Gun Violence Continues to Kill Our Children

Today, a shooter went into a high school in Santa Fe, TX and killed at least 8 students. There may be more casualties. This is breaking news. What? You’re not shocked. If not, maybe it’s because since Sandy Hook, in the U.S. a gun has been fired on school grounds at least once a week. Maybe it’s because it has become almost commonplace for us to think a shooter *may* at some point show up at our children’s school. Maybe it’s because we know that all the pro-gun advocates have to offer up is more thoughts and prayers without a solution to this problem. We think it’s normal to tell our children to make sure they know where their safe place is. We think it’s normal to tell them to look out for children who may be carrying guns. I have news for you: this is not normal.

Some pro-gun people will tout that gun laws strip them of their second amendment rights. If you say something like the forefathers did not foresee these type of guns, they will laugh in your face. Their solution is to give guns to teachers. Their solution is to train teachers how to shoot an intruder. Since when is this a teacher’s duty? Don’t teachers already do enough? What are the psychological effects of a teacher killing a previous student, even if they previous student is doing harm to someone in the classroom? Can these questions even be answered? One school district even gave teachers tiny baseball bats to fend off intruders. That would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad.

The problem is, as soon as anyone brings up gun control, the pro-gun people go nuts.

“They want to take away our guns. What if the government goes berserk and I need them to create my own militia?”

I’m telling you–the government is already berserk. As soon at they shot down reasonable gun control laws after Sandy Hook they had betrayed the trust of the American people. They’re continuing to allow children to DIE because of money they’ve received from the NRA. Money and profits are more important to your government than putting their citizens first with reasonable gun control laws. No one wants to take away all the guns (well, I’m sure someone does, but that’s not what I’m advocating).

How many times do I have to blog about this? How many kids have to die before someone will do something to change the way things are? . This is not working for our U.S. Do we really want to send our kids to school in fear that their life could be snuffed out in a place where they are supposed to feel safe?

If you want to be shocked read this article on the LA Times and scroll down through the list of gun activity at schools:

Since Sandy Hook, a gun has been fired on school grounds nearly once a week

Or this article on Vox:

After Sandy Hook we said never again. And then we let 1,650 mass shootings happen.*

*It should be noted that the Vox article exaggerates. They consider a mass shooting an incident in which 4 or more people are killed. These could be any type of murders, not just in the school. Also, if the definition of 4 or more people is used as a mass shooting, then the mass shooting in Benton, KY would not count (2 killed, 18 injured). This is all semantics, and of course VOX is trying to get views by throwing that large number out there, but there is truth to the number out there just not in an apples to apples sort of way.

Anyway, my point is something needs to be done. We need better gun control laws. We need to figure out what’s going on with the white boys and why they feel like they need to go shoot up schools. Are we failing them? Probably. We need to make things right for our children by enacting commonsense gun control laws.

Every time I hear one of these stories it saddens me, but it also disgusts me that the U.S. continues to turn a blind eye. That ain’t justice or freedom. American children are living their lives in fear.

Here’s Three Commonsense Gun Laws we can fight for:

  1. National permit-to-purchase: policy requiring permits and background check before allowing someone to buy a firearm.
  2. No guns to violent offenders/domestic violence perpetrators: This law explains itself.
  3. Banning certain assault weapons, bumper stocks: What is the intent of these weapons? It’s not to go hunting. This is the law the pro-gun people have the hardest thing when. They don’t want anyone taking their guns. But after the Parkland shooting, the police stations saw people readily giving up their AR-15 and other assault-style weapons.

These are just three laws that would be well worth fighting for the reduce the number of casualties from gun violence every year. This type of gun control has been shown to work in other countries.

It’s time to make a change, America.

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The Rambler

Welcome back. Oh wait, I mean, you’ve been here so I am really just welcoming myself back. Life happened, and I realized this AM I had not blogged in a month. The strange thing is, I’ve been writing–well, at least a little bit. I have been working on my novel again. Mainly, I need to finish and then edit. This is what I’m very bad at doing. Editing seems like the dregs to me, and where is the time? It takes me a good three hours to be invested in editing my work, and there are no three-hour time slots open any where in my life.

But life is good, mostly. Good but stressful. I’ve made some great friends lately, and I’ve put myself out there. This is good, because I was having a near constant desire to sit in the blue easy chair, drink a Truly or two or three, and watch Netflix. I find leaving the house is the hardest before you actually do it. Like, it takes a lot of motivation to get off my butt and actually go out and be with people, but once I do it I love it.

I wanted to write about the Parkland shooting, because it’s never too soon to talk about common sense gun control. Last week, I blogged about it in my head. But then I thought, this is never going to change anything. My goal is to become involved in Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. This, I know, is the right thing to do. I have three kids, and I don’t want their right to life to be trumped by someone else’s right to own an AR-15. I know not everyone agrees with me, but I think the high school students speaking up for themselves, staging walk-outs and protests, is truly amazing. Folks, this is how democracy works.

