#Enough National School Walkout

(Writing this quite late on Tuesday night. By the time you see it, this whole thing may be over. Hah!)

Will your kids be joining the walkout in the morning? If you haven’t heard about it, here are the basics:

– It’s called the #Enough National School Walkout.
– Thousands of students will be walking out of school at 10:00 AM local time.
– The walkouts will last 17 minutes to honor the 17 students killed at the recent school shooting in Florida.
– The aim of the walkout is to raise awareness about issues of school safety and the impact of gun violence.

Lots of parents have been talking about the walkouts on social media today. Some schools are trying to shut down the walkout. Others are hoping to pivot the event from a walkout to an assembly about kindness. No surprise, our Oakland schools are openly supportive of it.

Olive, my high-schooler, is in Paris this week and can’t participate, but both of my middle schoolers — Oscar and Betty — will be walking out. As will the vast majority of their classmates (possible every single one). There are a few staff members who have volunteered to stay in the building with any kids who don’t want to participate in the walkout, but most of the faculty and staff will be joining in.

Oscar made a cool banner that says #ENOUGH. I’ll try to share a snap of it on Instagram Stories. (Find the cool #ENOUGH button above on Etsy.) 

What’s happening at your school? Are your kids aware of the walkout? Will they be participating? Are teachers and administrators stressed out? How do you feel about it? 

I keep thinking of the eagerness of citizens to participate here in Oakland — a city with a long history of gun violence. If the people here, many of whom have been affected by gun violence in personal ways, think this is an important walkout, and that new laws to prevent gun violence are sorely needed, why wouldn’t we believe them?

In the mood for more discussion on gun violence? Here’s a post discussing what protecting your family looks like to different people. And here’s one predicting an outright ban.

The Ban post has had a bit of an extended life — Ben Blair shared it on Facebook and ended up having indepth conversations about it over a full week. It was also shared widely on a social site called Quora, and I’m still getting really offensive comments on the original post daily (comments from Quora users). The deep and unabashed misogyny in the comments is so disturbing. I stopped responding and just delete them as soon as I see them.

In my own conversations, on the Design Mom Facebook page and in real life, I’m mostly focused on the idea of responsible gun ownership. How we might define it; what it could look like if it was codified into law. I would say every gun owner I know in real life (and it’s a considerable number of people) believes they are a responsible gun owner. But they hold widely varying views on gun storage and training and gun safety. Which makes the term “responsible gun owner” pretty meaningless, you know?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the walkout, and on the whole current gun discussion. Is it just me, or is this the first time the news cycle hasn’t moved on after a gun massacre? Is anyone else hopeful we might see some real change this time?

P.S. — We also have the nationwide March For Our Lives on our calendar for March 24th. There are 730 marches happening all over the country (and more being added as they get organized). I’m tempted to head to D.C. for the March on the Capital.

86 thoughts on “#Enough National School Walkout”

  1. I’m ashamed that our generation did so little to protect our children when it came to sensible gun laws. I’m hopeful that our kids will be the change that this country needs. We’re in Oakland so my son will be participating in the walkout.

  2. My school aged kids are in elementary school (3rd and kinder) and their school has been passively supportive. In the weekly parents’ email from the principal last week there was a few lines about let us know if your kid is participating and teachers will help them get to the designated protest/walk out area. It wasn’t discussed with the kids so as a result only four in a school of about 350 k-5 kids are “signed up” to participate. Happy to say I doubled the number of participants with Facebook posts last night, HA. However, I am really disappointed in my community and the school for not supporting even the youngest students from participating. I had women tell me today my kids should be afraid of guns at school and these activities make their kids afraid of guns at school – whaaa? Can’t we be aware and active? I don’t know where I am going here. I just hope many kids of all ages participate in activities today and many days and change begins to happen for this generation. XO

    1. My son is in 3rd grade at a public magnet school in South Carolina. Their school has a large central gathering area, and for the seventeen minutes teachers were encouraged to bring the kids to the gathering area to have discussion and to write their feelings on big, rolled out pieces of paper. Teachers were given the option to participate – I imagine the Kindergarten classes may not have (as many of those kids might not be aware of what happened). But, I liked the approach and the opportunity for the students to talk and listen.

  3. This week is Spring Break for many of the larger districts in Texas. I wish the organizers would have chosen a different week so kids in Texas had a chance to participate.

    1. Today was the one-month anniversary of the Parkland shooting, which was the reason for choosing this week. There’s also the larger march on the 24th, and I’ve also heard some talk of a third protest on April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine shooting, but I haven’t seen much information about it lately.

  4. For some reason I thought the walk out was happening in April, so this is news to me! Thanks for sharing.

    My husband is a middle school principal, and one of his students came to him on behalf of the student body with a very thoughtful argument/proposal for walking out, and he enthusiastically agreed. They are all going to do it together–teachers and students and administrators.

    I do think your point about responsible gun ownership is a good one. Do you think that knowing how to own a gun “responsibly” has been affected by the change in the NRA from the gun safety association of our youth to a extremist lobbying group? I have to think that a standard placed by a group that is for “responsible gun ownership” would help educate people and lead to at the very least–fewer accidental shooting deaths and suicides by young people.

    I think one issue of defining it is that it is really complicated. The main issue that most people don’t talk about enough is that storing your gun for protection of your family and belongings is incompatible with storing your gun for safety.

    We have the gun my husband inherited from his grandfather (who received it as an award for his service as a police officer) in a 5 number combination safe. Loaded without the safety on. My husband insists on this arrangement because in the event of a break-in (which actually does happen fairly often in our neighborhood), he would be able to get it out quickly and respond to a threat. A lot of people wouldn’t want to have to remember a combination in a stressful situation (personally there is no way I am going to remember that number, so I will have to depend on my husband to get it out!), so they store their gun loaded in their nightstand or get a biometric safe. For other people with older kids, this type of safe isn’t great because there are too few combinations. Some people say to store your Ammo separately (terrible for protection), others say to put a trigger lock on it (again, not great for protection). My point is–these details are really complicated and important when you are talking about life or death.

    I know that a lot of people would respond to this with some version of “why do you really need it for protection?” And I totally get that. I didn’t grow up with a gun in my home, and I never felt the need.

    But I have two thoughts on that 1) I’m being very stereotypical here, but historically (even biologically?) a primary role of the man is as protector. It’s easy to wave this off, but think for a moment about the importance of a woman’s role as nurturer, and if you felt like this role were threatened. I believe that deep down many men who own guns are acting out of the desire to protect their families–they just aren’t great at saying “this is important to me because I love my family and want to protect them,” and instead it comes out as “don’t take away my guns!!”

    2) The other thing people don’t talk about often enough is the difference in rural vs urban perspectives on protection. In a rural location, you don’t have police officers within a mile of your house patrolling the neighborhoods. You have a sheriff in your county who may be an hour away. This type of living necessitates a certain self-reliance. I have known multiple people who lived in the country and experienced break ins as children (and in one case her dad was held at gun point). Law enforcement didn’t show up until much later. For urban dwellers, we are very reliant on the city–for resources and protection. I saw this first hand when I lived thru two hurricanes (Sandy and Harvey). I don’t think this is entirely a bad thing–these are just different ways of living and seeing the world.

