#WearOrange: June 2nd and 3rd.
I’ve never gone to a rally of any kind in my life, nor do I consider myself an activist. Then I received a text from Everytown for Gun Safety. I felt compelled to act.
I clicked on the #WearOrange link and found that there was an event coming up in my hometown of Austin. I studied the page, and began to sign up. I fill in boxes, entering my name, address and phone number. I was ready to submit. Then I squirmed in my seat. Do I really want to do this? Am I really ready to support an anti-gun organization?
I closed the page.
Before signing I wanted to learn more. I went to the Everytown homepage, read their agenda. They support background checks and want to prohibit domestic violence abusers from obtaining firearms. Okay, I can agree with that. They also want to strengthen penalties for gun traffickers, plus help pass laws to require safe storage of firearms in hopes of preventing accidental deaths. I sit at the website and remember my own story about accidental gun death.
Penalties, laws, check and check. When I first signed up to receive Everytown texts, preventing gun accidents was the main reason. I believe Jon would be alive today if people were responsible and could be held accountable for storing guns safely.
I wonder if that’s cause enough to be attending the rally, though. I decided to submit the form. But afterward I had second thoughts, wondering how many of the people attending will be gun owners, or how many will have a son like my younger son Lance—a boy who collects guns and supports the Second Amendment.
As I’m thinking about this Lance walks in the door, followed by my younger son Keaton. It’s Memorial Day. Sure, it’s a holiday to honor people killed in action. I wonder if there’s ever going to be a day like that to honor gun violence victims.
Maybe that day is coming after the tragedy at Sandy Hook. On that day I sat glued to the television watching young mothers sob over the loss of their children. I tried to fathom what was happening, but I felt the loss for my son all over again. He died at the hand of a gun, an accident that was ruled a suicide, a ruling that was a mistake. Jon had been gone three years when Sandy Hook hit us all. I couldn’t block out the images of those mothers and their pain on that day. Children should outlive their parents.
My first impulse after Sandy Hook was to write President Obama. What I received back looked more like a fan mail reply, and so that waste of letterhead ended up in my trashcan. It became one more thing to change my values, though. I believe in the safety that police and deputies must ensure, belief in a compassionate God. The tragedy at the school on that day sparked me, as well as a lot more people. We can’t count on anyone in power to do everything that matters. We must rely on ourselves, working together. Otherwise, like I did, we’ll get the auto-reply of the Sandy Hook Response Letter.
After Sandy Hook I did some research, trying to figure out who could speak for me, or just with me. In those months after Jon’s death I hated guns. I wanted them all confiscated, destroyed and melted down to a disposable liquid. I lost my son to the recklessness of a gun owner.
But my hatred for guns subsided when Lance announced his desire to collect guns. Guns are a part of our culture. Even with what happened to Jon, I will always be a mother of three. All three of my boys grew up in our home of guns—cap guns, BB guns, paintball guns, air-soft guns, and hunting guns. One of them now collects firearms.
I asked my new collector to wear his orange this week. My box of Everytown shirts is on my doorstep today. Lance said he’s glad to wear a shirt, because he’s a gun owner with a sharp eye for safety who knows the bulls-eye is responsibility. He may not join me at this weekend’s #WearOrange rally. But he knows there’s more we all can do to end gun violence.