And mental health? Why can’t it be both? I want our country to take mental health issues more seriously. It’s hard to get adequate care in this country. But so many people need it. I can’t tell you how much I’ve paid out of pocket to see therapists in my lifetime. And you know what–it helped me! And there’s nothing shameful about that. Get rid of the stigma surrounding mental health. That would be a nice place to start. Our boys (because those are usually the perpetrators of these crimes) need to learn self-control and self-regulation. I don’t think every violent crime is done by someone with mental health problems. I think ANGER is a huge issue in our society. Anger leads to domestic violence situations, mass shootings, as well as homicides. I think our boys have a lot of anger because they’ve been taught their whole lives to swallow their feelings. Well, that’s not doing anyone any good. Anger management needed, yes! Therapy or someone to talk to needed, yes. Let’s change society for the better. What’s wrong with doing that?

I promise, I’ll blog more. I have finished Waking Up White and need to blog about some of the ideas from reading and pondering over that book. I also am planning on writing a flash fiction piece and getting it posted. Here’s to more words more often.

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Seeking Understanding and Peace

I haven’t blogged in three weeks. I’m sure you noticed my silence. At first, there was no blog because I was in Mexico. Then I wanted to write about Mexico and July 4th, but I was getting back into the swing of things with work and simply didn’t have the time. Plus, I was using my mornings to read Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (must read!) and my lunches to workout. I gained some weight in Mexico. That story is for another time.

Then this week, two black men were killed at the hands of trigger-happy cops. Again. One man was approached because he was selling CDs illegally out of a parking lot. Another man was pulled over because his taillight was out. Both men were murdered.

I’ve thought a lot about this. I’ve listened to people say things like, “All life matters.” “This wouldn’t be news if it was a white man.” “If you do something illegal you deserve to be shot.” “If he hadn’t had a gun, he wouldn’t be shot.” (The gun one gets me, because these are some of the same people who said in Orlando, ‘If they’d only had guns…’” And the majority of these people are not for gun control). And I can tell you, that there are those that seek to blame the victim to deflect the real problem here which is racism. Those statements come from a place of white privilege. White privilege exists. Even if you’re poor and white you have white privilege, because of your history and because of the way our society caters to white people. Read Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, and you will get it. I have white privilege and I know it. My children do too. I’m not in the position to understand how the black community feels about this happening. I have never been in their shoes, but I know that this type of careless regard for people of color (POC) is not right. Racism is taught and passed down generation by generation. Often people who are racist don’t see themselves as such.

Covert racism is still racism, even if it isn’t seen as such.  Saying that Alton Sterling had a record, or he was selling CDs illegally is besides the point. If a white man was doing that, would he be held down, shot and killed or would he have a chance to be arrested and go to trial? And Philando Castile? He told the officer he had a gun in the car, reached for his license and was shot in the arm—for what? For being truthful? In front of his wife and child. If you have seen that video, or if you have seen the video of Sterling’s son sobbing and did not feel that what happened was wrong then something is very wrong with you.

Look at the numbers of the percentage of unarmed black people being killed in the US: http://mappingpoliceviolence.org/unarmed/. If you can look at these numbers and still tell me that this is not a problem then you don’t need to read any further, because nothing I write will make a difference to you.

I believe there are good cops. I know some. I believe there are cops who aren’t going to walk up to a man like Alton Sterling or a man like Philando Castile and shoot them. I believe the cops who did used their prejudices to harm people who they shouldn’t have. They let their racist views affect their judgment and that’s not okay. Those cops were ill prepared for the job that they signed up for.

I also believe it’s time to change the mentality in the US that violence is okay. In the wake of the deaths of Sterling and Castile, more violence came in the shooting of innocent cops at what was supposed to be a peaceful protest for #BlackLivesMatter in Dallas. This is not okay! Seeing this violence over social media has desensitized us to what actually is happening. These are not movies. Real, innocent people are losing their lives: POC and cops. Real children, wives, girlfriends, husbands, mothers and fathers are mourning their fathers, husbands, sons, wives, daughters TODAY. 

I have to ask you this question. Do you want your child growing up in a world where they see hate and violence every day? My children have good friends of color, and I feel for them and their parents. They live in fear that something will happen to them, their sons, their cousins, their brothers. As a white person, I speak from privilege and a place of not having to fear that for my sons. My boys won’t be looked at with a wary eye if they’re wearing a hoodie and walking down the road at night, but my friend’s son might, just because of the color of his skin.

