by Shawnee Baldwin
GK Chesterton said, “It isn’t that they can’t see the solution. It is that they can’t see the problem.”
Close your eyes.
Imagine 26 shoes of various sizes, mostly very small, lined up in the hallways outside your office door. They are drenched in blood and dotted with bits of skin, bone, and hair. Now imagine that line of shoes multiplying and filling every stairwell in the Capitol building. Imagine empty shoes lining the road that leads to your home.
Imagine 7000 pairs of empty children’s shoes on the lawn of the US Capitol, which grief-stricken gun control citizens actually did in yet another effort to wake us to this horror.
Imagine the shouts of joy and laughter that used to emanate from those shoes that have been silenced by a gun that could, should, have been locked up. Imagine the faces of the absent shoe owners morphing into the faces of your family and friends. Imagine the pain, grief, hatred, rage, and sorrow you carry in your empty heart – for their absence, or impairment, and when you find out the murder or injury could have been prevented by sensible gun reform.
Now imagine yourself in a pair of those shoes. Are you ready to die from a gun that was not locked up, was stolen, or is being used in a moment of rage? Are you ready to die from a ghost gun assembled under the radar of current gun laws? Are you ready to die because we refuse to legislate basic gun reform for all gunowners? Are you ready to stop this public health crisis?
How long will we debate this issue? How many more men, women, and children must die before we do more than offer “thoughts and prayers”? How many more people will suffer mental health issues from close contact with the victims, forced lock down drills in schools, or horrific crime scene images that can’t be unseen.
The numbers on the bills of gun reform will change every time they are raised in the chambers of our legislatures. These numbers mean nothing to victim’s families. How long will parents mourn another day without their child taken by gun violence? The arguments for Second Amendment rights will be dragged out – overshadowing all other amendments and negating our supposed “unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness“? How long will we let NRA lobbyists’ money and influence drown out the cries of victims, their families, and those tasked with cleaning up the mess?
Please – strengthen gun storage laws.
Please – close the loopholes on ghost guns.
Please – remove access to guns from those who may be a danger to themselves or others.
The sight of bloodied shoes still haunts me and I was not even there that day. The images from December 14, 2012 still induce grief. Newtown parents recalling the day picks a scab off a wound that wasn’t even inflicted on me. And this is just one of many gun violence incidents plaguing our country. Guns only have one purpose – to maim, kill, or forever horribly alter the life of another. They must be regulated far more than they are now.
When you allow yourself to see the magnitude of this problem, the solution comes clear.
What will you do now?
Shawnee Baldwin, mother, grandmother, works with elementary school children and helps organize youth gun control rallies.