    I find myself very firmly in the middle on this issue. I desperately want more gun control, but I also understand why people who own guns feel threatened by the gun control proposals. I try not to put them in the group of the “other” but understand what makes them tick and give them the benefit of the doubt. I have had some really meaningful, beautiful conversations with wonderful men who most people would peg as gun nuts–conversations about hunting, violence, politics, etc.–so I refuse to lump everyone into one category on this. I feel torn on all of this and recently deactivated my social media accounts to take a break from it all!

    1. This was a very thought comment, thanks for sharing your thoughts! It’s nice to hear a middle of the ground response. I sometimes feel all alone since I’m neither firmly on one side odnhe issue of the other.

    2. [Edited by Design Mom based on an email exchange with Rachel.]

      I appreciate your openness about being torn on this topic (and it sounds like your husband is an awesome Principal!). One paragraph that stood out to me in your comment was about the difference between storing guns for safety versus storing guns for protection, and how the two are not compatible. You bring up a good point, and I agree they are not compatible.

      From what I can tell, it seems like you approach the topic from the point of view that “guns are necessary to protect your home” is a legitimate argument, even a given. That’s where we differ. I don’t think we have to accept that it’s a valid argument. I haven’t seen logic behind the guns-for-home-protection line that holds up. I definitely come down strong on the idea that if guns are in the home at all, they should be stored safely.

      I don’t know what it would take to come to an agreement on the safety versus protection question. Is there anything that could convince me that having a loaded gun at home is safe? Probably not. If there was a gun in my home, loaded or otherwise, I have no doubt I would be dead. Is there anything that could convince your husband he can protect his family without a gun in the home? I don’t know. Perhaps talking to other families in countries where guns aren’t allowed, and seeing how they manage protection, could help.

      1. Gabby,

        I am certainly very protective of my kids (firm believer in rear facing car seats until past two here), but I am not one to consider outside threats very well. I am startled by every instance of crime that touches me personally and have to be reminded to take precautions–to take valuables out of the car, remember to lock doors every time, be aware of my surroundings, etc. I’m not an airhead or anything, but none of this comes naturally to me. My husband is VERY aware of this, having grown up among a family of police officers (his dad is a retired police officer, his mother worked at the academy, his grandfather, as I mentioned, was also a police officer) and hearing story after story after story. And I know that this is only one perspective–maybe a skewed one–but the perspective of a police officer is one that I very much think is worth considering. They experience SO much on behalf of all of us, seeing the very worst of humanity and dealing with threats on their personal safety and sometimes even their families’.

        You mentioned in a previous post that you understand the history and importance of hunting and how it is difficult to just let this go. (PS not hunters here). I think the guns for protection issue is similar–but I get the feeling that you are not extending that same understanding and grace to the protection argument.

        1. You’re right that I extend an understanding to hunters. I still don’t think they need to keep guns at home, but yes, I do extend an understanding. It’s true I don’t extend the same understanding to people who keep guns around for protection. I feel strongly there are ways to protect your family that don’t involve putting your children or community at risk (I believe storing guns at home ups the risk factor considerably). I see hunting and protecting as totally different things.

        2. Rachel –
          Your comments were well thought out and articulated. Thanks for taking the time to share! I feel badly that you didn’t find the safe place you expected. It didn’t read to me like you were looking for either advice or, necessarily, expecting acceptance/reinforcement. More like you just wanted to share your voice in a calm and reasoned manner. We should all be able to do that. Please know that you’ve been heard — including by many who read the comments (but don’t leave any ourselves) just to see what others have to say. You’ve been heard today, friend.
          Best wishes,

          1. Thanks, CMN. :)

            Gabby, I sent you an email. I’m tired of internet comment battles and not seeing the person behind a comment, so I’ve been trying to be a little more vulnerable–to tell my whole truth, to reach out to people if they are hurt by something I typed, say “I’m sorry, I was wrong,” more often, etc. It’s not easy. It’s made me cry more than a few times. I hope we can bridge the gap via email or phone.

            1. Thank you for the heartfelt email, Rachel. I very much wish I could have personal conversations via email or phone with every reader that is so inclined. It’s not doable this week, but who knows what next week will bring — I’m hopeful! In the meantime, I’ve edited the conversation to remove what you mentioned was troubling.

      2. I realized that I never addressed your edited comments here. In case others are reading or you don’t have time to discuss via email or otherwise, I thought I would lay it out:

        I absolutely do not approach the topic from the point of view that guns are necessary to protect your home. As I said, I didn’t grow up with guns in the home, and we never had any issues. I do approach it from the perspective that a huge portion of the population believes that this IS important, and I’m not wiling to dismiss their history, their feelings, or their opinions on that point.

        For most of our married lives, we have not had a gun in our home (when we lived in college housing, for example), and we have discussed at length the pros and cons, including when it wouldn’t be worth even engaging with someone who broke in, where the line between gun safety and guns for protection overlaps and how that might change based on the changing ages and mental health of our family. So yeah, I definitely think my husband could be convinced that he can protect his family without a gun. I’m actually certain he already knows that.

        For at least a few of the people in my life who feel passionately about it, I think it comes down to the idea that you don’t take a knife to a gun fight. So talking to families in other countries where guns aren’t allowed wouldn’t do a whole lot because they don’t have to think about someone coming in with a gun in their minds when thinking about protection.

        In the end I think we only disagree on two things: 1) Whether or not guns for protection is a valid argument that we should acknowledge, and 2) What the definition of a responsible gun owner is. We don’t disagree on the necessity of gun control or the walkout or that the hard line the NRA folks place on all of it is going to eventually lead to a complete ban (I think you are right on this, and I’ve been sending that link to people).

        I’m definitely willing to think long and hard on the second point–what a responsible gun owner is and whether or not we are–but I maintain that guns for protection needs to at least be given some consideration–at least until there is a total ban on all firearms that makes it mostly a moot point. In the meantime, I’ll keep fighting the good fight and call my representatives.

    3. Your biological argument makes a lot of sense, and it something that has never occurred to me before. I”m sure you’re right that it’s the underlying motivation for many men who are unable to articulate it as well as you did.

      1. I disagree on this point. I thought the biological argument was offensive. The author (Rachel) emailed me and explained that she didn’t mean it to be offensive, which I understand and believe. I’m glad it’s being discussed.

        1. I agree!!! I will resist enumerating the ways this argument is completely misogynistic, stereotyped, and yes, offensive. I would reflect on whether an opinion that blankets all humanity in your own experience as “the middle.” PLENTY of women are their family’s protectors, regularly deal with threats on their safety, and deal with the worst of humanity daily.

        2. Gabby, thanks for your comment and for taking the time to respond.

          One thing I feel like I should have prefaced my initial comment with was this: I am totally for gun control. Ban on bump stocks, ban on assault rifles, expanded background checks, long waiting periods, mental health screening–whatever it takes. I would even support a wholesale ban on all firearms, and if it were entirely up to me (it’s not), I would participate in a buyback program.

          My only hesitation AT ALL is that although I don’t think the second amendment is being interpreted correctly (I think the militia bit means it’s more about the national guard), it makes me nervous for any constitutional amendment that has been interpreted a certain way for decades to be reinterpreted a completely different way. I’m worried this would threaten other constitutional rights. Honestly, on all of this, I may even be more “left” than Gabby–I don’t have any hunting history in my family, so those arguments don’t particularly appeal to me (though like I said, I do understand it after hearing from a few men I care about), and I’m like “eh, they can figure out the hog thing.”

