There once was a middle-of-the-night when I called my dad, awake and sweaty, shaking from a terrible dream. In it, a man had climbed through my window, the same way that my roommate’s boyfriend had done countless times. Instead of having to listen to moaning while faking sleep, this dream brought blood and horror.
The local news had given my neighborhood a story to gossip about. An old woman – I think she was 90, although the years have withered away some of the facts – had been raped, killed, burned with gasoline, and thrown into a dumpster just blocks away from my crappy affordable apartment.
Sobbing, I called my dad, and told him that I wanted a gun.
“Shhh, Honey,” he replied. “Tell me why. What’s wrong?”
“I had a dream. That same one, where somebody crawls into the window and stabs me after stabbing my dog.”
“Ok,” my dad said. “Where would you keep it?”
“In my dresser, I guess.”
“Would it be loaded?”
“Uhm, no? I guess not? That little neighbor girl comes over sometimes…I guess I’d keep the bullets somewhere else?”
“Ok,” Dad replied. “Where would you keep the bullets?”
“By the bed?” I asked.
“So, somebody breaks in with a knife. You scramble to get the gun. He sees you lurching for it. Can you get it in time? Can you shoot him before he enters your window with a knife and now has your gun in his hand?
Could you shoot him, not knowing whether he wants your TV or your life?”
“Never mind, Dad. Thanks. I love you.”
“I love you too. Get some rest.”
That was the last time I wanted to have a gun in my house. I must have been 19 or 20 years old.
Yes, this is a post about gun violence, and something I’d never have anticipated writing about here, on Finding Ninee. I think it’s time though. I think it’s time that I write about loving my rights and my country and how I also think that our gun laws are completely out of whack and that while “people kill people,” guns help them, and make it way too damn easy to do so.
It’s Time to Talk about Gun Violence.
Damp from the shower, I circle my frayed pink and yellow washcloth on the mirror, revealing more of my image through the steam. I comb my hair, and, after checking to be sure the door is locked so that my younger brothers aren’t able to barge in, I peel off my towel. For the first time in months, my eyes are not drawn immediately to my newly budding breasts, but instead to the bruise flowering red, blue, and brownish above my collarbone.
Fingering it with pride and disgust, I thought about the weekend, and about lying on the ground. On my belly behind a dirt mound, stiff hay-like grass poking through my jeans and into my thighs, I wiggled to get comfortable. I adjusted the strap of my safety glasses on the back of my head, where it was pulling my hair and felt like it was sliding up and slipping off.
I looked over at my brother, who appeared so much more natural lying on his belly. Like a little warrior, ready and comfortable on the dusty earth. My dad’s feet, near my head, reminding me to look through the trigger, to pull slowly, steadily, and to not shut my eyes. To see the target. He backed off, and told us we were clear to shoot.
I hit my paper-person target several times that afternoon. It felt good. I liked it.
“Honey, I have some really bad news,” my mom squeaked into the phone. “Jeremy is dead.”
The 6’7” mostly unknown man who had been my forever childhood friend was dead.
“What?” I asked? Certainly, I’d misheard.
“He was shot on Friday. His mom verified that it was him today. She had to wait but today saw his body, his shot-up face and knew that he was hers. She knew that he was hers, and she knows that he’s gone.”
A young man, in his mid-20’s. Shot dead, in front of his pregnant girlfriend by a boy named David, who that morning told his friend and his Priest that he was going to get a gun and kill Jeremy. Kill himself.
And, he did.
What if he’d had more cooling off time? What if it were hard for him to load that damn gun, to get bullets, and to shoot it? What if he’d had time to regret his actions? What if he’d have had to kill Jeremy, and himself, with a knife? With his hands?
“FUCK YOU!” I screamed. “I hate you and never want to see you again!” My neck, sore for days, was a painful and deserved reminder of temper winning over reason. Later, sobbing, “I’m sorry. I was angry. I didn’t mean it. I’m really sorry. I can’t even believe I said that. I can’t believe how mad I was. I don’t know who that screaming angry crazy girl is. I’m never like that, I promise. Please forgive me?”
“Shhhhh, honey, of course I do,” came the reply.
What if I’d have had a waiting period on those words? Would I have ever said “I HATE YOU?” to a person that I love? What if guns were in my personal muscle memory? Would I have been desperate enough to use one, in the moment?
Wounded enough, inside, to kill a fellow human?
What if there were a better waiting period on words and on guns?
I think about guns. I think about how guns kill people.
I don’t know what the answer is when it comes to lessening the violence caused by guns in this country but I do know that the answer is not “guns don’t kill people; people kill people.”
Killing a building full of students doesn’t happen easily with a knife, or a shotgun that must be cocked and reloaded. Heading to an ex-girlfriend’s house to kill her new boyfriend and then yourself with a gun purchased that morning is preventable.
Guns kill people. People use them to do so, because it’s a hell of a lot easier to kill a building full of young students with a gun than it is with a knife, or with fists.
The time is now, people. It’s time to speak out. To say that we, as parents, as humans, have had enough. My six-year-old knows what a lock-down drill is.
The Right To Bear Arms was created in different times. We’ve evolved. It’s time to know that if Evil enters your home, or your life, Evil is more prepared to kill you and yours than you are prepared to kill it. With, or without, a gun.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. Today’s sentence is “Now, people…” although I told my friend Kerri that I’d write about gun violence. It’s time, already. However, if you’d like to join, and prefer to NOT write about guns, or violence, we’d love to have you. Because really, love wins. Always.
Also? It’s Time to Talk about Gun Violence.