I haven’t written much lately, mainly because I’ve had a lot on my mind to sort through. Gun violence happens in the news every day, but this last month brought it knocking on my door twice.
A family friend named Colleen was murdered last month in her own home as she opened the door to a neighbor who intentionally sought to kill her because he detected “evil” coming off her. This man had been arrested in 2009 for attacking a female neighbor he thought was a molesting vampire. After shooting Colleen twice, he went on the news, publicly calling the murderer an animal and described Colleen as a good person who was a friend and neighbor for 20 years. News reports are saying this man is a schizophrenic who decided not to take his meds anymore. He lived with his mother. He had previously been institutionalized. His deceased father was an arms dealer, which is most likely how he obtained his cache of weapons.
Obviously this story has several moments that all added up to the tragic death of Colleen, a dedicated single mother to a highly autistic 15 year old son. This man clearly had a mental disorder that was not being addressed. His mother did nothing to help him, though his prior behavior indicated he was unstable. His mother also allowed him access to weapons, which means she should additionally be held responsible for the death of Colleen. People say we need to address how mental health his handled in our country. This is true, but something everyone can do right now to cut gun deaths is making sure weapons are locked away in the home, out of reach from children and unstable family members. Ammunition can also be stored separately from the weapon.
In our gun culture, some folks look at rights and lose sight of common sense. Yes, one can own a gun, but that comes with the responsibility of the lives put at risk if that gun is not stored and handled properly. The second amendment isn’t a free pass.
This murder made me see the dark side of the gun debate in people I know. I posted an article with the acknowledgment that gun culture is fucked up in our society. I got some responses that had nothing to do with saying “sorry for your loss” or “I understand this must be difficult, but…” I get that this is my opinion and others don’t see why I am in favor of expanded background checks, mandated safety training, harsher penalties for unlawful sales, etc, but at least have the decency to recognize that somebody I care about was shot to death before launching into a pro-second amendment rant. Humanity comes before gun rights, and if that isn’t clear, maybe someone in the conversation has lost their shit and shouldn’t own a gun anyway.
The second news-worthy gun attack happened at Santa Monica College, close to where I live. An unstable man killed his family, then went on a shooting spree through the streets of Los Angeles. This happened blocks from where I work. He shot up a bus that I ride. Someone I know was in the library when he came in shooting.
Did you hear about this story? Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t. Maybe you already forgot about it. These tragedies shouldn’t be so common place that a new gun spree out-shadows the one that happened a few weeks ago. This is further proof that our society needs to make an effort to change.