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from the soapbox....

Getting on my soapbox – and I’m going to be here for a while……..

This post from August 4, 2019, popped up in my Facebook memories today:

The mass shooting in El Paso.

This is personal for me. We lived in El Paso. While there wasn’t a Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club, we shopped frequently at now next door at Cielo Vista Mall. I took my kids to see “Santa Claus: The Movie” at the theater there. I worked at a travel agency on Viscount less than a mile away. My daughter started to school in El Paso and still travels there for work, staying in a hotel in that area.

It could have been me.

Or it could have been you.

It’s time to move past thoughts and prayers.

There are those who will say guns don’t kill people, people kill people, that it’s a mental health issue. As stupid as that statement is, it’s true: guns don’t kill people, but they facilitate their murder. Someone who can kill another has to have something terribly wrong mentally.

We have a mental health epidemic in this country. Maybe it’s caused by the chemicals in the food we eat or the air we breathe. Maybe it’s genetic. Whatever the cause, it is real and we need to be able to discuss our mental health, whatever it might be, out in the open and without judgement. It is not a weakness. It is not something of which to be ashamed or, if ignored, will go away. There’s no snapping out of it, just snapping. People are killing themselves. People are killing others.

And parents: watch your kids. Is it a phase or a problem? A 21-year-old kid massacred all of those people in El Paso. A 19-year-old kid was the shooter at the Gilroy Garlic Festival last Sunday. A 17-year-old kid killed 10 people at Santa Fe High School last year. A 17-year-old kid murdered my brother Bill. I told Bill his son had a drug problem – Bill’s response was “leave Tyler alone, he’s not doing anything we didn’t do” and three weeks later Bill was dead. It wasn’t a phase. It was a problem.

Then there’s the guns/lax gun laws: I’m not against the 2nd amendment. My dad was a hunter and we had guns in our house. I am, however, for responsible gun ownership. I’m asking that guns be kept away from those who are even slightly unhinged. I am in favor of background checks. I’m asking that guns be kept away from kids.

I’m not trying to take your guns…UNLESS they are assault weapons. There is no need for those rifles to be anywhere other than in the hands of the military during training and on the battlefield. They do not belong in our communities. Assault weapons are not needed for hunting. They are not needed for anything in the civilian world. I keep hearing they’re fun to shoot. Guess what? it’s fun to drive 100 miles an hour, too. These guns are falling in to the wrong hands. If a food product made 20 people sick, it would be yanked off the shelves and recalled immediately. If it killed 20 people, the manufacturer would be out of business. Why doesn’t it work that way with guns?

And then we get to hate rhetoric: stop. JUST STOP! If there’s someone you know personally, professionally, politically, speaking words of hate, stop! Stop looking the other way! Stop supporting those who encourage or are even okay with spreading hate, no matter how benign it might seem. IF you think this is a mental health issue, THEN you have to know that those with these kinds of mental health issues are absorbing and even encouraged by these hate messages. People are dying. Stop. It’s not funny. It’s not a phase. It’s a problem!

It IS personal for me and it should be personal for you. It could be your kids or grandkids or the teachers in your life in a classroom. You could have been the one stopping in Wal-Mart for a gallon of paint or to buy school supplies or to pick up a bullet-proof backpack, now being sold in Texas. You could have been the one in a movie theater or at a festival or in a church or a synagogue or a restaurant. Remember Luby’s in Killeen? Or have mass shootings become so common that those 23 people killed have been forgotten?

It’s time for you to do something - me, too.

I will stop being silent.

I will get involved.

I will speak out against hate.

I will vote.

I will do everything I can to make this a safer place for my kids, my granddaughters and your kids and grandkids, too.

Last night while we were still trying to absorb the massacre in El Paso, there was another mass shooting in downtown Dayton, Ohio.

Two mass shootings within 15 hours.

We’re way past thoughts and prayers.

Since I posted this rant, there have been 45 mass shootings in the United States, including the massacre in Uvalde, Texas, May 24th killing 19 students and 2 teachers. The powers that be in Texas have passed into law measures that virtually eliminate all restrictions on buying weapons, including assault rifles, on gun ownership and have done away with any type of vetting process.

And now this, from the Wednesday, August 3, 2022, edition of our local newspaper, The Daily News: “Seven people were injured Tuesday night by who police suspect were minors driving around the East End with a pellet gun”, police said. “None of the seven people had serious or life-threatening injuries, but two people were transported to the hospital”, Galveston Police Department spokeswoman Sgt. Stacey Papillion said. Police suspect minors were responsible for the shootings. A random act of violence. police say.

These shootings were less than a mile from my home.

Enough is enough. I refuse to live my life afraid. I refuse to let my granddaughters live in danger. I will stop being silent.

I will get involved.

I will speak out against hate.

I will vote.

I will do everything I can to make this a safer place for my kids, my granddaughters and your kids and grandkids, too.

What will you do?

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