Gun rights are right next to abortion in terms of ‘things you just don’t talk about because it’s offensive either way’ and usually, it’s true, I don’t like putting forth effort to offend people. But today is unusual and I’m proposing an exception to the rule, because 20 children (and seven adults) were killed this morning by a 20 year old with a glock, a sig sauer, and a bushmaster. They were killed in an elementary school. People all over my facebook feed pleaded with everyone to ‘not talk about gun control today,’ but I have to urge you to do just the opposite. Talk about it. Let’s talk aggressively about how guns are accessible and which ones exactly are accessible and how in the knife incident in China today no one was killed, because it takes longer to kill people with knives than assault rifles. Let’s talk about members of the public having combat weapons. Let’s talk about trusting parents to decide what responsible gun ownership is. No, really. Let’s talk. A lot. Let’s get angry and offended, because 20 children didn’t have to die like this. And by that I’m not being sentimental. I’m saying an autistic 20 year old man didn’t have to have access to a collection of made-for-combat weapons. The school cameras didn’t have to fail, the security system didn’t have to fail, and he never had to enter the school without signing in at the front desk.
He could have, his access to weapons being restricted, used a weapon that isn’t designed for combat, to very quickly take out multiple enemies. He could have killed maybe one, two people had he used a baseball bat or a bow. Maybe no children would’ve died.
I’ve had the maybes since December’s last school murder because I knew the killer. The Daily Mail reported that Chris Krumm told a friend that his dad deserved to be castrated. Instead of, you now, thinking about how messed up that was, the friend just shrugged him off and now our community is shaken up- two professors and a 25 year old are dead. I kept asking myself what if, even after being dissuaded from it. People told me I can’t live in a land of what-ifs, and that’s true, except for the fact that IF someone had talked to Chris prior to the incident, it’s disturbingly likely that we’d still have Jim and Heidi. But we don’t. So I moved on, with a new vow in my heart for advocacy for autistic people.
And obviously a lot of things went wrong today. But 20 people under the age of ten died. Twenty children. Children. Which meant, of course, that it was Gun Rights Day. A person bragged on one of my Facebook statuses that one of her children is mentally ill and has a picture of her shooting what looks similar to a Bushmaster as a cover photo. Another responded to statistics about gun control with ‘But in Israel, teachers are armed’ as if this would all be better if we put our children in less of a school and more of a police state. Several people argued that freedom and guns are just awesome and the reason we are free. (Primitive rifles that took about a half an hour to load, not Glocks, to be sure, but what am I saying? What’s the difference between that and a gun that can kill people in less than a second?) Because today, when 27 people died, was the optimal day to froth at the mouth about the glory of guns.
I don’t know any autistic people who weren’t shaken up today. CNN has decided to take the ‘autistic people have no empathy’ route, which is exactly what we were afraid of. Because we all prayed not again when we heard, and it happened again. It was one of us again. It was this community I clung to today, all of us weeping, burning in anger, and looking for a solution. And all of us are talking about it, and have lost friends because of it. But today? I don’t so much care. 20 children didn’t have to die today. They didn’t die because, you know, bad things happen. This was ridiculously preventable.
So this is a challenge: Don’t shut up, even when you are bullied and intimidated. Even when your friends are sending you mean messages and making storms on your Facebook statuses. Making people uncomfortable today isn’t a crime. If anything, America shouldn’t be comfortable about the state of their children and the ease with which you can buy a gun and use it to kill. Let’s not forget about this in three weeks. Let’s make sure this gets talked about, dealt with. Let’s keep taking to our Facebook newsfeeds with discussion about this, no matter who it offends. Let’s not let it become obscure by the new year, because we need to talk about guns. We need to talk. Let’s not let another school get shot up, another group of children die, before we do something about this.
20 children are, at the time of this being published, still laying on the ground of their classrooms, dead, because the police need to identify the bodies and continue the investigation. Let’s go beyond reposting graphics saying we’re praying for Connecticut. Let’s go beyond ‘what’s wrong with the world?’ Let’s make this a national issue. Let’s not shut up about it.