I Don't Know How It Gets Better

I have literally nothing to say that will make this better.

We buried my mother-in-law last week. Ten years ago, a man who had had many terrible years decided it was someone else’s problem and shot her. Shot several people. People he’d never met. Through absolute heroics on the part of a trauma team less than a quarter-mile from the shooting, she lived. You could say she was “lucky,” but I’m not sure there’s a kind of lucky that leaves you permanently startling at every loud sound and going to surgery after surgery trying to patch together the lungs and blood vessels that the bullets ruined.

About thirty years ago was Columbine. And Columbine was just the first that breached my consciousness; it wasn’t the first. Not by a long shot.

And it isn’t everywhere. I’ve been to places where it isn’t. In Oslo, they erected a memorial to the victims of the one time in decades a man snapped and made it a crowd of strangers' problem with his gun. If we did that every time it happened here, there’d be dozens to hundreds of monuments in every city in America. We could melt down a hundred guns to make each one and… We wouldn’t make a dent in the number of firearms owned by Americans.

There are acquaintances of mine who would say that the only solution is more guns. That in a country that guarantees the right to keep and bear arms (in a way it didn’t in the Roaring 20s, but why let history get in the way of a good persecution complex?), the only way to protect you and yours is to arm up. I can’t see that (though in my darkest, in my most willing to use others for my own ends, I find myself in favor of arming every queer American, every black American, every native American with as many guns as they can hold. Arm the minorities more than the white folk, and watch this country’s interpretation of the Second Amendment shrink to a protection so weak you can walk through it. History’s shown it would happen). No; I don’t see a way forward that involves putting a weapon that lets you rack a double-digit body-count in seconds in the hands of more Americans who are just a few bad years from deciding it’s everyone’s problem.

I don’t have a solution. I don’t have a way forward. I don’t expect I’ll see a repeal or diminishment of firearm rights in my lifetime. I don’t think this gets better until we get tired of killing each other or we find a way for people to stop having bad years.

I miss having hope.