No More Lives Lost to Gun Violence

Like most parents, I am living in fear. I was in high school when Columbine happened. My daughter was in kindergarten during Sandyhook. These school shootings have marked and tainted my years as a mother. Each day, I make sure that I tell them I love them before they leave for the bus because deep down I know there is a very real chance that I will never see them alive again.

Every time I go to the movies I make sure we sit somewhere close to an exit, just in case. I run scenarios in my head about how I can throw myself over my kids if I hear guns firing. Every time I go to church I think about how I will be able to get myself and my kids out of there alive if someone, for some reason, decides they have scores to settle.

This is no way to live. We need to change the way our society thinks about protecting itself from people who murder us with guns. This is not about the second amendment. It is about irresponsible gun owners. Most people who own guns are in favor of trying to make our schools and churches and movie theaters safer. But because of the greed of the gun manufacturers, the greed of the NRA, and the power of legislators bought and paid for by both, we as a nation are held hostage.

We should be protected from irresponsible gun owners the same way we are protected from irresponsible car owners. Cars and driving used to be a lot more dangerous than they are today, but we put protections in place, such as seatbelts and speed limits. We determined, collectively, that a certain knowledge base and level of proficiency was necessary if we were going to keep our roads safe.

We can protect ourselves by focusing on the root of the problem. Most of the people who commit these mass murders are overwhelmingly men who 1) have access to massive amounts of guns and ammunition, 2) feel they have been wronged by society, and 3) want to settle the score with violence.

Stopping this is less complicated than the NRA would have you believe. We need to enforce universal background checks, while expanding these background checks to incorporate searches for the patterns of behaviors that we see premeditating so many of these horrible events -- including the abuse of women and children. The NRA will fight these changes, and all attempts at protections for our families, tooth and nail. But if we want to stop the mass shootings, we must nevertheless persist.

I am tired of living in fear. I am unwilling to give my life and my children’s lives so that the manufacturers of guns in this country can make more money. I refuse to send any more thoughts and prayers. The only acceptable answer is policy change. We must elect people who are not in the pocket of the NRA who are willing to stand up and say no more.

Adrienne Pickett