Another Gun Safety Rant

gunAlmost two weeks ago, Renisha McBride knocked on a door of a stranger’s house in the middle of the night. The homeowner shot her in the face with a shotgun. Renisha McBride, 19, is dead.

Yesterday, three teens were shot, but survived, outside their high school in Pittsburgh. The shootings may be drug related and six people are in custody.

I am blind with rage. We have good guys with guns and bad guys with guns and no one can tell the difference any more. We have teens riddled with bullets, dead and wounded, all over our country. Kids dying because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, because they were black and and outside after dark, because of drive-by crime or because of horrible accidents where an unsecured weapon fires due to curious hands touching it in the wrong way. We have mall shooters, school shooters, homeowners shooting kids, neighborhood watch volunteers playing cowboy with people’s lives and OH MY GOD. When does it stop?

I was on the Hill last week with a delegation from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America meeting with staff for Senator Mikulski and Senator Cardin. Both supportive of expended background checks, both acknowledging the problem of gun violence, neither able to move the rest of that stalwart, stubborn body to action. The allies of the gun safety movement are powerless against the myriad political forces raging against new gun regulations. Meanwhile, there are girls being shot on porches because they knock on the door of an armed man who thinks owning a gun imbues him with the power to be cop, judge, jury, and executioner.

Make. It. Stop.

Yesterday I emailed a woman. Her son is in my son’s class in kindergarten and they’ve become friends. I invited her boy to play at our house. In addition to the usual specifics about dates and times I included this sentence: “Just a safety FYI, we don’t have any pets or firearms, and all medications are stored out of reach.”

That sentence? It feels like power to me. I put that out there and I am telling other parents that I will safeguard their kids. It starts the conversation about the most local kind of gun safety, the kind that starts at home. I tell all parents about our firearm status and I ask about theirs before I let my young child go over to their house without me along.

This is the power we have today to manage gun safety. It will protect our own kids – the most selfish but justified form of advocacy – but it will make other people in our communities think about gun safety. I encourage all parents to ask and tell about guns in the home. It won’t change the whole country today but it’s better than silent voices and ringing gunshots.

For more on playdates and gun safety, check out this post I wrote for Babble a while back.

Photo credit: iStock

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