I am always hesitant to write a piece like this as it seems so reactionary, but yesterday’s school shooting has again cast a terrible light on an issue that will seemingly never go away. The politicians and the naysayers will spin the story that the cause of this carnage is not the availability of guns but rather the criminal nature of the shooter. They will disregard the fact that access to an assault rifle combined with a deep mental illness made this shooting all too easy and all too inevitable.
So what, as a nation in mourning, do we do? What can we do? I will be the first to agree that the victims, children and parents, need our thoughts and prayers, but let’s not for a moment decide that those thoughts and prayers are somehow enough. It is utterly incredible that we have federal, state and local lawmakers that seem to have no problem banning books, music, art, or curriculums that offend them, but steadfastly refuse to consider banning assault weapons as that would be a denial of our basic freedom.
In the wake of the shooting, Representative Andrew Ogles (R-TN), who represents Nashville thanks to redistricting by the Republican legislature that cut up a Democratic district, said he was “utterly heartbroken” by the shooting and offered “thoughts and prayers to the families of those lost.”
In 2021, Ogles, his wife, and two of his three children held guns as they posed for a Christmas card with a caption that read: “The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference—they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.”
My father was a hunter. I married into a family of hunters. I have countless friends who enjoy the sport of hunting, but none of these individuals ever once considered using an assault rifle in the pursuit of that sport. Assault rifles are useful for exactly that, an assault. An assault on an enemy stronghold. An assault by law enforcement in an attempt to protect the public. But never should an assault weapon be the choice of, or available to an individual assaulting school children or any other public gathering.
We do not need to accept the inaction of our elected legislators. We do not need to bend under the pressure of gun lobbyists. We can act, and we do it with our vote. If the majority of Americans favor, at the very least, restricting access to these weapons, why are lawmakers so deaf to those sentiments, and why are they still entrenched in power?
A new U of Chicago Harris/AP-NORC poll shows majorities of U.S. adults support restricting gun purchases, including tighter background check laws and a ban on AR-15 style weapons. Fewer support allowing people to carry guns without a permit. When asked, “Do you favor, oppose, or neither favor nor oppose each of the following policies?” Eighty-five percent of U.S. adults said they favor a federal law requiring background checks on all gun buyers; 83% back a federal law banning convicted domestic abusers from buying a gun; 75% favor making 21 the minimum legal age to buy a gun nationwide; 59% back a nationwide ban on the sale of AR-15 style semiautomatic weapons. Only 29% say they would support state laws allowing people to carry guns in public without a permit.
The failure of the majority of our lawmakers to take action in light of these kind of polls and their resulting statistics, begs the question, who are they really serving? They are not serving me.
My thoughts and prayers ARE with the parents who yesterday lost a child, with those who lost a friend, with the City of Nashville, and for that matter, with each and everyone of us who yesterday lost another slice of our freedom to feel safe.