Clamp on your holsters, people. This is my new gun safety rant. It’s gonna be a little like target practice.
My hairstylist has a daughter who’s a high school senior, and like many parents of graduating students, they’re starting to visit college campuses. I was excited for her, so I listened while Molly (not her real name) talked and stirred the colors she’d be using to cover up my hideous gray. She said she’d already gone on one campus tour and liked the school because it’s close to some of her family.
That school, like her other prospects, was here in Texas. It’s fun to talk to your hairstylist while she applies color and foils. I call it free therapy. I shared the story about the latest accidental discharge of a handgun in a Texas A&M dorm. I had to reach for some dark humor. “I wonder if they’re going to start putting safe gun storage boxes in the dorm rooms?” We laughed, but afterwards Molly replied, “I’m going to find out what they’re doing at my next school visit.”
Texas schools, like a lot of universities, have too little control over who carries a gun in the classrooms or the dorms. That sounds risky. While she’s applying those foils, Molly and I ramble on. That’s when I learn her lease agreement has a new clause. Molly shows it to me. “You’re not going to believe it, but I had to sign it yesterday,” she says. For the first time in the lease, there’s a clause to protect the landlord when a shooting happens in the salon building.
I am shocked. This is college and haircutting we’re talking about. Not places where we’re used to thinking about gunplay, or even accidents like the one that killed my son. When guns become our individual safety crisis, we’ve lost control over murders. Accidents happen, too. Fewer will happen once we protect our safety.
People start to call this gun control, but my family owns guns. We don’t think of it like control. We want the NRA to think of it like safety, too. I’m trying to figure out how we bring them to the table to talk about this—and use their big influence in politics to make everybody safer. Even gun owners.
Without that influence, my hairdresser probably has to start packing a weapon to cut my hair. Shit! That’s a trim that’s a little too close to the bulls eye. There are people who believe having a gun everywhere makes them feel safer, but isn’t that really a statement about fear? Inside of that thinking, everyone is a potential killer, so let’s all arm ourselves. What happened to love thy neighbor?
So, I have to ask…
NRA, WHAT’S IT GOING TO TAKE TO GET YOU WITHIN RANGE OF A CONVERSATION ABOUT SAFETY?
Because I don’t want to carry my own gun to a salon appointment.
After my salon visit, I learned the US military can’t do its job, at the moment, to track dangerous ex-soldiers so they can’t put everybody at risk. Everybody right down to people praying on a Sunday. In Texas.
In these days when the bad news for gun safety is everywhere, Molly and I came up with a list of questions she’s going to ask at her next campus visit. It’s such a good idea, I going to call my son Keaton’s campus and ask them, too. I hope you’ll take them to your legislator, mayor — and especially to your college campus administrators. Laws take a while to hammer out. The safety of students in a college community is something that can happen a lot faster.
- If the military can fail to keep proper records, what guarantees do we have about college campuses?
- What is the plan to prevent this from happening on our college campuses?
- How are they keeping records of ownership, licenses and background checks?
- Will dorms now be installing safe gun storage units?
- What happens if a gun is stolen, or someone else holds it and it misfires?
- Will enrollment forms need new language, like the lease Molly signed, so the colleges won’t be held liable when a shooting happens?
After all of that, I have to take a breath. My thoughts are with those who have been forever affected by the latest shootings. My prayers, though, are for better ways to make gun safety more permanent than a hair coloring. I think about the moment when a gun changed my family’s life. There’s a way to make all of our lives safer—whether in a college town in a rent house, or inside a classroom. We need to insist that our schools hit that target.