          I’m not trying to defend gun control measures at all. In any way. I think makes me in the “middle” is that I very sincerely want to acknowledge the perspective of the men (and women, actually) who are close to me and feel very differently (and of course the fact that there is a gun in our home, which I feel like in itself makes me further right–or at least un-left).

          On the biological point, as we know, women are the ones who can biologically have children, and I believe a man/husband/partner’s role is to support her, including protecting her during biologically/physically vulnerable times–like when she is pregnant or has just had a baby. I think this is less relevant today, of course, as we aren’t regularly fighting off wolves, but I also have to wonder if some element of that has continued in the collective consciousness. And by the way, I think this is the role of the non-birth-giving partner/support person in any relationship–to support and care for (physically, emotionally, financially, if necessary) the new mom, who may have medical, mental health, or other issues after the birth.

          I regret in my initial comment not being more careful with my wording or sensitive to triggers like men being “protective” or traditional gender roles, so I apologize to anyone (including Kate and Gabby) who is offended by that comment. Mainly I was just thinking this was a ‘safe place’ (as CMN called it) to voice what I hear a lot of people asking for–the perspectives of gun owners who are not NRA members and who support gun control. Clearly I was too quick to hit “submit.”

          The one point I am going to push back on a bit is Kate’s statement that my argument is “completely misogynistic, stereotyped…” I even said that I knew I was being stereotypical, and I’m not entirely sure why it’s particularly offensive to stereotype the male gun owner as viewing himself in the “protector” role, considering the stats on gun ownership (majority of gun owners are white men in the south who live in rural areas and cite protection as their #1 reasoning for gun ownership: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/06/22/the-demographics-of-gun-ownership/).

          I also never said (or believe) that women couldn’t be a family’s protector or deal with threats on their safety or that women don’t see the worst of humanity (hello, sexual assault stats). I also wasn’t talking about all men. I was trying to talk about men who have guns and how I have come to understand them. And since the majority of men who have guns cite protection as their reasoning and live in rural areas, I was trying to dig in on both of these points.

          I have listened so many times to an amazing On Being podcast episode that I recommend to everyone called “Pro-life, Pro-Choice, Pro-Dialogue,” and what always stands out to me the most is the question, “What do you like in the argument of the other? What troubles you about your own argument?” My intent was to answer those questions on gun control.

          1. I just reread my comment and realized that I mistyped something…I meant to say “I’m not against gun control measures. At all. In any way.”

          2. Also, if there is some element of the protector/nurturer comments that are offensive that I’m not understanding, feel free to (kindly) explain.

          3. Larissa Phillips

            Thank you for sharing, Rachel. I think that is such a great point about trying to parse out the part of the opposition’s argument that speaks to you. I appreciate the discussions on Design Mom for this very reason. I also think the protectionist idea you suggest might explain some of the irrational/emotional aspect of the gun rights crowd. (I live in rural NYS, surrounded by “REPEAL the SAFE ACT” signs. The SAFE act was a gun control act signed into law after Sandy Hook, and IMO it’s a great step and very fair to gun owners, but the response to it has been just completely irrational and hysterical, and I can’t understand it.) (What is the male version of hysteria, btw? I think we might need it. ) I will look for that podcast.

  5. My high schooler is home sick and his school is participating in the walkout. My eighth grader’s class is writing letters to Senators and He will bring home the letter so we can read and sign it and give permission for the teacher to send them. I really like that the teacher has decided to do this. Originally she was going to have them walkover to the high school to watch the walkout (the school is tiny and right next to the high school). I like the idea of having a discussion in class and urging parents to have the discussion at home. I think it’s important to discuss these events at home because I feel as a society we are becoming immune to violence. I think I heard on the radio driving yesterday of three gun shootings in our city and I actually yelled out in my car to myself, “What is wrong, people?!?!”

  6. I’m so sorry you’re getting hateful messages but I do thank you for speaking up. Have you read the post “Fu** You, I like Guns”? It’s not what it sounds like. Maybe you should direct the Quora folks to that.

  7. Thank you for your thoughtful posts on such an important issue. I see the nasty comments as an indicator that those people feel threatened by the current movement, as well they should. We are homeschooling this year, so my kids and I staged our own walkout in the backyard for solidarity.

  8. Our kids are in elementary school and 4th and 5th graders are walking out in our school. Select younger kids are participating if the parents want them to. Many parents of younger kids don’t feel ready to talk to their children about guns and gun violence for fear of scaring them. I’ve spoken to my kids (6&10) at length. My 6 yr old is especially eager to participate. There was a good article in the WSJ the other day about the walkout and elementary schools. It concluded if we can teach our kids to hide under a desk for 6 years, we can teach them to have a voice. I remember the first time my older son participated in a lockdown my heart sank. Lockdowns are good but I think they need context to be understood.

  9. My kids are in elementary and kindergarten so maybe their age is why I haven’t heard anything about the walk out from any local schools… or maybe it’s that I live in Idaho and even though MANY of us support stricter gun control, of course sadly many people just can’t even discuss the most basic ideas of gun control in a civil manner here. Either way, good for your kids for participating and way to go school kids across the country!

    I wondered this morning about the actual individuals in positions of leadership in the NRA. I’ve seen so many articles about the members of Congress accepting NRA contributions but I wondered about articles shedding light on the actual people pushing the NRA’s agenda from within. It seems unfair if they can hide behind the NRA without everyone knowing who they are, just like we know which members of Congress accept their funding. Does anyone know of articles regarding this?

  10. Our school district is not supporting a walk out (citing safety concerns) but their photographer (who also runs their social media pages) created a huge controversy by blocking and banning (mostly) young adults that commented with a dissenting view. He claimed they were inflammatory and could cause students harm, mostly because he saw them as influencers. These young ladies were respectful and not inflammatory, and they were students that the district touted during their high school career because they excelled (full ride scholarships, one is attending Princeton, etc.), but now they were being blocked. He also went on his personal twitter and mocked these students. The didn’t take it, and the policy has since been reviewed and changed. I’m so very proud of them for standing up for themselves and others, even in the face of parents attacking them on the page. When my daughter graduated a few years ago from this school district, the speaker told them they were the generation that had the answers and would make things change, and they shouldn’t sit back and be quiet just to fit in. These students are living that now and it literally brings tears to my eyes to see.

    My son and I agreed that for him, walking out wasn’t going to accomplish what he wanted it to, so he would stay in class. I do wish our district would have allowed some sort of moment, even if it was just 17 minutes of silence.

    1. Also, my kids went to elementary and middle school on a military base. This may make our view slightly different than others. We agree that there needs to be solutions, but we see it needing to be a broad and holistic approach, not JUST tightening and closing loopholes in gun laws.

    2. That’s got to be so hard for those teens to be personally attacked by adults in their community. I mean, they’re still kids. And we know from studies that teens feel things more intensely. I’m so proud of them too!

  11. We received an email from my daughter’s high school written by the superintendent that let us know any student participating would be punished. I told my daughter that I supported her either way and that she would have to make the decision. She chose to walk. She is very intelligent and thoughtful and politically active so I wasn’t surprised. Someone on the Board of Ed told them to just get their Instagram pictures inside the school instead of walking out and we found that very insulting-most teens are not as vacuous as many adults like to make them out to be. My daughter told me that there were groups of mothers standing outside clapping for them which I find very uplifting since we live in a conservative area of Louisville, KY.
    I honestly would love to see a world without weapons (I realize that’s a pipe dream) even though I grew up in a family that hunted when I was a child. I can make an exception for the occasional hunting rifle but I can’t even fathom any excuse to own any type of assault rifle and am incredulous of anyone that makes the argument for them. Like to shoot targets?-leave them at the range maybe, but I say tough shit we don’t all get to do everything we want in life!