I have friends who are cops, and I live in fear for them that now that these incidents have happened vigilantes will take it into their own hands to prove a point by killing more innocent people. It has got to stop. Gun violence doesn’t help. Hate doesn’t help. Protecting our brothers and sisters does. We can make a change when we start standing up for POC when we become vocal in saying what is happening is not okay; when we tell people we know and that we love that their racist comments are not helpful, but indeed they serve to drive a wedge between us and our brothers and sisters; when cops start turning in bad cops; when we find a way to control gun violence in this country. That change starts at home.

If you’re white, then talk to your children about the privilege they have in being white. Tell them that their friends who aren’t white don’t have that same privilege. Let them know that racism does still exist and that they will be taxed with fighting against it in the future. Tell them to stand up for their friends who are POC. Tell them not to accept overt or covert racism from people they know. Tell them that the solution to violence is never more violence. Ask the US to seek gun control. Provide mental health services for cops who have seen violence and tragedy in the field. I’m sure there’s a system in which cops can report other cops who they deem are misusing their power. Use those systems so that all Americans can feel safe when they’re pulled over for something as minor as a broken taillight. I don’t want to see anymore POC killed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time at the wrong side of a barrel. I don’t want to see any more cops senselessly killed for trying to do their duty and protect people. Let’s change America and bring back a sense of pride in the fact that we are different but that we are all US citizens who seek freedom and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Let’s show our children that we can live peacefully together, love one another and they don’t need to fear someone just because their skin is a different color.

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Finished

I wrote this for Terribleminds again. But I did have an agenda having to do with the Orlando shooting. Originally, I was just going to post this as a reconciliation story. In fact, I’d written something completely different. But in the light of what happened at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando over the weekend, I wanted to humanize the tragedy. I think so often, we aren’t able to see the human component of death and tragedy, because we are so desensitized by the media and the violence we see on television.


Finished – 836 words

Pounding. Like my head. I twist around in the sweaty sheets and stare at the numbers on the clock: 3:00 AM. The pounding continues. I try to grasp my bearings. I have no idea where I am. I switch on the light to see the impersonalization of a lonely hotel room.

Feet on soft carpet, but all I can think of is the grime of others feet before me. I realize when I’m almost to the door I’m completely naked. I turn around and walk over the sea of germs to the bed, pulling the sheet off and wrapping it around me like a toga.

When I get back to the door I look through the peep hole, but I can’t see anything. There’s something wrong with it—a little crack in the glass maybe—and so I open the door. And he’s standing there. I put my hands up to stop him from coming in but he stumbles forward, pushing back with both of his hands into my chest. I’m scared but it’s a silly feeling because I know he’s not going to hurt me.

He sinks on to the bed like it’s a sponge and puts his face into his hands. And he sobs. Giant ragged cries and inhuman noises escape his throat. They are noises no one should have to hear. And in a stunned moment I drop the sheet, standing naked in the middle of the hotel room with the door wide open. I slam it shut and gather the sheet bunching it up ineffectively under one of my arms so one breast is still visible, but I do not care.

As I cross the hotel room to him, I feel like I’m traveling a million miles and still unsure whether I’ll reach him. His sobs are becoming louder, and I feel a pit of sorrow lodge in my stomach even though I don’t know what’s wrong. I drop to my feet in front of him, placing my hands on the rough fabric of his jeans. His arms wrap around me and he leans his head down onto my shoulder. I can feel the ocean of his tears swimming down my back as his breaths become less jagged.

Finally he takes a deep breath and sits up straight. His hair falls in front of his eyes, and he pushes it back the way he always does with two fingers. I pull back and away from him and feel vulnerable and exposed, sitting naked in front of him.

“How’d you find me?” I ask. “And 3 in the morning?”

“One of your friends told me where you were,” he says.

“Lowell—”

“Shh.” His fingers are on my lips. Soft and inviting.

I hadn’t seen him in a month. Walked out. And as far as I knew he’d gone on with his life. The tears seemed too little too late. He wraps his arms around me again. I feel comfortable in his arms. Our bodies fit together as cliché as it sounds. I was never one of those people who believe in that hokey nonsense of we complete each other or soulmates.

When Lowell and I were together we laughed at each other’s jokes even when they weren’t funny. We didn’t resent each other. We argued and fought and found solutions. And I thought everything was as perfect as it could be for two tragically flawed human beings in love. But I’d been wrong. Because things fall apart. And our relationship began to unravel like an old quilt. One day, I left. I changed my number and walked out. I stayed with my friend for a few weeks. And about a week ago, I convinced my boss to put me up in temporary housing at an extended stay. After all, the reason I live in Orlando is for my job. I would have never moved here if it weren’t for Disney.

Lowell’s fingers slide into my hair. His lips are pressing against my forehead. And we kiss. He undresses and we make love with our bodies wrapped together and entwined like we have never been broken apart. Afterwards, we stare at each other. The soft pads of his fingertips trace the lines on my cheeks as if he is memorizing every part of my face. He starts crying too feeling lost and alone in his arms.

