My mum is a school teacher.
My uncle is a sheriff in Colorado.
My sister lost a friend in a school shooting.
We grew up and went to school in Jefferson County, down the road from Columbine, practicing what to do if (when) an active shooter comes on campus.
This issue is deeply personal to me. It is my greatest fear and my biggest source of anger all wrapped up into one.
I can’t write this in an eloquent or beautiful way. Further, I don’t want to participate in the tired argument between liberals and conservatives. I am fully aware that this is not solely a gun problem; that there are mental health and other issues at play in these events.
My family grew up in Australia. We never did active shooter drills. I never worried for my sister or mum as they went to school. I never had anxiety attacks in movie theatres, or pushed away that nagging fear that someone could open fire in my church service.
Some people get offended when I claim my Australian identity over my American. But when I see headlines like today’s, I am so deeply ashamed to be from a country that allows an issue like this to perpetuate. I am so embarrassed that the rest of the world is looking at us in total shock: why don’t they do anything?
I’m not going to tell you about Port Arthur and gun control in Australia, because you’ve already heard the facts and you don’t care. Australia is different than the USA, you’ll argue. People can get guns illegally, you’ll insist.
But maybe we won’t ever know until we try to stop this out of control and senseless issue that we can’t do anything. We can’t argue that gun control won’t be successful until we try.
But we’re not trying.
Some of us are mourning. Some of us are trying to find a middle ground. And some of us are stubbornly insisting that there is no problem, full of blind pride that this will simply just go away and any mention of restricting the very weapons that are mass murdering people is a threat to their “American liberties”.
We have ruined schools, movie theatres, and concerts. We have ruined churches and homes. We have shot all races, all ages, all genders, all political parties. We do not discriminate when it comes to shootings.
And our hearts break, yet again, and we fight with conservatives and the NRA, yet again, and there seems to be only more headlines, more arguments about how the guns were purchased and bullet proof vests and bump stocks, instead of restricting the very weapons that are mass murdering innocent people.
I don’t know that your 2nd Amendment rights are worth this. But you'll tell me they are and how dare we try to restrict them. How dare we propose changes to a flawed and broken system.
The United States has consistently stepped in when human rights are threatened (whether another county wanted us to or not). We condemn nations that endanger the lives of their people, and yet we conveniently ignore very real dangers and threats on our own soil.
The response is no longer shock. I am heartbroken, furious, and downcast but I am not at all surprised anymore. That’s such a sad place to be, to see a headline like today’s and not be shocked that someone would do that.
This is a uniquely American problem.
And it seems to be rooted in pride.
I would encourage you, if you have not already, to travel outside of the United States. Yes, this is a wonderful place, and yes we have so much to be grateful for here. But if we never leave and experience something different, we run the risk of becoming over zealous for our way of doing things. We run the risk of thinking we know best, even when we haven't seen anything else.
And when you do step outside of this country, this beautiful, diverse, stubborn, prideful country, and truly immerse yourself in someone else’s way of doing life, something happens to the way you see your home nation. Your appreciation for it grows ten fold, and you become more able to talk honestly and openly about it’s downfalls. We’re not there yet. We’re too angry, too defensive, too prideful to admits that somewhere along the way we got it wrong.
Hubris means excessive pride that ultimately leads to downfall or demise. I can’t help but think that our attitudes and defensive towards guns might just be ours.