    1. “but I say tough shit we don’t all get to do everything we want in life!” Hah! Love this. And good for your daughter! I’m always amazed to hear about school admins who are so down on teens, when all the evidence I’ve seen shows that, on the whole, teens these days are incredibly thoughtful and aware.

  12. My daughter’s middle/high school (grades 6-12) in NYC participated. Teachers who aren’t in the classroom at the time volunteered to be outside, while classroom teachers stayed inside with any students who didn’t want to walk out.

    The administration put great thought into how to integrate this into the school day in a way that allowed the kids to protest and keep them safe. (They could have assembled on the ball field, but the principal worried that left them exposed to high rises so they assembled in a covered area. How sad is it that you have to think about safety from gun violence at a protest about gun violence?)

    I’m also planning to march on the 24th.

    I agree that this seems to be the first time the conversation hasn’t died once the news cycle moved on. I’m hopeful that means we can see some real change.

  13. Our school system actively encouraged the children to walk-out and I assume most of the teachers and administrators joined them today. I’m so incredibly proud of these vocal, politically savvy, organized, smart kids! I also saw on social media that a large group of our community members were standing across the street supporting them (the superintendent sent out a letter asking the community to let the kids have their own protest, which I thought was great).
    Gabby, I love your posts and the thoughtful perspectives you provide. It is a tough issue, but I think that if people could really take a thoughtful look at the statistics and the falsehoods behind the “I want to protect my family” scenario, then maybe they’d be open to a new idea of gun ownership (or no guns). I agree with you about the “I’m a responsible gun owner” debate. I too have a lot of friends who are hunters, gun collectors, or work in the gun business (work for a gun manufacturer or for companies that set-up shooting ranges) and they all consider themselves to be responsible gun owners, but you cannot predict human behavior or the behavior of those around them who would also have access to those weapons. It would be so much better to just ban them all.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I wish we as a country were open to diving in and unpacking the whole “I’m protecting my family” line of thinking. The stuff that lies beneath that thinking so rarely even relates to family protection. And when I hear the argument, I always think of parents who live in countries (like England and Australia) where guns are harder to come by. Are we assuming they don’t protect their families?

      It would be amazing to shift the conversation to: You’re so good at protecting your family! You know just what to do: Get life insurance. Use car seats and seat belts. Keep cleaning supplies out of reach. Dispose of old prescriptions. Don’t feed your kids expired food. Teach kids to wash their hands and sneeze into their elbows. Get immunizations. Don’t use window blinds with cords. Teach kids about online dangers and limit internet access if needed. Teach strategies for responding to bullies. Eat organic if you can. Use a baby monitor. Have 72-hour kits ready based on local natural disaster needs. Do whatever you can to help your kids get a good education… And don’t keep guns in the house because you know households with guns are less safe.

      1. YES to all of this! So many ways to be protective and safe at home (in the car, when out on the town, or when on the Internet…) on a variety of fronts. Also, I agree that one can have a protective and safe home without the presence of guns, but if technology can help gun owners with safer storage (think biometric gun safes), then those technologies should be required. Even those technologies would not prevent “heat of the moment” gun usage (suicide, angry spouses with biometric access, etc.), but they might cut down on access/use by children in the home.

      2. I live in Australia. An incident with high powered guns in 1996 and 35 dead people shocked us to our core. Our government took action and we have had nothing like that happen since. What is hard to fathom from a distance is that nothing seems to shock America into strong action on this. Not Sandy Hook, or Las Vegas or Portland. I am so happy to see young Americans taking this issue on and hope they will be the catalyst for change.

      3. I wish you actually wanted to “dive in” with this line of argument because while I’m trying to not be argumentative, it really doesn’t seem like you will hear any other opinion openly. One of the reasons we have such a breakdown is that people have made up their minds so firmly on one side or the other and cannot fathom that the other side might have some valid points. You have made up your mind and so the conversation is over with. I’ve read the comments here and on other gun posts you’ve done in an effort to better understand a different point of view but it’s definitely difficult to be judged as a parent who doesn’t keep my family safe because we do store guns in our home (unloaded in a safe by the way).

        1. Kimberly, I have two sincere questions. I don’t know if your children are old enough for you to be at this point, but I have a 9 and 11 year old. What instruction do you give to them should they find themselves at a friend’s, (or maybe a cousin’s?) house and that friend has gotten their hands on a gun in their household? We can tell our children not to touch or “play” with real weapons, or refuse to allow them to be at the home of someone who keeps a gun(s), but if you are someone who is comfortable having guns at home, what do you tell your kids to do if they find themselves in a situation like this? I don’t even mean that the friend intends harm – but I am sickened every time I read about some child accidentally killing a sibling because they accessed a loaded weapon. How do I teach my kids to safely get out of a situation like this?

          My second question is one I’ve discussed with a friend who is a hunter and NRA member. We have differing views on politics but we’ve always had calm conversations because we both are listeners. He’s someone that if my son wanted to learn how to hunt when he was old enough, I would trust him to teach my son to be responsible with a gun. I’ve asked him why when the tragedies occur, the NRA promotes panic that the government is going to take everyone’s guns? And if I’m to believe there are more people such as himself who prioritize safe gun usage, why don’t they choose to be the loudest voices? His answer was that promoting fear of gun restrictions increases gun sales. Do you think it’s possible that there could be a larger, louder voice of gun owners that want to promote safety over profit?

          1. Thanks for your sincere questions!
            My kids are 11, 7, and 2. My older two boys are old enough that we’ve talked about guns and have very strict rules. I liken it to how we talk about sex (though I’m not saying these are the same issue AT ALL)—it’s an on going conversation with more info all the time rather than one big uncomfortable talk. For example, the earliest rule we taught, long before they were old enough to see or touch a real gun is to NEVER POINT A GUN AT A PERSON. (Even in play with nerf or a stick from the backyard.) This rule is the most basic of gun safety and we’ve had to cut ties from going to the gun range with adults who don’t follow it. (Which does agree with something I’ve heard Gabby say about having a standard for what responsible gun ownership looks like.)
            At this point my 7 and 11 year old have shot a gun at the range with a ton of direction and supervision. I can understand this might be shocking to some but my boys see how much talking about it has to happen before and the protocols to follow. I would not let them handle a weapon alone until they are an adult.
            For us, this is safer. We live in a more rural area of the country and they will encounter a gun some time. I want them to have drilled in their minds how to handle that situation. They also won’t be curious in the same way because they will have experienced it.
            I hope that makes sense, I could write more if you have questions.
            As far as the NRA goes, I really dislike that organization. I don’t feel it properly represents actual gun owners. Not to mention the money they are using to lobby government comes from dues. That means middle American families are paying for steak dinners and campaign contributions. Yuck. It’s just not upfront because people pay those dues because they think it’s supporting an organization meant to protect their interests and I just don’t believe that’s the NRAs goal.

