I really felt compelled to write this post today because of last night’s tragic shooting in a bar in Thousand Oaks, California.
One of the reasons I was so apprehensive about moving to the United States was because of the guns. Nothing anyone can ever say to me will convince me that guns need to be possessed by anyone other than the police and military. Growing up in the UK means I have had no interaction with guns. I have never feared that if my children go on a play date, there might be a gun in the house that is not locked up securely. I have never feared that if I sound my horn at an erratic driver that he may pull a gun out on me. I have never been in a crowded place and feared that someone could get out a gun at any moment and start shooting. Living in America now means I fear all those things and those fears are completely justified.
In March my children took part in a Lock Down Drill to prepare for the potential risk of a shooter entering the school grounds. The school were careful with how they explained this to the children. There was no mention of guns or killing, they stressed that it was just in case someone tried to get into school who wasn’t allowed. The children had to barricade the doors and hide in a corner where they couldn’t be seen through any windows. My children weren’t fazed by this, but when I heard about it I was shaken even though it still seemed a little surreal. This recent shooting has hit me hard because it is the closest to where I live. This is my home which is meant to be my ‘safe place’. It has all become a little bit more real today.
The shooter was a former U.S. Marine who they believe had post traumatic stress disorder. He was armed with a Glock 21 .45-caliber handgun with an extended magazine which means absolutely nothing to me, but an important fact is that he purchased this legally.
I do not believe that guns will ever be banned in America in my lifetime. Guns are so firmly entrenched in the American culture and believed to be such a major part of every Americans’ civil rights. However, I can only hope that most people can agree, that the vetting process must be stricter to ensure that those guns are only ever used for protection. That those guns are not in the hands of someone with a mental illness or a history of violence etc.
I wonder how many more lives will have to be lost before the laws change. How many more parents will have to bury their children? I will be hugging my children a little bit tighter tonight, but I refuse to lose hope for the future.