With my privilege of dual citizenship, I have chosen to spend the last 18 years of my life in the States. I debate moving back to Canada often, but the weather here in Southern California has a louder voice and wins every time. I miss Canada in a way that only another expat can understand, but there are plenty of reasons to love the country I choose to live in as well. There are also moments when I am just plain embarrassed by my decision. Right now is one of those times.
I fully understand that the “right to bear arms” is a complicated topic deeply ingrained into American history. I also believe that there is zero legit reason your average civilian needs to own an assault rifle and that there is equally no purpose in allowing mentally unfit individuals access to any guns at all. To be fair, however, those are my opinions and there will always be someone else who can justify owning a semi-automatic or come up with a reason why limiting gun access to the mentally ill is “complicated.” And I must give a kudos to that because in most other contexts, the freedom we have in this country to entertain our own opinions without (too much) fear of repercussion is a wonderful privilege. But like Eleanor Roosevelt said, “With freedom comes responsibility” and I think that concept is a key piece of what has been missing in our discussions of this subject over the years.
When it comes to the matter of gun safety itself, I am confused why it’s still being debated at all. The choice seems simple to me: either this county loves its children and values human life more than its guns, possessions, and “rights” or it doesn’t. Either we stop projecting the “other” as being our enemy, seeing adversary in every person born outside of this county or every worst-case scenario we can dream of, or we wake up to the realization that we are the ones we should be afraid of. We are killing ourselves – our children – and wasting time.
Politicians continue to say that we need to have “honest discussions” about the topic, yet all that seems to do is create more debates and further arguments. Angry article after seething video after repetitive podcast all leading to nowhere except another mass shooting headline. All of this negativity hidden behind our “right” to have an opinion and shout it loudly to anyone listening: it’s all just a bunch of endless rhetoric that stalls any form of concrete decision. And in the meantime, spinning around the background in a giant black ball of hate, the problem continues to grow, feeding off of our rage and inability to act.
This topic is no longer up for debate – no one has brought anything new to the table in ages – what we need now is a viable solution. Everyone has their own beliefs and of course a country of over 323 million people will likely never come to a unanimous decision. That’s no longer the point and, in fact, has become a weak excuse for our immobility to move forward on this issue. We need to put down our emotionally-fueled opinions and self-righteousness and work together on a resolution. That is our responsibility in exchange for these freedoms we enjoy.
At this stage in the game, I doubt there are many of us left who can’t at least agree that this is a pretty damn serious problem that must be addressed. I mean we have children pleading for our help for heaven’s sake and we’re completely failing them because we’re too busy arguing about which one of us is correct. Remember how as teenagers we thought all adults were hopelessly out of touch? Turns out we were right: adults can be totally oblivious, in this case tragically so. We’ve gotten so lost in our self-imposed adulting we’ve forgotten what’s important, what’s at stake here. Instead of going on the defense every single time the subject comes up and starting the whole endless who’s right cycle all over again, let’s stop, put down our weapons and opinions about them, and work on this together. Seriously, America – before it’s too late.