It’s been a year since the Sandy Hook shooting and gun owners are more paranoid than ever.  The NRA has succeeded in getting gun owners to believe that Obama and the liberals are coming for their guns, that the government is coming for their second amendment rights, and that since they’re the good guys with guns, that they need more guns in case the bad guys with guns come for them, too.

It’s impossible, in today’s political climate, with so many paranoid gun owners, to have a logical, rational conversation about the epidemic of gun violence in this country.  A simple invitation to come to the table to talk reasonably about this puts too many on the defensive.  Even people I know who usually display a decent amount of common sense about most things unwittingly start spewing NRA talking points if they feel the slightest bit threatened or judged. 

People are so polarized on this issue that they jump to extremes whenever the subject of gun legislation comes up.  If we can’t eradicate all school shootings then we shouldn’t even try.  Criminals don’t follow laws so don’t even bother making any.  Mentally ill people commit mass shootings so don’t punish us.  The Second Amendment means whatever I say it means.  If you want to feel safer, then everybody should have guns.

No wonder people in other countries think we’re nuts.  We are!

After the Sandy Hook shooting I decided I couldn’t, in good conscience, sit back and watch the insanity play out before me.  I had to take a stand.  I joined the local chapter of the Brady Campaign and started educating myself about the history of the NRA and gun violence in our society. 

I wrote about my disgust in my blog on a local arts website.  The blog posted late in the evening and when I awoke early the next morning, I was shocked to see how many hits it had gotten during the middle of the night.  Even more shocking were the comments.  They weren’t comments made by art lovers and regular readers of the website.  They were comments made by the NRA machine, the gun nut trolls who work 24-7 to find anything they can online about gun control and then attack.  They are well organized, very strategic, plentiful.  And they’re scary.  One of them posted, “Watch out Spike, the gun nuts are watching you”. 

I soon learned that the soldiers for the gun lobby are so well organized that they infiltrate gun control groups and pretend to be sympathetic to the cause and then reveal their true selves and intentions at a time when they can be most disruptive or damaging. 

The new grassroots organization, Moms Demand Action, a group of mothers and fathers who organized themselves after Sandy Hook to put serious pressure on legislators to write common sense gun laws, has been hunted down, stalked, and bullied in an attempt to intimidate them.  The founder of the group (a mother of five) and her children get regular death threats. 

“Open Carry Advocates” showed up in a restaurant parking lot in Dallas, Texas last month where a few moms from the local chapter were inside having lunch.  They came armed.  They crouched down in a hunters’ stance to intimidate the group of unarmed moms.  They frightened them, that’s for sure.  Who wouldn’t’ be afraid of a group of armed thugs standing outside the window of the restaurant you’re eating in, pointing their guns at you?  They got a lot of media attention but ended up  making complete asses out of themselves and unwittingly, they made asses out of all gun owners.  The message?  Gun owners are stupid.

I’ve met a lot of people in the past year who have either been shot or are close to someone who has been shot. It’s heartbreaking.  Even more heartbreaking is how defiant and insensitive those who defend gun ownership are to the sufferings of others.  They’re so focused on themselves and what they believe their God given rights are, that they are indifferent to the rights of the rest of us want to feel safe without arming ourselves.

I’ve never been shot, and nobody in my family has ever been shot.  But I’ve come close, without realizing it at the time.  I was a kid, snooping around in my mom’s room when she wasn’t home.  I found a gun in a drawer in the bed stand, in what looked like a gift box, not a gun safe.  I opened it and was very curious about what I had just found.  I didn’t take it out of the box.  I don’t know why.   What would have happened if I had? 

My stepfather had hunting rifles.  His pride and joy was the elk that he shot, its head  majestically mounted above the stairs.  Creepy?  Ya, but not at all uncommon in the Rocky Mountains where I lived.  John Hinckley, the man who shot President Reagan, lived within walking distance from us in those mountains.  When his father asked him what would have stopped him from doing what he did, he told his dad that he probably wouldn’t have done it if it had been harder to obtain a gun. 

Six degrees of separation –I found a gun in my home as a kid and John Hinckley was a neighbor.   I’m sure I could think of four more, but I don’t want to.  The very idea makes me sick.

I’ve lived in LA now for 26 years. I feel safe here.  Why?  Because we have strict gun laws.  Sadly, we have urban crimes such as drive by shootings, gang violence, and armed robbery.  What we don’t have are wanna be Rambos who arm themselves and stand outside of restaurants to intimidate moms like me, or yahoos on every block who leave loaded guns lying around with kids in the house cuz it’s their God given right.  

It seems like my home state of Colorado is one of the craziest states when it comes to guns.  Colorado is home to John Hinckley, Columbine, and the Arvada theatre shooting.  It is also the state where two state legislators who had the guts to confront this issue were recalled in September, and most recently a mom from Weld County (one of the counties that wanted to secede from the state in the last election) was arrested for the death of her three year old son who accidentally shot himself in the head after he discovered a loaded gun in the house while she left him home alone. 

Arresting this mother was a good thing.  It means she’s not blameless.  She is being charged with a crime, as well she should be.  The public need not pity her or excuse her negligence, passing this tragedy off with the attitude that she’s “already suffered enough”, as if she, too, was a victim. Yet, this is exactly how we treat parents whose negligence has led to the death of their own children.   Children shooting themselves in their own homes should never happen.  We need stricter laws.

Even though California has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, that hasn’t deterred me from sitting down with my Congressman to talk about these issues.  It hasn’t deterred me from chairing a committee at my church about gun violence, it hasn’t stopped me from speaking out and writing blogs like this, even though I know the gun nuts are going to find this as soon as it posts and will threaten me, and it hasn’t kept me from hitting the streets to rally for the cause.

This Saturday, there will be many different vigils throughout the country to commemorate the victims of Sandy Hook, the 26 school shootings that have happened since then, and the 30,000 people who have died from gun violence since then.   To find out where one is scheduled near you, check out this link. 

Past MOMocrats blog where I lay out 11 reasons why we need common sense gun legislation