Having a Baby in the Age of Mass Shootings

There have been 30 mass shootings in the United States so far in 2018. The year is not yet seven weeks old. If we continue at this pace, we’ll see 193 more mass shootings before the end of the year.

I am expecting my first (and given my age, likely only) baby. She currently weighs three pounds, seven ounces. Her tiny keister is snuggled under my ribs. She likes spicy food and anything that makes me laugh. She moves constantly, kicking and wriggling and waving her arms and legs. She’ll quiet down if her dad whispers to her and strokes my belly.

She is everything to us. And someday, someone might kill her.

I’m crying as I write this, obviously. It feels like a crime for a mother to even contemplate someone killing her child.

But I have to, because we live in a country where the gun lobbyists won’t part with a nickel to save a child’s life, even though a child’s life is everything – and they know it. Many of the members of the NRA and their tame lawmakers in Congress have children and grandchildren. I cannot hold these conflicting facts in my head.

It’s not that they won’t ban assault weapons. It’s that they won’t let the CDC even study the public health effects of gun violence. It’s not that they won’t close the gun show loophole or even try to create better background checks. It’s that they weaponize racism, xenophobia and fear to sell guns.

In fact, no matter what you think the solution is – banning all guns or some guns or no guns – the fact is that the NRA is not on your side. They’re only on your side if you increase their “surplus.”

They’re snake oil salesmen: They’ve invented a disease and they’re selling us a cure. And the worst part is that most Americans disagree with their policies, but that won’t stop them, because they’ve bought themselves legislators who now care more about donors than voters.

That’s a mistake, because voters can change this, even if the donors don’t like it.

You can start today. Here is an interactive chart of every Senator and Representative who has taken money from the NRA since 1998. Call them and tell them that this is unacceptable. And then, when they placate you and take the cash, don’t vote for them again.

We can change this, but it won’t be easy. Of course, nothing worthwhile is. But I believe that most people want their children to be safe at school and their families to be safe at their church, temple, or mosque. I think most of us want to be able to go to the movies or an outdoor concert without worrying about a mass shooter opening fire on the crowd.

Start today. Start right now. Say that this is unacceptable and beyond that, we won’t accept it.

We don’t need to imagine the unimaginable – we’re doing that already. We just need to imagine a world where children’s lives matter more than the gun industry’s profits.

Image: Varshesh Joshi/Unsplash