Category: Big Ideas

Stay home. Stay safe. The (perhaps intended) consequences of weapons of war in the hands of civilians.

Stay home. Stay safe. The (perhaps intended) consequences of weapons of war in the hands of civilians.

The Gilroy Garlic Festival. El Paso, until recently a bustling tourist town. Dayton’s Oregon district, a place for enjoyment.

Two deadly weekends in America. The spirit of the three communities crushed.

The carnage – local. The impact – universal.

Lessons are being learned: Your life is cheap. Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

We used to ponder terror in an abstract way. It was in someone else’s back yard. We would tut-tut over places like Syria, Lebanon, the Sudan, Sierra Leone, and Thailand under the Khmer Rouge. We would send of few bucks to a humanitarian charities and pray for those people.

Yes, we’ve experienced terror on a grand scale in the US. Anyone who was in New York City on 9/11/2001, or who knew someone in New York on that day can never shake the images. Time, though has dulled the edge of that memory.

But now we are constantly reminded: Terror is possible just around your corner. At your place of worship. Where you shop. At that festival you attend every year. At the movies. At your local bar. On public transportation. Anywhere where people gather.

The reasons behind acts of domestic terror are various. But the common thread is a type of gun, an assault weapon like the AR15 that can fire many rounds per second. Weapons of War, in the hands of a civilian.

Some kid. Somebody you might know.

As we hear of each new carnage, we learn. We adapt. We think twice before we go out of the house. When we are out and about,we carefully scan our environment for signs of an attack. We look for places where we could hide from an “active shooter.” But we know that AR15’s can cut through just about any material, and so we just pray that it’s not us.

Please God, not here. Not today.

Each day that nothing is done to change the omnipresence of assault weapons, the likelihood increases that next time, the carnage will happen where we are. Maybe, to us.

We may begin to prefer a perpetual sheltering in place, at home.

At scale, this means a population largely immobilized. Sick from fear, effectively silenced, listening to a monologue of manipulation from social media and the news.

A few will still plan their moment of fame with a gun, an easily acquired assault weapon.

This future is not inevitable. Changing this dark fate takes common sense and guts, but it can be done. Start with the easy thing: Pass the gun reform laws that are on the table now. And then move on to the hard, but essential action: Ban assault rifles in the hands of civilians.