May 26, 2022
To the families in Uvalde, Texas, I can only extend a bowed head in reverence and silence to your loss.
To the rest of us I do implore that enough is enough. We have promises to make and keep. To these families we must promise that our actions will speak to the prevention of firearm tragedies as experienced yesterday.
And a week ago, many miles away, in a grocery store. And years ago, in nightclubs, movie theaters, centers of religious practices and at concerts.
And, many times over, in years past, in our schools.
Uvalde, Texas hits particularly hard. One had a sense that we are ‘out of the woods’ so to speak with acts of violence with firearms. How incorrect could I be?
I reside in Wisconsin, a state of the United States, seven hundred miles away from the city of 16,000. I raised my son in a small town similar to Uvalde. He is now in his twenties, striking out in his own life. I remember my worries as his mother. I had nightmares that his school would catch on fire.
When I taught in that same school, with each fire drill, a piece of my mind would rest. Later on, our drills included the practicing of what to do in the case of a shooter.
A decade later, now as a store manager, I still ensure each associate knows procedures in the case of such threats. It is corporate policy that each quarter we renew those lessons and practices.
Two years ago, as a mother, I was jarred by Mr. George Floyd’s death. I believe there are circumstances which call out to ones being. Mr. Floyd? Enough was enough. Uvalde, Texas? Enough is enough.
But what does that mean? I have nothing new to offer any of these situations. But if I believe that enough is enough, then there is some work to do. There is change to navigate, guide and process even if those changes are focused only in my corner of the world.
I feel compelled to enter into the conversation. I feel compelled to know that we as a society have changed this part of our society.
I begin with the awareness that I know near to nothing about firearms and even less about firearm legislation. I do acknowledge that whatever law is in place, it does not seem to ‘work’. Maybe nothing can?
I wrestle with the politics of firearm legislation. As more and more details are reported from the Texas shooting, I realize I do not even know the characteristics of an assault rifle.
I was born and raised in the state of Wisconsin. Deer hunting was always a prevalent component of our culture. Guns meant a lot to my family. They were a symbol of ‘passing the torch’ from grandfathers to sons to grandsons. Along with fine German and British chinaware, my grandmother’s dining room was also decorated with a rifle above the doorway. It was a pretty old gun which I can remember as never being moved much less even used.
And despite his many attempts, I do not remember my father ever shooting a deer. But I do remember his adoration of a kit to make a rifle. On a trip to the Southern states, he had purchased it at the Dixie Gun Works. My father passed away, his southern rifle still unfinished.
Personally I like guns. I live in the woods which means every two or three years I have a visit from the bear family. While they focus upon my bird feeders, I like knowing I have a gun that I can use.
But I am a horrible shot. I would like to admit otherwise but I am horrible. And to be sure, I attended instructions on how to shoot clays and how to target shoot. And yes I could see the appeal of regular shooting as a sport and even the camaraderie of the shooting clubs. But no, I am a horrible shot.
Many of my friends, however, are fervent gun owners…
Enough is enough, my friends. When the news reports begin, I wonder about gun control. What is an AR? What is an assault rifle? In the mix of the reports, are commentaries from many sides of the gun control fence.
Some of the speeches are frightening in their degree. The emotion expressed in the politics, to me, is inappropriate. (My reaction surprises me further – I am usually the queen of emotion and empathy). I am shocked at the lack of details and the poor information.
I am no expert but I discover that a true assault rifle is one that has certain characteristics. Among those characteristics is the capability to operate as an automatic rifle and as a semi-automatic rifle.
Well, what does that mean? First, I pause to salute the engineering of weaponry. I’m struggling a bit with my new fascination of these guns. Their innovation results from how they are fired.
Hmm. No. I mean how the gun actually fires the bullet is the innovation. Rather than a pin hitting a bullet, the power to expel a bullet arises from the gases of the cartridge itself and from the one prior to the one being shot.
Please, I urge everyone to read about these weapons. They are marvels. They are marvels which were created to kill people effectively.
