“A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.“
~The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, ratified 1791
On March 26, 2023, I went to Gasoline Alley to buy some scratch -offs for my daughter’s 18th birthday. Standing in front of me was a white dude wearing a Confederate flag doo-rag (first red flag) and telling an anecdote on his cell phone that included the term f*cking n*gger (second red flag). When it was his turn, he raised his arm to place his case of beer on the counter, revealing a handgun. I did not immediately think, “Now there is a brave man ready to protect the rest of us if there is an emergency.” What I thought was, “Now there is a very scared, hate-filled man ready to infect the rest of us with his fear and hatred.” I will also tell you that my animal brain screamed at me to vacate the premises immediately, which I did, scratch-offs be damned. In this day and age, nothing is scarier to me than a white guy who seems racist, angry, armed and possibly on his way to being inebriated.
The following morning, Audrey Hale shot and killed six people, including three children, at a school in Nashville, Tennessee. Hale, who was armed with two assault-style rifles and a handgun, fired off 152 rounds. Gun control opponents were quick to take to social media to blame everything from Hale’s mental health to her possible transgender identification.
A week later, a mass shooting occurred at the Old National Bank in Louisville. Five people were killed, and eight others were injured. Connor Sturgeon, the shooter, left notes revealing that part of his goal was to show how easy it is to buy a gun in the US.
My Granny Skinner had an old shotgun she used a few times a year to chase off the moles. Now, gun generally means handgun, probably a semiautomatic handgun, stored – but not locked – in a bedside table or glove compartment. More and more, especially with permitless laws, it is something you carry at all times on your body.
Americans have purchased over 60 million guns since 2020. One-fifth of U.S. households purchased guns during the pandemic, a national arming that exposed more than 15 million Americans to firearms in the home for the first time. Guns are now the number one killer of American children. At least 165 mass shootings – defined as a shooting where at least four people are shot – have been already reported in the US this year alone.
I keep thinking about the Gasoline Alley dude, who I can only assume would be willing to loudly and aggressively debate the Second Amendment with me. It’s a debate I can’t win because I can’t decide exactly how I feel about it. On one hand, I want to argue that our Founding Fathers couldn’t possibly have conceived of assault rifles when they drafted the Second Amendment. Or that they defined the term militia as something that can only be called by Congress in times of emergency. I want to say, but that’s not what they meant!
And then I remember that they were white (and cis-gendered, at least publicly) men in power and they very intentionally wanted to create laws that maintained that status quo. I suspect they were terrified of losing that power to women or blacks or any other minority. They deliberately set laws that would keep us marginalized.
So I won’t argue the Second Amendment here. What I will say is that I don’t think our Founding Fathers could have conceived of our current world, a place where weapons of mass destruction and the electric chair and internet child pornography exist. Meaning every generation must reinterpret those laws.
Why are we, as a nation, so scared of banning guns? In the last year alone, various states have banned reproductive rights, rights for transgender Americans, drag shows, and books.
It’s the guns. Not the gays. Not the pronouns. Not the books. The guns.
There is something fundamentally wrong with us that we would find books more dangerous than guns.
It isn’t that gun control measures don’t work. It isn’t in the financial interest of our representatives to enact gun control laws. Our politicians benefit greatly from the gun lobby. Mitch McConnel’s campaign has received more than a million dollars from the NRA, Rand Paul over $100,000.
In 1996, a gunman entered Dunblane Primary School in Scotland and killed 16 kids and a teacher. The UK government responded swiftly, enacting tight gun control legislation. In the almost 10,000 days since, guess how many school shootings have occurred in the U.K.? Zero.
Gun control laws work.
Kentucky’s gun laws are among the weakest in the country. No state law requires background checks on firearm sales. This makes it easy for prohibited purchasers to buy any gun they’d like with no questions asked. We do not prohibit convicted domestic abusers from owning guns. Kentucky is rated an abysmal 40th in gun law strength, but 14th in highest rate of gun deaths in the nation.
Here are the representatives for Clark County. Please contact them today (and often) to voice your concerns about gun laws. I have included a gun control message you can cut and paste into their contact links.
Mitch McConnel ( R )
Rand Paul ( R )
Andy Barr ( R )
I am contacting you as a constituent filled with grief, fear, and anger. I am fed up. As countless acts of preventable gun violence continue to threaten the safety of communities across the country day after day, I am urging you to support action on gun safety. I ask you to support common-sense legislation that would expand background checks to all gun sales and reinstate the Assault Weapons Ban. This common-sense legislation can help prevent tragic mass shootings, as well as the 120 gun deaths that happen every day.
Please, I’m urging you to prioritize public safety. Take action and save lives.