Letter to the editor: My feelings about Oxford

Joey Colby, Contributor

A wise and illustrious woman once stated that “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” The paralyzation by our legislatures from the act of domestic terrorism in Oxford bring these wise words from Audre Lorde to my mind. America is paralyzed by the epidemic of gun violence. It is estimated that three million American children are exposed to shootings each year. So what exactly is being done about it? Nothing of any legitimate purpose.

The Columbine High School shooting happened when I was in third grade. The tone deaf response from middle america was to blame video games, music and entertainment. The music of Rammstein, Marilyn Manson and the video game Doom were blamed. Once the question came up about firearms, conservatives screeched that any sort of regulation is an attempt at gun confiscation. This has been the typical run of the mill response. A domestic terrorist decides to go and shoot up his school (I say his, because nearly all school shootings are committed by males). After the violence, if the school was predominantly white or it was a college, there is a media frenzy and period of national mourning. The life of the terrorist is dissected by media pundits and there is an attempt at discovering what drove the person to violence. When the time comes to solutions about how the ordeal could have been prevented any attempt to discuss the firearm was met with screeching from conservatives.

That’s the cycle. If the school shootings happen in white suburbia or at a university, it’s a tragedy. Black and brown communities? Republicans wash their hands of the problem and blame “Democrat run cities.” Corporate media gets their ratings, pundits go off about the parents, video games, music and popular culture. The moment gun safety or legislation comes up, there is a collective screeching from conservatives. Right-wing nutjobs scream that any measure to curb gun violence is an attempt at confiscation or mass disarmament. The insane conspiracy of mass confiscation was once isolated to fringe conspiracy theory forums, it’s not anymore. It’s a common thought shared among conservatives, that somehow the government is going to come take their guns.

The screeching from conservatives and democrats constant taking of the moral high ground means nothing gets done. We’re back to thoughts and prayers. This is of course if we’re discussing white suburbia or universities. The gun violence that happens in urban communities is viewed as a black problem. Whether we want to have this conversation or not, I’m having it. White suburbia washes their hands of the gun violence in the inner city and organizations like the NRA use that violence as a marketing tool. Pundits in the corporate media love to point their fingers at Chicago’s Mayor Lightfoot and scream about democrat policies of gun control being the primary problem. The response from conservatives is to further deregulate firearm laws, in spite of increasing gun violence. The conservative response to gun violence can be summed up with how a popular conservative congresswomen followed and mocked survivors of school shootings with the myth that a “Good guy with a gun will stop a bad guy with a gun.”

The shooting at Virginia Tech happened when I was 17. We had an assembly and we were told how to feel and how to think. No one actually listened to us. That’s the same problem that we’ve had with every school shooting. We’re told how terrible and awful it is, but when it comes to solutions, we’re silenced. There has always been substantial hypocrisy and mixed messaging when it comes from American politicians. But the lack of viable solutions, harassment of survivors and literal middle finger given to us by conservatives is appearing intentional. It is almost as if the uniquely American epidemic of gun violence is being used to subjugate and crush the diminishing working class.

I take what Audre Lorde wrote in stride and I refuse to believe that the solution lies with begetting violence with violence. More guns isn’t going to fix gun violence.The concept of arming teachers and putting the responsibility of protecting children from domestic terrorists is insane. Teachers are already overworked, underpaid, understaffed and not given sufficient support. Where is the compassion? Where is the understanding? Where is the humanity? Gun violence in schools has become normalized. We’re subjecting American children to mass shooter and lockdown drills on a routine basis. What are the long term effects of this? Republicans in Congress are too busy attempting to stop a law which would prevent the destruction of firearm purchase records after 20 years. They are convinced that it will create a registry of firearm ownership which will result in confiscation.

This subjugation of the working class brings up a larger question, why isn’t America having periods of national mourning for all of the black and brown children who are subjected to gun violence? Eminem spoke about this in his 2000 song, The Way I Am.

“Middle America, now it’s a tragedy

Now it’s so sad to see, an upper-class city

Havin’ this happenin’”

Gun violence happens every day in black and brown communities. These communities have historically been ignored by many within the government. These communities have endured century-long effects of inequality and state sanctioned violence. Why aren’t we having national days of mourning for the gun violence committed against black and brown children? Why aren’t we trying to improve the medical infrastructure within these communities? Is having accessible mental health care for the children of these communities not also of the utmost importance?

The reality is that unless we are willing to stop accepting these tone deaf responses and taking the moral high ground, gun violence will not stop. We have to march and we have to protest. I as an older millennial remember the tone deaf response to Columbine and Virginia Tech. I do not want that for this younger generation. They deserve so much better than that. There is no reason for our youth and children to carry this burden and trauma. The legislators who represent us have failed, we see that in how they continuously attempt to kill Roe. We have the power to make our voices heard. I am inspired by the strength, resilience and innovation of Generation Z.

It falls unto us. It is unfair and it is cruel, but we are the ones that have to challenge the gun lobby. The NRA and conservatives have shown that they are apathetic to gun violence in our schools. They argue ad nauseam that gun free zones are the problem. They want our underfunded and depleted public education systems to have armed teachers and to become centers of authoritarianism. They want more guns in schools because the gun industry wants to sell more guns. If we’re going to tackle gun violence, we need to demand that the proper agencies receive more funding. We need to demand that gun safety legislation be passed.

Our schools shouldn’t have to have metal detectors in them. We shouldn’t have to have armed guards. We should not expect teachers to carry firearms and fight off school shooters. Children deserve to have a safe environment to learn in. It’s not an entitlement, it’s not a big ask. It’s their fundamental right and the time for debate on this issue has passed.

Conservative groups and the far-right will attempt to shift the conversation. One of the most common arguments is that of single mothers. That somehow children in single mother households are a contributing reason for school shootings. Conservatives and Men’s Rights Activists attempt to do this to further perpetuate the stigma against single mothers. The continued perpetuation that single mothers are any less capable or lesser parents is a widely disproven myth. Single parents are heroes. This myth is weaponized because it creates a classist caricature to be used against women. It is used to attempt to further dismantle the already broken welfare system in the United States.

There are viable solutions to gun violence in America that can be passed within a week. Mandate that all firearms are sold with a hardened plastic lockable gun case and trigger locks. Create liability laws for parents of juvenile school shooters. Make parents liable for the actions of their children. If their child commits an act of domestic terrorism, they can be liable and charged as an accessory. Let the CDC study the epidemic of gun violence in America. Demand legislation that will make mental healthcare accessible and affordable for all communities.

I know that the response to this article is that I am some anti-gun tree hugging liberal. I am not. I am a radical marxist feminist, who is a card carrying member of the Socialist Rifle Association. I am a gun owner and I enjoy hunting. Every season, I pistol hunt. I have rifles that I deer hunt with. I enjoy hunting and I enjoy target shooting. I’m not here arguing against gun ownership. I’m here arguing that gun violence in schools is a uniquely American phenomenon and we’re not doing nearly enough to challenge it. I’m arguing that the NRA and conservatives are apathetic addressing gun violence. I am of the belief that we can pass gun safety legislation and that we can prevent these shootings from happening.