          2. I wrote the reply above on my phone and now that I sit at a computer and reread I realize I didn’t actually answer your question.
            What I teach my kids about if they found themselves in a situation where a gun was found: 1. Never touch a gun without Dad around. NEVER. That means at our house or somewhere else. 2. Just like other important things like this, there will be no judgment from me. If you find yourself in a situation where other kids/people are doing something not in line with your rules, leave. Immediately! Call me, find an adult you can trust, even call 911. I’ve stressed many times to them that it’s okay to ‘over-react’ in a situation like this. 3. If I knew there was an unlocked gun in the home I would never allow my kids to play there (this is hard though because you can’t know that for sure). 4. And this one is kinda what I was alluding to in the first response–I would prepare my kids to know the difference between a controlled gun experience and not. Because they’ve learned our rules for handling guns and walked through the many, many steps before firing I feel like they are more able to see the things wrong when/if a situation comes up.

          3. Thanks for answering my questions, Kimberly. I really appreciate it. I don’t expect I will ever own a gun or view them as recreation. Hopefully safety for all can become a uniting factor for families. “Reduce the Risk” is what I’d like to see. I think legislation is a part of that, but also things that you’ve written about here. We all want our kids to become healthy, responsible adults, yes?

        2. Oh. I think you misunderstand me, Kimberly. When I say “dive deep on safety in the home” I’m not out here trying to hear more perspectives from gun owners on why they think guns make their home safer. I’ve already done that. Literally for years. Right here on Design Mom. I’ve even asked for perspectives quite recently. I’m confident I’ve heard it all at this point.

          So when I say I want the country to dive in, it’s because I’m hopeful gun owners (and everyone else) will come to recognize there isn’t much logic behind the “guns keep my home and family safe” argument, and that homes without guns are indeed safer. Often the underlying arguments for having guns in the home come down to: 1) that’s what my parents did so it seems normal to me, or 2) I “feel” safer if guns are in the house. (Of course, there also seems to be a pretty vocal contingent that says they have guns because of protection but really mean: f**k off I like guns. Part 2 is good too.) None of those reasons are good reasons to keep a gun at home.

          I have definitely heard practical reasons for having a gun in the home — like if you live in a rural area and need to kill wild hogs that attack your farm. And I’ve been very open that I am in full support of nuance in gun laws. (If the country was trying to eliminate guns from homes, I’m sure lawmakers could come up with a way to prove an exception so that a rural family can own a basic .22 to kill wild hogs.)

          It’s not the practical reasons that I want gun owners to dive into. It’s the underlying reasons beneath the guns-make-my-home-safer arguments.

          1. I can definitely understand the emotion of being done with hearing reasoning and only wanting action from the opposing side.
            I’m just sad about that and the place I’m in. I am being told that because I own a gun I’m a bad mother and illogical person by one side and because I support background checks and bans on assault weapons I’m shunned by the other as well.
            This is why Donald Trump is president and so many other not good for us things are happening—people in the middle of a viewpoint are vilified as being he worst. Because I own a gun I must be ok with children being shot in schools?! Because I own a gun I cannot question more factors than just gun control? I’m just sad that compromises could not be made sooner so you (and so many like you) could have made room for me at the table.

          2. I completely feel you, Kimberly. I’m disheartened that not even moderate voices–just those who think there is some nuance to any number of issues (not just gun control) have become the smallest. And it actually makes me angry because like you said, I believe it is the reason we have Trump as president.

            I understand why Gabby feels like this isn’t up for discussion for her any more. For me the death penalty isn’t up for discussion any more. I believe it’s wrong and we need to abolish it. I do want to point out, though, that in the after-the-jump link it literally says “let’s discuss” [the walk out]. And at the end of the post, it says “I’d love to hear your thoughts on the walkout, and on the whole current gun discussion.” Kimberly and I both seemed to misunderstand you on this point.

          3. Kimberly, I’m not sure I understand your take on this. Until a few weeks ago, every time I’ve brought up guns here on Design Mom (which has been many times over the years), I’ve treated gun owners gently. I shared my pro-gun-control views, but was careful to consider their perspectives and experiences. I shared data about guns in the home, and mental health, and gun suicides, and hey, if they decided they wanted a seat at the gun control table, they were welcome.

            I’m still at the same table and gun owners are still welcome.

            The difference now is that our kids are now having to make the changes we should have made a decade ago. And I believe the time for being gentle with gun owners has past.

            If you want to actively fight for gun control, come join us at the table. If you don’t want to sit at my table for fear of being vilified by those who don’t support background checks, I’d say come sit at the table anyway. I’m sure you care more about reducing gun violence in our country. than about getting yelled at by people who disagree with you.

            I wish compromises had been made earlier too. But it’s not too late. If gun owners stand up to the NRA and demand change, it can still happen.

            As far as saying things like, “That is why Donald Trump is president” and “people in the middle of a viewpoint are vilified as being he worst,” I mean, come on. I don’t see anything to back that up. If your view is: “I’m hesitant to fight for gun control because I don’t want to be vilified by gun enthusiasts” then I would say that isn’t a middle viewpoint. It’s an anti-gun-control viewpoint. It’s choosing the status quo, and the status quo belongs to the gun enthusiasts.

            I think an example of a middle viewpoint on gun control would be more like: “I’m a gun owner, and I want to continue owning guns, so I demand that we put into law, requirements for responsible gun ownership that look like x, y, z. I take actions that promote this viewpoint, and I communicate this viewpoint to other gun owners.”

            I don’t see that as your viewpoint. Am I not understanding you correctly?

          4. Rachel, yes, I would like to hear your viewpoint on the walkout and the whole current gun discussion. I think that’s clear based on the discussions on this post, right?

            It sounds like you’re getting stuck on an exchange between Kimberly and I, about a smaller point within the larger gun discussion — the “guns make homes safer” argument.

            As part of the whole current gun discussion you are certainly welcome to share your views on why you think guns make homes safer. I’m personally not interested in those views, because as I said, I’m confident I’ve heard them already. But I’m not the only person reading here, so perhaps someone else who hasn’t heard your views before might learn something from them. Either way, they are certainly welcome here.

            Of course, if you want to share those views, but you don’t want anyone to respond or disagree, then I’m not sure what to tell you.

            I actually just had another thought on this, and am going to start another comment thread below because this one’s too long.

          5. I want to share my views, and I am fine with disagreement. My issue (which I expressed via email to you and Kimberly put so well, which is why I responded to her) is that I came expecting something completely different than what has been dished out to me. The culture you have created on your site and the cheerful (though serious) tone of “I’d love to hear your thoughts” doesn’t jive with many of the comments you’ve made to me. Maybe I’m not cut out for this kind of discussion or prepared for someone to challenge me in this way. I’ve cried multiple times and lost sleep over this, so clearly I’m not as thick skinned as you are. But I do care very deeply about it–and it’s the reason it cuts so deep.

          6. It also cuts deep because like I said, I’ve been invested in your blog for years. I just went back and read emails you have sent me. For years I prayed that I would someday have kids and have a home so I could be on your Living with Kids series. I’ve thought about it even more over the last 6 months as our house has been repaired after the hurricane–that maybe I would have that chance. It’s just a let down to care for someone from afar and be encouraged by them so much for 10 years and then in the blink of an eye, it all feels very different because something you wrote while you thought you were being brave and honest offended them so deeply. I don’t know what else to say.