“The shooting last night,” Lowell begins. He seems to choke on the words. “Luis was there. Dad called me and told me today he couldn’t get a hold of him. He asked me to go by his apartment and check on him. He wasn’t there.”

My world sinks. It becomes dark. The hotel room looks concave. I want to faint. Lowell grabs my hands and pulls me closer to him. Skin on skin. Warmth. Love. We hold each other. The tears travel down my face.

“And he’s in the hospital?” I can hear the false lilt of hope in my voice.

“He’s not answering his phone.”

The world as I knew it crumbles into little pieces and breaks apart. I feel like I’m floating. Lowell pulls me closer and the ugly sobs of earlier return. We hold each other, and I try to comfort him. But I can’t.


How do you comfort someone who loses a loved one to a hate crime? There are ways to fix this problem, but we as Americans have to take action. We have to say no to the people who won’t compromise. Does the American public really need access to AK-47s and other assault weapons? The answer is no. Having fair gun control is not banning all guns. It doesn’t even affect your 2nd Amendment right. It simply makes it harder for people to gain access to guns they can use to exercise hate and small mindedness. These types of guns were created for the military, not for civilian use.

Unfortunately, the Orlando shooting has divided a lot of people instead of uniting us. But our brothers and sisters in the LBGTQ community have been affected. We need to use this as a reminder to teach our children that hate is wrong. We need to teach them love and acceptance. In the light of this shooting, it’s hard for me to understand how people are attacking Muslims. This spreads more hate against a minority group of people within our country. Not all Muslims are radicalized terrorists. In fact, the majority of them aren’t. When are we going to learn that judging others by the color of their skin, their race, their gender, and their religious beliefs is simply not productive?  If you think that way then you might want to look in the mirror, because studies shows white extremists have killed more people in the U.S. than Jidhadists since 9/11. The only thing you’re doing by spreading that false information is creating more hate, which leads to more crime and violence. Don’t we want a world in which our children can grow up safe and accepted? It’s time to stop the blame and create a solution. Enough is enough.


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Love, Not Hate

Enough Gun Violence

I debated blogging about Orlando. More because I couldn’t face having to blog about another senseless tragedy yet again. My children are growing up in a world where anyone can purchase guns with the intent of committing mass murder. Nothing is stopping them from doing this. They’re able to get a hold of guns easily. They’re able to take innocent human lives. The brothers, sisters, sons, daughters of someone.

The news media is blaming ISIS. An American who had been twice-investigated by the FBI purchased two guns to commit this horrible hate crime. He pledged allegiance to ISIS. But if he hadn’t have been able to purchase those guns in the first place, because of a background check then the violence on this scale would never have happened.  The US lacks a system that can stop the scale of gun-related violence and death. In 2015, 12,942 people were killed in gun homicide (*Statistic from The Trace).  We need gun control reform, pure and simple. And while that’s a hot issue, it needs to be addressed. Innocent people will keep being killed if there aren’t reforms put into place to monitor who guns are sold to and what types of guns are sold. Why do assault weapons need to be sold to the general public when their whole intention is to kill other human beings? Americans throw up their hands and mourn, but we fail to do anything to fix the problem.

I can tell you that hate is never going to be eradicated. Terrorists are never going to cease to exist. They’ve existed from the beginning of time. It’s human nature to fight, be aggressive, and to hate. The way to get to the route of this problem is to institute a fair system for purchasing guns. I’m all for hunting rifles. And yes, there will still be accidents and killings with hunting rifles, but I can tell you if guns are harder to get the level of mass shootings that take place will drop dramatically.

I have a lot of friends who are part of the LGBTQ community. And I can tell you, their hearts are breaking. I’m not gay, but I can’t even imagine having to live with the level of discrimination they receive every day. Some people defend their discrimination as Christian, but do you think Jesus Christ would really be happy with you spreading hate instead of acceptance?

Religion Hate

I know this post is rambling and not cohesive, but I’m just so mad. The LGBTQ community has fought so hard for legislation to become accepted in this country. I’m hoping this coward’s action will solidify the love for the LGBTQ community instead of spur more hate. I’m hoping it will spur gun reform, but I know that’s not realistic because of all the money the NRA has in politicians’ hands.

As a regular citizen, we’re capable of doing a few things:

  • Show outrage that people were killed.
  • Vote in politicians who want gun control reform.
  • Write to your senators, or anyone in politics who might listen.
  • Throw Your Support Behind Gun Control
  • Teach your children to be accepting of people, even if they’re different from you.
  • Hate starts at home. Treat your children and others the way you’d want to be treated to eliminate hate.
  • Put yourself in another person’s shoes. Think about how you’d feel if you were always called derogatory names, targeted for hate crimes, and excluded from churches based on who you loved.

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