Do More

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Dear Governor Mike Dewine,

These people are dead:

Lois L. Oglesby (27 yrs)

Megan K. Betts (22)

Saeed Saleh (38)

Derrick R. Fudge (57)

Logan M. Turner (30)

Nicholas P. Cumer (25)

Thomas J. McNichols (25)

Monica E. Brickhouse (39)

Beatrice N. Warren-Curtis (36)

I care.  Do you??

From our bed in a hotel in Paris I watched this the morning of Monday, August 5th with chills and crying uncontrollably.  We had been on vacation for more than a week and hadn’t turned on a television until this point.

Early Sunday afternoon we were standing inside Place Charles de Gaulle in awe of the Arc de Triomphe when my boyfriend said, “Oh no” after taking out his phone to snap photos.  He shared that there was a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas.

Torn between the desensitized feeling of just wanting to be in the moment and wanting to know the details, I chose the former.  I took a deep breath and focused on what was in front of me.

Minutes later he said there was also a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio.  My heart started pounding in my chest.  My hands started sweating.  I left my kids in Columbus, Ohio for the first time ever and now an ocean away I felt completely helpless and in distress.  I knew that they were safe, but when these things happen your protective instincts spike and you just want to hold your children.

Ironically, as we approached the Arc de Triomphe and snapped photos from the sidewalk outside of Place Charles de Gaulle (the traffic circle around the arc), I had an overwhelming sense of caution.  I tried to suppress these feelings but experienced them around every tourist attraction in Paris and in the Metro fearing a potential terror attack.

A few days later we arrived back in Columbus and hit the ground running.  Life goes on, right?  Another mass shooting, another day.  Vigils are held.  Politicians send their “thoughts and prayers”.  But everyone who was not directly impacted has to go on about paying their bills, raising their children, etc., and nothing ever changes.  Until now…

Yesterday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed an executive order establishing the Ohio School Safety Center.  The Safety Center employs seven people who start today!  Here are some of the bullet points:

  • scan social media for threatening posts
  • a helpline (844-723-3764)
  • a website
  • review school safety plans
  • establish threat assessment policy
  • annual summit
  • bring in professionals with up-to-date school safety protocols

Thank you Governor Mike DeWine.  This along with your 17 point proposal is at least something I suppose.  But something isn’t enough.  DO MORE!

Nowhere in this plan is there a proposal to ban assault weapons nor high capacity magazines.  According to a Fox News poll released yesterday, two thirds of Americans favor a ban on assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons.  Seven U.S. states currently have assault weapons bans.

Why can’t we join them?  WHY, Governor Mike DeWine, can’t you and the Ohio General Assembly attack this issue with the same tenacity as you did the Heartbeat Bill?

Sickened by this latest and pathetic attempt to “do something”, I turned off the news after seeing the executive order announcement.  I cancelled my plans for the evening and drove to Lowe’s where I purchased nine stakes, one for each of the victims.

As I pulled them out of the bin one by one the gravity of their significance hit me.  I counted in my head…one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine.  Then again as I scanned each one in the self checkout line…one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine.  Then again as i hammered each one into the ground when I got home…one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine.  Then again as I painted each one white I imagined that stake represented my friend, my sibling, my parent, my child…one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine.

I went inside to let them dry and looked up the names of the victims.  As I wrote a list I read each of their short biographies in full for the first time.  My sadness deepened with each biography I read.  The majority of victims were the same age as myself and my younger siblings.  Teejay McNichols was a father of four, two boys, two girls ages two to eight.  I am a mother of four, two boys, two girls ages two to nine.

It’s scary how desensitized we’ve all become.  But when it literally hits this close to home and you can relate to all of the victims and their survivors it becomes so much more real.  Like when my oldest child was in kindergarten when the Sandy Hook (27 dead) shooting happened.  But that doesn’t mean we forget about Las Vegas (58 dead), Orlando (49 dead), Charleston (26 dead), or El Paso (22 dead) which happened less than 15 hours before Dayton, or any of the countless others…Parkland (17 dead), Pittsburgh (11 dead), just some of the deadliest and most recent.

And since on the topic of time, the Dayton gunman shot 26 people in 32 seconds killing nine.  So to those who would argue that mass casualties are caused by anything under the sun OTHER than an assault weapon or high capacity magazine, please do this:

Imagine you have a party and invite your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, everyone with whom you love and/or interact with regularly.  From the sky will drop two mentally unstable (because at the VERY least we can all agree that no sane person commits mass murder) people in close proximity to your party.  One will have a machete and one will have an assault rifle with a high capacity magazine.  Don’t worry, the police will be there in less than a minute.  You can make one of those disappear.  Pick one.

Here’s where all the second amendment and CCW people chime in.  “If someone at the party is packing, they can lessen the carnage.”  Really?  Is that what we’re looking to do, lessen the carnage??  The thing is, not many people are “packing” when they go to school, or a church, or a synagogue, or a night club, or a concert.  The new norm of mass shootings shouldn’t escalate the general public’s new norm to have to carry a weapon to pick up a gallon of milk much less while they’re teaching or praying.

That being said, I want all of the people who oppose an assault weapon and a high capacity magazine ban (which apparently is only 1/3 of Americans) to imagine this instead.  You’re not at a party, but at a concert with your closest friends and family.  Imagine you have your Glock so you can protect your loved ones, be the hero, and take out the mass murderer.

Let’s take it a step further.  Since this is hypothetical, we can make up whatever scenario we want.

Let’s give every single person at the concert a Glock.  Now let’s drop two mentally unstable people at the same distance away as the Las Vegas shooter, 1,100 feet (that’s more than three football fields).   This time one has the same weapon as you and the other has whatever weapon(s) the Vegas shooter had (whose calibers ranged from .223 to .308 with a range of 9,030 ft to 14,385 ft).  You can make one of those disappear.  A Glock has an effective firing range of (correct me if I’m wrong) 165 feet.  Now what?

No assault weapons ban?  The shooter just took out your sister.  You fire your Glock at nothing because you can’t even come close to him.  He takes out your best friend since childhood.  Again, you and then everyone else fire at nothing.  Sorry, your neighbor and then a co-worker are taken out.  Was it by friendly fire or the shooter?

No high capacity magazine ban?  Over the next ten minutes he takes out 54 more people, one of which is your adult son.  Now what?

You survived.  Your co-worker, neighbor, sister, and son are dead.  HOW CLOSE TO HOME MUST IT HIT?  What will it take for the people of this country to be as sad I am about the loss of innocent life and simultaneously as enraged as  I am at the lack of action by our legislators to actually fucking do something?

That’s the problem though, isn’t it?  We don’t know what to do.  I don’t know what to do.  I know that in this moment my body physically hurts because of the sadness and anger I have inside.  It’s stuffed deep inside because I, like everyone else, have to go on about my day.  I have to give kids baths, pack lunches, wash clothes, pay bills, smile and pretend to be normal while inside I’m screaming, “DO MORE!!!!!!

Someone PLEASE tell me what to do.  This word vomit that is my blog, purging these feelings before I explode is changing nothing.  Me placing stakes in my yard with the Dayton victims’ names is doing nothing.  Governor Mike DeWine’s 17 point proposal and School Safety Center are doing nothing.

I truly believe that “common sense” bans of which 2/3 of the country are in favor won’t completely resolve our mass shooting epidemic, but it sure as fuck will do more than our politicians’ “thoughts and prayers”.