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So many memories…
I remember the bubbling, crackling and popping of beer being poured as I intently watched the introduction video in the Miller Valley Auditorium. The free daily brewery tours were an attraction my siblings and I couldn’t resist. After all, it was free and we got to drink soda at the end, something our family could rarely afford. It was a small slice of heaven that we sought joy in at least once every summer but often twice or more.
Today, that slice of my childhood was the site of more violence in a city that already sees far more than its fair share. I know talking about gun control can feel old and tiring, but lives are being annihilated. We’re getting used to these major gun violence events and yes, they are becoming more terrifying and commonplace. People – regular, hard working people – are dying because we feel like our right to bear arms outweighs the rights of people to live.
Why this individual shooter chose this day doesn’t matter. We’ve learned all the motives. Racism, fear, bigotry, rage, hate, inability to cope. Have knowing the motives made us safer? Motives make us try to understand but they don’t change the substance of the matter. Guns kill.
The first mass shooting I remember vividly happened when I was 17 years old. I was sitting in history class typing notes when a notification popped up on my screen. Active shooting at a school. I spoke up, telling the class what was going on. For the next few hours, I constantly checked my phone, shaking and terrified. Murders were happening at children’s schools just like mine.
This isn’t the first mass shooting in the Milwaukee area. We were the site of the Oak Creek Sikh Temple massacre in 2012. We’ve seen hatred, violence and so much death. We’ve protested, voted, written and shouted, begging for an end to gun violence. Our cries have fallen on dead ears.
My people have been murdered in synagogues and churches. My queer family in a nightclub. Where is it safe to be human? Where can’t guns reach?
A constitutional right
Yes, the right to bear arms is enshrined in the constitution. So was slavery, bigotry and other “rights” we don’t believe in. Women couldn’t vote. Guns have no place in our society. It’s time we give up this right and earn the right to peace, life and community. Sensible people must understand that the right to life far outweighs the right to carry a weapon.
The world I envision…
I believe in a world where my siblings and I can go to Miller Valley again and enjoy the free tour. Maybe even indulge in an adult beverage now that we are old enough to. In peace. Without fear. I believe in a world where children, teens, adults and the elderly can enjoy a concert or a movie; can struggle their way through a work day or school day without fear of gun violence.
Can you see this world? What will you do to make it happen? Will you give up your right to have a gun so CHILDREN can live and flourish? I’d give up anything for a world like that. Will you?