          7. Rachel, I am so sorry. My responses to you have not been what you wanted or hoped for and I apologize.

            Please know that despite what it feels like, I haven’t written anything to you that I intended to be mean or harsh. Yes, I have disagreed on some points, but I wasn’t trying to be rude or discouraging in any way as I responded.

            I value you as a person. I value your participation here. I appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I haven’t been able to respond to every person who has commented on this post, but I’ve tried hard to make time to sincerely respond to you. And I would be more than happy to share your home in a house tour — with or without kids (it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve featured a kid-free house).

            I’ve read my responses to you (the originals and the edits), and confess, I’m still a bit perplexed about what cut so deep and hurt you so badly. I 100% believe you’re experiencing pain from my actions, and I want to understand.

            If you’re up for it, I would LOVE if you would write an example of a comment that you would have wanted to hear from me in response to your original vulnerable comment. If you’re not up for it, no worries. I’m just hoping to understand what you are wanting to hear from me, and what would make you feel confident that you are very much a valued part of this community.

            Again, I’m so sorry.

            P.S. — I know you mentioned you haven’t like “what has been dished out to you” comment-wise, and I just want to reassure you that your comments have been excellent — thoughtful, clear, and really good at encouraging conversation. Some people have agreed with you, others have not. But your comments are worthy and worthwhile. Please don’t think otherwise.

          8. I responded more to your new thread but wanted to wrap up a couple thoughts here.
            I can’t speak for Rachel (she certainly doesn’t need me to) but I really appreciate her responses to me. Not because I commented with the desire or need to be validated but because to me, commenting on your blog as a gun owner seems very unusual. At least of the comments I’ve read and I’ll admit I haven’t read all or even the majority of them. So, having someone respond non-judgmentally was great.
            Obviously we come from very different experiences and have made different conclusions, I just look for the same curtesy I extend. I disagree on some points but never for once have questioned someone’s mothering abilities or sanity or intelligence. All of those things have come up when I expressed any kind of pro-gun point of view.

        3. I’m not sure where to add my two cents here between the comments, but I agree that your (Gabby’s) tone is harsh, unbending, and seems closed off. I’ve always enjoyed your strong opinions, even when they differed from my own. But this time, your words sting me, despite the fact that I think I’m in line with most of them. I can understand why Kimberly feels you don’t want to discuss it and why Rachel may feel this isn’t as safe a space as she once thought.

  14. My daughters’ schools participated here in the Chicago suburbs. The district said there would be no disciplinary action. About a third of the middle schoolers participated. Haven’t heard numbers from the high school, but I anticipate it being a far bigger percentage. My HS junior for sure participated. My 8th grader was on the fence. I told her to do what felt best for her.

    I am thankful for these children who are focused on action in this arena. They’ve gotten movement where the rest of us have failed for years.

    1. “I am thankful for these children who are focused on action in this arena. They’ve gotten movement where the rest of us have failed for years.”

      YES! If my generation couldn’t get movement on this issue, I’m over the moon that my kids’ generation is making it happen.

  15. My daughter is in first grade and her entire Elementary School staged a Peace, Love and Safety walk that culminated in a big peace sign on the field. It was beautiful. I’m beyond furious that this is something they had to do, but am so gratified that the school encouraged it so fully. I have so many words for those school administrators who are trying to shut this down. If we can’t protest peacefully what good are these freedoms you are fighting so hard to protect? Anyway, as it was an Elementary school most of the signs said things like ‘love and happiness’ or ‘you are loved’ – this is not new to them, they have made signs before. One girl though, maybe 3rd grade held a sign that said simply, ‘we want to feel safe.’ Well that got the tears flowly freely. What a f*cking low bar. These babies… God save us all.

  16. Pamela Balabuszko-Reay

    My 9th grader’s school had hundreds and hundreds of kids in their walkout. Student leaders planned it and provided the schedule. Silence, music and speakers. Our 5th grader felt very strongly about walking out. We talked about the role of the kids in Birmingham during the Civil Rights movement. Kids changed everything then as well. He made the connection and walked. One kid in his class didn’t walk outside of the school but walked in the classroom silently for 17 minutes. I’m so proud of our thoughtful, powerful kids.

    1. It’s really cool to watch the walkout reports coming in across the country. In a school in Atlanta, the walkout was forbidden, so the students took a knee for 17 minutes. (Wow!) And I read that Nickelodeon went off air for 17 minutes too.

      It feels like change is coming!

  17. My newly retired parents (both in their mid-60’s) are flying to DC for the March on the 24th. They have never been super politically active, but have been really moved and inspired by the high school protesters. I couldn’t be more proud.

  18. I was in Athens a few weeks ago, and the Greek taxi driver who drove me to the airport shared some very interesting thoughts. He explained that in Athens, the only guns that are allowed are hunting rifles, which must be kept in a safe year round and can only be used during hunting season. The owners can not keep the keys to the safe with them; they are only allowed to collect the key during hunting season and must return them (I believe to the gun license administrators) afterwards. He told me that although he loves guns, he knows he cannot own one. He told me that if anyone brought harm to his family, he would kill them without hesitation, and this is why he cannot own a gun. He told me that the shootings in Athens are almost non-existent. I haven’t done much research to confirm his claims, but I appreciated his rationale.

  19. I went to high school in Colombia in the 90’s, the height of the drug cartel wars. It was a violent time. Bombs going off, people getting killed. We moved from the US to Cali and the building where we moved to had armed body guards everywhere. Never in my life have I felt that a weapon gave me any protection. To me, then and now weapons have always represented death. I firmly believe that us humans we base our actions either on love or fear and somehow the majority of our country is so overtaken by fear that having a loaded weapon in their home with children makes sense. I get that they don’t see it differently. It baffles me that they are also Christian, in their version of Christianity would the apostles have gotten out their AR-15s? Every reason that has been presented to me about gun ownership is selfish and entirely fear based.

    My father in law was a weaponry specialist for the Chilean police during the fall of Allende and during the Pinochet years. He is the first person to tell you that under no circumstances should people own guns and keep guns in their home.

    I feel like I am rambling…so many feelings around this issue. We live in the DC area and will be joining the march on the 24th.

  20. Our upper elementary, middle, and high schools fully participated here in Charlottesville. The superintendent of schools was very communicative before and after about how it would go and how the teachers and staff are committed to supporting the students as they exercise their rights- either to walk out or remain in class.

    My kids’ elementary school did not participate in the walk out, due to the varying developmental stages of the kids. However, the PTO invited any parents to arrive early to the school and welcome the kids with signs, cheering, music- anything. The message was that our kids are welcomed and loved. That seemed a beautiful way to participate, while still allowing parents to discuss the topic with their K-4 graders using their own discretion.

    I dropped two of my kids off and cried all the way home. I’m grieved that this is where we are, and damn proud of a bunch of teenagers for leading the charge toward change.

    1. I’m so proud of all these awesome kids!

      As I look ahead, picturing what could happen regarding gun violence, I wonder if a lot of the change may be spurred on by simple social pressure. Meaning, if our kids decide they don’t want to go into homes that keep guns — whether it’s a school friend’s home, a home where they’re babysitting, or even Grandpa’s home — then maybe the gun owners will voluntarily get rid of their guns, simply because it’s no longer socially acceptable to have them, and they don’t want to be “shunned” by the neighbors.

