I grew up in the country. I grew up with guns. I had my own weapon when I turned 12 years old (a Daisy Multi-Pump BB Gun). It kinda looked like this:
I used it to shoot the pigeons in the barn. I was a decent shot. They would poop all over the hay bales that we'd store and sell to neighboring farmers and those birds had to be dealt with because no amount of netting or deterrents could keep them out of the barn.
Everyone had guns where we lived. In fact when I went to high school, if you went out in the parking lot, you'd see the typical county-living stereotype of gun racks stacked with rifles in many truck rear windows. But we never heard of any incidents and no one was concerned. In college, guys I knew from all over the state brought their guns to school with them and we'd sometimes go shooting at a nearby quarry on weekends. They did have to register their handguns and rifles with the local police department but it was more of a formality. Again, I never heard of a shooting incident in the 4 years I was on campus in Pullman. This is all to say that I grew up around guns and felt comfortable living with them in my home, in my various communities and even around my schools as a young person and student.
And even with all of that influence, how I felt about guns could best be summed up by: "Have them, don't have them. Whatever."
But the world has changed and so have I.
In 1999, a few years after graduating from college I found myself staying home from work with a cold on my couch watching cable TV. Suddenly breaking news cut in about a shooting in-progress at a high school in Colorado. 'Columbine' would soon become a household word and a euphemism for destruction of innocence and safety in the most violent and deadly manner. I watched that coverage all day and into the evening--horrified to consider that this was even an option of what could be done.
A whole generation of kids have now grown up knowing what a mass shooting and an active shooter/lockdown drill are--some even know first hand what a gun sounds like when it fires inside their school. The most unlucky know the searing loss of family, friends, teachers, innocence...and the loss of feeling safe ever again.
I know that guns are tools and they can be used for good or ill. But this is different now. The access to guns is plentiful and the weapons are military-grade. I no longer live out in the country, and I now have children who are students themselves. The way I grew up--that time and place, that acceptance of being surrounded by guns without concern or action--is over.
A machine that can kill people so easily must have tighter restrictions, the process to get a weapon must be more rigorous. The rules around them simply have to be shored up for all of our sakes.
- Banning assault rifles/military grade weapons
- Banning high capacity magazines
- Raise the buying age to 21
- Expanded background checks
- No guns for abusers, mentally ill or violent criminals
- Ban anything that modifies an semi-automatic into a fully automatic
The world has changed and many people in this country, especially children, are needlessly dying because politicians, lobby organizations (NRA), gun manufacturers and zealous gun enthusiasts refuse to see it. So as Ken marches, I show up for Moms Demand Action. We keep calling to our Members of Congress and keep donating to gun reform groups. But most importantly, we never stop advocating so that our kids (and your kids) can live in this country with more safety and less fear from a preventable problem.
These are photos from the Seattle #MarchForOurLives Event that Ken attended on Saturday. Incredibly inspiring to see local folks, the big one in DC and all the national sister marches.
#Enough #NeverAgain #GunReformNow #GunSense #MomsDemandAction #Everytown
|Dr. Jeremia Bernhardt & Ken (#MarchBros)|