Photo by David Levêque on Unsplash

Stop praying for the families devastated by gun violence. Start voting for changes that can prevent it instead.

When I saw the news yesterday of the horrific shooting in Uvalde, Texas that killed at least 19 elementary school children and 2 adults…I wanted to cry. As a mother I wanted to cry. I wanted to cry, but all I could do was let out an anguished scream of frustration. I want to feel heartbroken but the emotion taking over is anger. Anger that this keeps happening over and over like a horrible recurring nightmare, and we just keep letting it happen.

When will it be enough? How many children have to die before we stop giving people,kids access to assault weapons? Let me say that again: When will be stop giving kids access to assault weapons?

Does anyone else feel dirty just saying that sentence out loud? Why does anyone in this country have access to assault rifles? Why is it easier for an 18 year old kid with mental health issues to buy a gun than it is for my 15 year old daughter to get birth control? That kid couldn’t buy alcohol, but he could buy an assault rifle? WT actual F.

But we can bitch and moan and ask these questions all day long and it won’t change anything. The power to prevent these devastating shootings and needless deaths lies with us. The people.

We the people have to stop believing the lie that stricter gun laws mean terminating your constitutional right to bear arms. It doesn’t.

We have to stop correlating stricter gun control with the loss of our right to own guns. I don’t personally believe in guns and I think we’d all be better off if they weren’t allowed at all. There are other options for protection (a main argument of pro-gun activists) that don’t kill multiple innocent lives in a matter of seconds. However, I also believe taking away the right to bear arms would open a pandoras box that would set a dangerous precedent allowing our rights and freedoms to be picked off and tossed away one at a time. I don’t want that.

What I do want is for people to realize that easy access to lethal weapons is not a right. It’s a threat. It’s dangerous. It’s destroying lives and communities. It’s not a potential problem. Gun violence is a real problem happening right now in real life – over and over and over again. And we can’t just sit here and watch it and write some meaningless condolence post on social media offering our thoughts and prayers to the families after the destruction has wrecked their lives. I would personally take that as a slap in the face. Because some of the same people offering their “heart-felt prayers” are also the ones fighting against stricter gun control. In my opinion, you may as well be handing him the gun yourself.

We the people have to fight for better access to mental health services.

We have to fight for affordable and accessible healthcare. We have to fight for awareness of mental health issues – sans the stigmatization. We are getting this very, very wrong here in America. People associate free healthcare with higher taxes and continue to vote against expanding programs like Medicaid, Medicare and Disability benefits. We are fed a lie that we are giving away our hard earned money to freeloaders. At the same time, we accept and promote a viewpoint that says that mental health issues are a weakness of this generation. That people suffering are snowflakes who can’t handle life and need to toughen up.

These mentalities STOP people from seeking help. They prevent people from having access to help. They are destroying the lives of victims of this and many other acts of gun violence across our country. Do not think for a second that I am defending or justifying the actions of the shooter here. But truth be told, in the weeks leading up to this event, he was self harming, cutting his face over and over. In such a visible place, it is highly likely a cry for help. I don’t know enough background on him at this point to make any kind of judgement but that is clearly an unhealthy expression of emotion. His friend said he was severely bullied most of his life. He needed help. He was asking for help. And I’m sorry to say, we do not seem to be about helping people in this country. Until we have a system that provides affordable and easily accessible healthcare for everyone, we will continue to see untreated mental health issues lead to devastating consequences like this shooting.

We have the power to change these things, and it is our responsibility to do so.

We are the ones who have the power to change this, and we are not doing anything but contributing to the problem while we send our prayers and condolences to victim after victim after victim. It’s not that our thoughts, prayers, healing vibes and condolences are bad. It’s that they are not enough. Too many of us think we can send a send out a heartfelt message and go right back to spreading hate not 2 seconds later. We can’t create change this way!

There are two very effective ways to drastically minimize gun violence and needless deaths. And I believe it is our duty to fight to make sure these policies take place.

Create stricter gun laws.

Provide free healthcare.

And we the people have the power to make these two things a reality. Easily.

So stop praying for the victims. Stop sending condolences. Stop putting assault weapons in the hands of angry, hurting, mentally unstable people that have been failed by our restrictive and biased healthcare system. Stop believing and spreading lies that fuel stigmatization and ultimately, hate. Start fighting to make changes in policy that will end access to dangerous weapons and ensure responsible gun ownership. Start fighting to provide the mental health services desperately needed for the right to quality of life and to prevent violent, desperate rampages.

Stop gun violence.