      P.S. — If you’re a gun owner and you read this comment, what’s your take on the social pressure idea? If you found out the majority of families from your school wouldn’t let their kids hang out at your house because you store guns there (even if they’re in a safe), would you think twice about keeping guns? Or would it have no effect on you?

  21. I live in a rural, very conservative part of Pennsylvania (Trump Country… and Gun Country) and the walkouts covered the entire front page of our local paper today. Almost every day for the past two months, the local paper has had stories about the national gun debates, as well as stories about discussions that are happening at the local school board meetings about how the schools can better protect kids. My local friends on social media have been discussing it too. People here are worried, want action, and want solutions. The difference is that they are focused on increasing school security, hiring guards, and installing bulletproof glass instead of any sort of gun control. There are so many hunters here, and so many guns (we have several in our house, locked in a safe). It is hard to make anyone here believe that guns are the problem, when we have approximately one gun death every few years in our county of 50,000 people and 50,000 guns.

    I would like to know why none of the debate, anger and blame seems to focus on the gun manufacturers. They are the ones profiting from everyone’s pain, and they are massive financial contributors to the NRA. Automobile manufacturers have to comply with 595 safety measures required by the Federal government before they can sell their deadly products to consumers. Why aren’t gun manufacturers held to the same standard as car manufacturers? Manufacturers should be required to include biometric trigger locks on all new guns that only allow the gun to be fired by the owner. Think of how many accidental toddler deaths, teenage suicides, and crimes committed using stolen guns could be prevented by “smart” guns that require the owner’s fingerprint in order to fire.

    This debate will get a lot more traction if we focus on eliminating needless gun deaths instead of eliminating guns. There are 19 more policy solutions here. As always Gabrielle, thank you for creating a space for intelligent and respectful discourse.

    1. I should add, in spite of the conservative, pro-gun nature of this area, all of the local high schools participated in the walk-out and none of administrators enforced any disciplinary action against students who participated. Most of the schools supported the walk-outs by organizing them around a moment of silence.

    2. I love the idea of holding gun manufacturers more accountable.

      On the biometric triggers: that would be amazing to eliminate accidental toddler deaths and teen suicides. That would be a big number of lives saved each year! Just thinking: What if older guns were also required to be retrofitted with biometric triggers. I assume responsible gun owners would be into that (because no one wants their gun used by someone else — criminal or child).

      1. Absolutely. A law requiring manufacturers to produce safer guns could also include a massive, centralized trade-up program whereby gun owners could trade in their old guns for new models with biometric trigger locks. Eventually, older, non-compliant guns would be phased out and destroyed (with some exceptions for antiques). I remember reading a statistic that a gun kept for home protection is more likely to be used against the owner (by the criminal), so in that respect, biometric trigger locks would make the home protection argument MORE accurate, by actually making people safer in the event of a home invasion.

        I love the idea of requiring old guns to be retrofitted, but I’m not entirely sure how that could be enforced… is there any sort of public health model for that? Unlike old cars that lack modern safety features, a gun can remain operational for hundreds of years, so we wouldn’t have the attrition of old guns simply “wearing out” over time.

        The problem is that because smart gun technology is offered by manufacturers only on a voluntary basis, it’s still a bit clunky and I’m sure some gun owners would believe it to slow their response time in the event of an emergency. But if manufacturers were required to produce smart guns, you can bet they would improve and streamline the technology pretty quickly.

  22. I’m from a small, central-Alabama town and unfortunately the town, the county, the state is very Republican and so my daughter’s high school decided that instead of doing anything to recognize the devastation of gun violence that they would encourage the students to “Do 17 kind things to people that you normally won’t interact with” – which of course places the blame for school shootings ON the students. The school will not allow any type of demonstration, posters, dissenting opinions and so what my daughter did was create signs, one for each person that has died in a school, through gun violence, for 2018 – each sign had the person’s name, age, the weapon that killed them and whether they were a student or teacher. She gave them out to other interested students and they wore them on their backs for the day. One student contacted her the night before because his parents didn’t want the weapon to be put on the sign – she explained that she had already made them and that the point of the exercise was to bring attention to guns – the student still participated. One student took the sign but then removed it during his first class – she got the sign from him and gave it to another student. He didn’t feel safe wearing it – which should give you an idea of what it is like at our school. Alabama is a hard state to live in and there have been many times I considered leaving (hello both terms of President Obama) but it has made my daughter stronger, more willing to stand up for what she believes in, more vocal in voicing opposition to the status quo. I am grateful for that.

  23. I find it so fascinating to read these comments, and the accompanying discussions/arguments. I am from and live in New Zealand. I don’t know a single person who owns a gun. People do own them for hunting, I just don’t know any hunters. I have never seen a gun in New Zealand up close – I’ve seen them carried in a military march and at the museum. Our policemen and women don’t carry guns on their person, some have them in their cars. On the rare occasion that police have had to use guns on a ‘criminal’ and that has resulted in death our police are heavily scrutinized, and I feel sad and disappointed that the person was killed because I think everyone deserves a trial/deserves to serve time for their crime.

    I have many more thoughts on this, but the main one is that the ‘right to own a gun’ is a social construction. It’s not a human right. In order to survive in the most basic of senses one needs shelter, food, water and clothing to protect oneself from the elements. There is nothing else one needs to survive. Gun ownership should not be a right, it should be a privilege.

    1. I’ve just got out of bed as I regret writing the second paragraph to this as I didn’t give it enough thought and the whole human right/social construct thing is incorrect however I can’t figure out how to delete it so i’ll just say that I stand by the last sentence!

      Commenting something about a controversial topic requires a lot of time and thought, and is quite stressful…I’m not sure am cut out for it lol.

  24. I did something years ago that still just drives me nuts when I think about it. I was pregnant and my grandfather had died and I was with my husband and parents going through his house figuring out what was to be done with everything. I went into my grandfather’s bedroom and just randomly looked into the drawer of his bedside table. There was a pistol in the drawer. I took it out, put my finger on the trigger, and pulled it. It was like a spell – some sort of involuntary response. Although my father was a WWII veteran and had both guns and pistols around the house, I didn’t know where they were kept and had never fired a gun before except once when my father took me squirrel hunting. My grandfather’s pistol was, in fact, loaded, but I had been pointing the barrel down so the bullet lodged in a floorboard. I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person but that didn’t prevent me from doing something that was irrevocably stupid and could have been tragic as well. Maybe the gun mystique? maybe all those westerns I watched as a kid? I don’t know why I pulled that trigger, but having done so, I now believe that guns can never surrounded by sufficient safeguards to make them a good idea for private citizens. I am ok with hunting. But further than that, I see no need for guns. As a southerner, I was recently disturbed by this article by Thom Hartmann, a writer I respect. According to him, the language about “well-regulated militia” in the 2nd Amendment referred to slave patrols to suppress slave rebellions. So the 2nd Amendment is another relic from the South’s slave owning past, when the framers of the Constitution had to count slaves as 3/5’s of a person so that Southern white men would have more representation in Congress.

  25. I was responding to Kimberly and Rachel in comments above, and I had a thought. Both talked about not feeling like they can safely share their views as gun owners. And by “safely” they seem to mean that they want to share their thoughts and have their thoughts validated. But they’re not finding the validation they were hoping for.

