you all – all who know it is so wrong and see nothing changing year after year. All I can say is I hope these articulate and brave young people band together and find a way through the money fence to make changes for the better, for the common good. I hope they stay strong and brave and resilient and I hope their families and communities gather about them and support them fully – because they will be attacked and they will hurt and they will suffer. But I join with you and so hope they will prevail!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Pauline, for your thoughtful perspective. I can always count on you for clear and insightful thoughts. It will take strength and courage for these young people to continue this fight, but there are many others, like me, that will also support and guide and hope that finally, *finally* we can make a difference.

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  8. You have articulated well, the sentiment of so many of us. We need to do a better job of protecting our children. I don’t know when or how we became such a violent society. It’s all part of our culture now, violence on TV, movies, video games and then to have guns so readily available – it’s just too much! We overtook the tobacco lobbyists now we need to go after the gun lobbyists. These students deserve some adult answers.

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    • It is too much. I hope we are at the start of a sea change, with young people leading the charge. You’re so right about the tobacco lobbyists. What a difference, eh? In the eighties, about 40% of the population smoked. I believe it’s been cut in half again, and in California, only about 10% of people smoke. Thanks for commenting, Karen.

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  9. What to say, what to say . . . It’s like a corrupted version of Groundhog Day where the same thing happens over and over again. The only thing that helps the tiniest bit is that this time the ending seems a little different, a little more hopeful, because of the survivors and their articulate anger. I’m not naive about how hard it will be to change the gun culture but when I read about companies breaking tied with the NRA, etc., I still think . . . maybe?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kerry, it does feel different this time. The young people are leading the charge, and those of us that have opposed inadequate protection from guns in the past, can perhaps feel our voices heard. As Karen pointed out, we’ve changed our attitudes about cigarettes, the right for same sex marriage and other things that seemed insurmountable. I’m hoping, finally, we’re on a better path.

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  10. My settings won’t allow me to access Chelsea’s editorial but I am loving the way the young ones are standing up and demanding change. But, at the same time, I am also deeply saddened that they should have to do this; that they don’t as of right have safe schools. And, of course, I can’t shake my head hard enough or long enough over a President who thinks it’s okay for teachers carry guns.

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  11. No one is listening to the adults anymore. I’m praying the children have a louder voice. They are already having an effect. Things will change. The light is starting to shine on what is wrong here now. The more the ugly comes out of hiding, the better chance we have to repair it. It’s time and these young people are going to do just that. Time for the good old dinosaur boys to find a new way to be in the world. It hurts my heart so much I almost can’t breathe. We have seriously missed the point of the second amendment

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  12. My heart goes out to everyone involved. And how sad that your friend has to talk about a club of gun violence, how she must wish that there be no more members being accepted into this club. I have so much admiration for the students who are standing up to say “enough is enough”. It seems to me, from a long way away, that maybe things are beginning to change. Big hugs to you, dear Alys.

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    • Thank you for those hugs, Anne. I’m behind on all my blog reading as we travel, but look forward to catching up with you when I get home.

      Our youth are our future. Let’s hope this time they can move us forward. Big hugs back your way. And my goodness you seem so close. I wish I could fly to this side of the world and stay for six months. Australia is on my list, and visiting you is at the top. xo

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  13. I understand and relate to your emotion, Alys. We left home the day following the shooting to spend time in Northern California with my son and family. Their firstborn is now all of 5 months old, and my daughter-in-law was so emotional talking about the “when” this little guy will be in school and HOW would they ever let go of the protection they provide at home. I had to admit that here I am as a grandmother with few answers for her. I didn’t face some of these same fears when I was a young mother! It never occurred to me when my children were little that they were in danger of the kind of violence we see now! All I could say was that I, and millions like me, are not going to stop fighting for reform and some common sense laws. I have so much faith in the highschoolers and young people who are voicing their strength in making effective change. I believe their activism is not going to abate.

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    • Hi Debra, I’ve been traveling, so I’m way behind on comment posts. Thanks so much for sharing your perspective here. Times have changed quickly. This wasn’t even the case ten years ago. Now it’s all to prevalent. That said, I do have hope for the first time in awhile. Tomorrow my 17 year old son is leading his school’s walkout. 17 minutes, each minute for the lives lost. I feel a sea change I hope you’ll never have to worry about this when your grandchild starts school.

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  14. Oh, my dear. What a time of grief for anyone with a heart. I pray that the young people leading this charge will inspire adults, that people like Chelsea will continue to speak out and that they will leave those in power with no choice but to listen and act. Incredible that a gun lobby and an arcane understanding of an article in your constitution holds so many lives hostage today.

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    • I’ve been traveling for a couple of weeks, Cynthia, so I’m slow with my replies. Thank you for joining the conversation. You’ve stated beautifully the absurdity and the tragedy of it all. Tomorrow my 17 year old son is coordinating his school’s 17 minute walkout in honor of the victims and to draw continued support for this issue. These young people will soon be of voting age. It gives me hope.

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