By Laurie Nerat, December 1, 2017
For me it’s not a debate – it is very personal.
Our past experiences can often influence our emotions and reactions, and this has never been more apparent than the past few weeks. Like most Americans I was horrified, saddened and angered by the recent mass shootings in Texas and Las Vegas. They immediately brought back memories of Columbine, Sandy Hook, Tucson, Aurora and so many other similar events. The harsh reality is that these events have become almost commonplace in our society. For me however, these shootings also bring back very personal memories; a gun changed my life.
In the past few weeks I have experienced such a strong reaction to the video footage of the shooting, the individuals who survived, and the family members of those who lost someone. I didn’t realize how much this was actually affecting me until I had a fight with my husband about absolutely nothing. We rarely fight so I knew something was wrong. I realized that I was internalizing so much of the anger that I felt. Comments on social media and renewed interest in the “gun control” debate simply added to an internal anger that began to boil over, causing the silly argument. Every time I read a Facebook comment that supports the use of guns I want to scream. Here is the reality – GUNS KILL PEOPLE. The idea that people need guns for self-defense is just plain hogwash.
I was married to someone who was a ‘responsible’ gun owner. He used guns for hunting. He also had guns because he thought they were cool. He learned this gun culture from his family. They gave him a brand new Magnum 44 for his college graduation gift. He owned pistols, a shotgun and a rifle. I didn’t really understand his obsession with guns, and I was extremely nervous about having guns in the house when our daughters were born, but he assured me that the guns were kept unloaded in a safe place so the girls would not have access to them. He even signed our daughter up for a gun safety class when she was 10 years old. Guns were a part of my life, and yes I even went out and shot a gun with him once or twice, but I never had an appreciation for them that he did. To me they were, and still very much are lethal weapons designed to kill.
But here is the main thing about guns, when people have guns they can and often do use them, but not in the way most gun advocates will tell you. They rarely every actually use them in self-defense – they use them to kill other people or they use them to kill themselves. This is not just my opinion, or my personal experience – the statistics back this up.
For every person who uses a gun in self-defense, the research finds, nearly six people use a gun to commit a crime.
Another study found that for every time a gun is used in self-defense in the home, there are 7 assaults or murders, 11 suicide attempts, and 4 accidents involving guns in or around a home.
States with higher gun ownership rates have higher gun murder rates—as much as 114 percent higher than states with lower gun ownership rates.
Las Vegas brought the gun issue back into the news because of a mass shooting, but here is the reality; Mass shootings stopped by armed civilians in the past 33 years: 0
For women the numbers are even more staggering. Guns are not being used as self defense for women. In 2013, more than 5 times more women were shot by husbands, boyfriends, and ex-partners than murdered by male strangers. A woman’s chances of being killed by her abuser increase more than 5 times if he has access to a gun.
Now lets talk about suicide. About half of all suicides are committed with guns, and seven in 10 by men, who also account for 74% of gun owners in the country. On average they own 7.9 guns each.
For me this issue is very personal, my husband, the responsible gun owner, committed suicide when he shot himself with one of his guns. If he did not have those guns would he be here today? I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that I am sick and tired of a small minority of Americans and a very well funded lobbying effort that are controlling gun laws in this country.
Pew researchers found that 83% of Americans said they consider gun violence in the US a big problem — including 50% who called it “a very big problem. 68% of Americans told Pew researchers that they favor a ban on assault-style weapons, and 64% favor banning high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, yet Congress continues to be paralyzed on the issue.
Access to weapons can and must be regulated better than it is right now. As much as 40 percent of all gun sales involve private sellers and don’t require background checks. In a survey, 40 percent of prison inmates who used guns in their crimes said they’d gotten them this way. More than 80 percent of gun owners support closing this loophole.
I realized these past few weeks that the issue of guns and gun control is very emotional for me. I am angry that we keep allowing a false narrative to control the conversation. We need to remember that despite all of the rhetoric and arguing, the sad truth is that guns kill people; they kill a lot of people, and the longer we ignore this basic truth the more people will die. Events like Las Vegas will continue to happen until we finally decide to do something different.
This month I will have the pleasure of hearing Former Congresswoman Gabby Gifford and her husband, Captain Mark Kelly at the Maricopa County Democrat Winter Convention. I am excited to hear what they have to say. After a gunman nearly took her life, Gabby and her husband began an organization called “Americans for Responsible Solutions,” a group dedicated to reforming gun laws and reducing violence. Gabby Gifford is doing something, she is fighting back against gun violence and advocating for common sense gun laws. We need more leaders like Gabby who will stand up against gun violence.
Follow the links below for more information. Thank you!
Gun Myths Debunked
Why the CDC no longer collects data on gun-related violence