    It occurs to me that this may be one of the social shifts that is recurring because of the Stoneman-Douglas massacre, and the sustained attention on gun reform that high school kids are demanding. By that I mean, we seem to have crossed some line, where it’s becoming less socially acceptable to be a gun owner who isn’t actively fighting for reforms to prevent gun violence, or maybe it’s becoming less socially acceptable to be a gun owner at all. I don’t know.

    Up until now, I think many gun owners didn’t really feel compelled to take a position on gun violence. Maybe they own a gun or two but don’t think of themselves as a “gun enthusiast,” maybe it’s their spouse’s gun and they don’t think about it much and would be fine if it was gone, maybe they hate to see the gun violence but think the gun situation in our country is what it is, and there’s not much to be done. They might read the gun discussions and debates, but they haven’t really participated.

    And now there’s this shift. And what was a fairly safe, non-stance to take (I have guns but am open to gun control in theory), doesn’t feel like a safe stance anymore.

    I wonder if smoking in our country is a good comparison. I grew up in a community that didn’t smoke so I’m no expert. But this it what it looked like to me as smoking became less and less acceptable in our culture:

    – For years, there are studies coming out about how dangerous smoking is, and that it causes cancer, other health problems, and hurts the development of the fetus in pregnant women. And smokers respond: Dang. That’s awful. But I really like smoking.

    – Then there are ad campaigns and social movements to discourage smoking. Trying to make it seem uncool. And smokers respond: Hahaha. We know it’s cool.

    – Then studies come out about second-hand smoke. Smokers aren’t just hurting themselves, they’re hurting everyone around them. Smokers respond: Whatever. People have been smoking since this country started. You can’t force me to quit smoking.

    – Then based on data and research on second hand smoke, laws start to be enacted, like no smoking on planes. Smokers respond: This is ridiculous. Smoking is totally normal. I have a right to smoke!

    – Citizens realize how lovely it is to travel on a plane without smoke. Also, they’re not at risk of getting lung cancer! They want more smoke-free places. Smoke-free cultural events. Smoke-free taxis. Smoke-free work places. Even smoke-free restaurants. Many people quit smoking, but some smokers don’t understand the social tide has turned. Smokers respond: No way. There’s no way that restaurants (and bars!) will ban smoking. They’ll go out of business. It won’t work.

    – It becomes fairly uncommon to smoke. Smoking is limited to tiny areas outside of buildings. People talk about smoking like it’s dirty or gross; that it stinks. People won’t let friends smoke in their car. Hotels forbid smoking in rooms. It’s hard to find a place to safely smoke. Grandchildren beg their grandparents to stop smoking. Social pressure to not smoke is super high. Tons of products come out to help stop smoking. Smokers respond: What? What happened? Smoking is cool, right? No? Crap. Okay, well, I’ll either stop smoking, or if I can’t I’ll smoke in shame, or try to hide it, or downplay the fact I smoke.


    I’m wondering if something similar is happening to guns. And gun owners are caught off guard thinking: What? I thought it was fine to own guns? What happened?

    Crazy theory? Or good parallel? What are your thoughts?

    1. Wow, this discussion with you and Rachel has been interesting. I’m not typically a commenter on blogs and so I’ll admit the format is new to me. Because of that I also feel I hastily wrote out thoughts and should have proof read them for clarity—because it is a touchy subject to everyone.
      That said, I am not afraid to speak up. You mentioned above that I shouldn’t be afraid as a gun owner to speak up for gun reform to my more pro-gun/NRA associates. I assure you I am not. Fear is not the driver but I see the trend that being not fully on either side of this debate makes it difficult to have any influence. I certainly cannot vote for a representative that reflects my point of view, because that person wouldn’t be backed by either major party. I’m not trying to whine but it is a reality. I also wasn’t trying to argue that guns in the home make it safer. I would never say that, I don’t think it’s true. And for me they don’t make me feel safer.
      As far as the walkout goes, since that is what the post is about, I am torn. On the one hand I LOVE that teenagers are making their voices heard. I wish it wasn’t so grey and polarizing though. I’m not sure it was clear what was being said by walking out. To some it meant, pass the obvious gun reform laws already, to others it meant ban guns. And then there were the Facebook responses to the walkout about standing up. Those were great hypothetically too but not if it means no work on gun laws or blaming students for violence against them. I just think it’s very nuanced and our country seems to have little room for someone in the middle.

  26. In response you the parallel to smoking. I think maybe that’s true but in a lot of ways so very different. I think smoking is a very unhealthy habit but I have no desire to stop someone else from smoking, especially at their own home. I definitely have heard many people say they don’t want me to own a gun, even if it’s registered and kept on my personal property.
    As far as socially unacceptable, that’s a very area based analysis because here in Idaho it’s socially VERY accepting of guns—right or wrong (I know you think wrong).
    From my point of view the underlying problem at hand is that people fear the government taking over too much of their lives. And I have some of this concern as well. I think it’s a slippery slope. So, I would fully support many gun reform legislations but it gets difficult when the end goal of many is to dictate my life choices. Maybe that’s silly but I feel that personal choice is critical.

    1. I hear you on not telling someone else they can’t smoke in their own home. I totally get that. Would it change our view if we knew someone smoked heavily around their kids? Putting them at risk for health problems from second-hand smoke?

      I think some people would argue that having guns in the home with kids is putting them in unnecessary danger. I think some would also argue that unless there are laws on how guns are required to be stored, and legal consequences if a gun owner doesn’t conform to those laws, then having a gun at home may be putting the neighborhood at risk too.

      How do we as community members know if a gun owner is safely storing guns? We have no way to tell. And if they’re not being stored safely (safely = a storage method that the whole country has legally agreed to), then that makes the community less safe.

      I know the smoking/gun parallel isn’t perfect. I’m actually more interested in the parallel from the social pressure perspective. I get that there’s no social pressure to give up guns in Idaho. The same is true in my own home town in Utah. But I can imagine it wouldn’t necessarily take much to change things. A few influential moms that won’t let their kids play in houses with guns could spark a community-wide perspective change. Or if people realized that a super low day can hit anyone, and if there’s a gun in the house, the low day can turn into a suicide in minutes (which I know sounds drastic but actually happens every single day).

      1. Interesting points. I will think about the smoking heavily around children analogy. I am very cautious about dictating what parents should do with their kids though. Obviously there are standards of abuse I agree with dictating against but it gets sticky in the middle. For example, I vaccinate my kids and feel very strongly it’s the best for them and the population at large but I don’t love the government forcing parents to do so. And guns isn’t actually the battle I would want to dig my heels into if I had to choose one. I’d be OK not owning any (in fact I lived a lot of life NOT owning a gun). I’m mostly invested on the “pro-gun” side because I’m for limited government involvement. Somewhere between the Wild West and communist. (And I genuinely worry about us being on the path towards the dictating side.)
        I’m not sure any of that is helpful. I definitely walk away with things to think about.

  27. What sticks in my mind is the text I received from my friend whose daughter attends MSD school.

    I’d texted to ask if her daughter was ok and my friend replied several hours later. Her daughter was alive and physically unharmed, but had to step over the bodies of her dead classmates in order to leave the classroom.

    I can’t get over this. No one should be able to get over this. In the past I’ve been respectful of the 2nd Amendment, but now? I honestly don’t care. Ban all guns. Take a page from Japan’s laws. I would rather ban all guns then have one more child slaughtered with a gun.

    It’s reached the tipping point for me.


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