Now comes the question of the character of automatic or semi-automatic. In an infantry, the single pull of a trigger would actually expel three shots. But in a civilian or non-military weapon, the assault rifle semi-automatic use means that a bullet is fired with each pull of a trigger. Fully automatic means that the pull of a trigger shoots multiple rounds or multiple bullets.￼
In news reports and among politicians, the term assault rifle is used to describe the style of firearm. That realization came about as I tried to understand the reports and speeches. The details did not make sense. I read about the interchange of assault rifle in its truest sense and the use of the noun as a descriptive term.
Such poor information helps no one. I started talking with my ‘gun friends.’ I started to read further as I listened to the news reports from Texas.
The hundreds of miles between us grows shorter and shorter.
I started to read about legislation. In Wisconsin you cannot own a fully automatic rifle. Or can you?
At a federal level, there are laws, aren’t there? One in particular caught my eye. The Federal Assault Weapons Ban ‘banned’ semi automatic firearms which had the appearance of assault weapons and large capacity magazines. Interestingly and horrifically the AWB of 1994 expired in 2004.
This piece of legislation was actually that: it was a piece of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.
I needed to pause.
As the news reports proceeded, I kept digging. My gun friends insisted a person could not purchase an assault rifle. I called a reputable gun dealer. In the state of Wisconsin, a person can purchase such a weapon. That is a fact. Not every dealer will deal in automatic weapons. This particular one does not. He stated that he does not want them in his store.
He knew of a different store which does handle them. On the purchaser side, I would need to pay $200 for an application to buy. This application requests the government to grant approval for the purchase.
Whether a person likes it or not, those are the facts I discovered. And this information is by no means complete. It is nowhere near enough, but my understanding is increased. My desire to further inquire continues.
As I keep studying, I begin to wonder at the solutions. What will work? Unfortunately, like so many preventive measures, a person never knows the dangers which have been averted. How does one know the effectiveness of legislation at the level of a purchase which was denied or a similar access thwarted?
Absence. The prolonged absence of these tragedies and the anniversaries of tragedy will remind a society of the measurement of success.
Normally I do not speak my opinions. But enough is enough. And normally I do not feel compelled to sign petitions. But I did today. One of the families from the Sandy Hook tragedy posted an online petition. I signed it. I also read about the proposed preventive measures.
One proposal is the elimination of large capacity clips. Both the shooters from Sandy Hook and Uvalde held firearms with multiple clips of thirty rounds each.
I apologize for the possible insensitivity of these details at such a time, but enough is enough. And the only possible good I can accomplish is the insistence upon knowledge of the details. As a society, we must act with intellect. We must act, leaving the politics at the door.
My gun friends agreed upon the elimination of large capacity magazines. I was surprised. I wanted their gun loving, second amendment touting, freedom rocking viewpoint because if I limit my study to only my own, I believe I am ineffective. A solution will not be a solution without a respect of their input.
They could agree on the elimination of large capacity clips. We spoke of what size would be appropriate for which size caliber. While the step is a small step, it is step forward.
I find the topic of background checks to be one of a slam dunk. Of course, right?
“Hmm, not so fast,” say many gun advocates. I have worked at businesses which sold guns. I sold firearms. I performed background checks. Many people state they are already submitting themselves to background checks. They feel the government already possesses too much information on the guns owned by particular individuals.
Some gun advocates feel differently. They see no issue with background checks. They have nothing to hide. It is their price to pay for their gun ownership.
Either way, many reason that increased levels of background checks would not prevent inappropriate and dangerous ownership. Such actions would penalize the incorrectly targeted owners.
Enough is enough. The debates upon the factors involved in these tragedies are as endless as the factors themselves. While we as a society study these factors in order to solve the problematic ones, perhaps we should push to approve the elimination of large capacity clips and the increased sophistication of background check usage and compliance. Small, possibly effective steps.
I do not wish to either wallow in the inappropriate inflammatory political rhetoric or the ambivalence produced by the fallacy of perceived distances.
To those families…after all these words, I can still only bow my head. But I can promise to continue…
Enough is enough.