As I held it in my hand, I felt nauseated. It was heavy, heavier than I expected. It was cold. It was frightening. It was a gun. My husband was a slight gun enthusiast and I was staunchly opposed. He was a responsible gun owner, I guess. Never in the house, always in a safe, no ammo ever in our home or with the guns. They were merely for range shooting. I tried to feel okay with this, but the reality is that it made me (makes me) wildly uncomfortable. Having two sons, I don’t want any firearm around them, in any situation. But for some reason, I agreed to go to the gun range with him. In his mind, if I could spend a moment enjoying something he enjoyed, I might ease up a bit.
I don’t know why I agreed. Maybe the combination of being asked every other day and the desire to just get it over with? I have no idea. But I went. I knew it would mean a lot to him and I hoped we could get it over with quickly. We walked into the storefront and I was surrounded by guns. I immediately clammed up and felt defensive. I wanted to turn and leave but I kept walking. Everyone there was so kind and so welcoming. I thought maybe it wouldn’t be so bad after all. My husband rented a lightweight (lightweight my ass though) gun and we purchased the ammo and waited our turn to go into the range.
We walked in and my husband started teaching the basics of gun safety. Don’t take the gun over the white line, got it. Don’t point the gun anywhere except towards the target, okay understood. Here’s how you load, unload, here’s how you stand, now hold it. Hold it.
Hold the gun, Caitlin.
It made me sick to the stomach. It felt like a heavy, metal cloud of evil. I knew this was a bad idea. I was vehemently opposed to this. Why was I pressured to come to a place that would undoubtedly make me feel wildly uncomfortable? I held it up at chest level and pointed it toward the target. I can’t even put into words how I felt. I felt cold and hot, adrenaline running through my body. My throat felt tight and my arms loose and wobbly. I just stood there. Alright, everything is good pull the trigger. Go ahead, pull it.
Pull the trigger, Caitlin.
So many images flashed through my mind. I remembered watching the Newtown, CT coverage when my oldest son was a few months old and crying, begging that this would be the end. We can’t let this go on! I remembered my friend posting to our mom group, “My husband just went into a meeting and there was a shooter and I can’t get a hold of him” and my chest tightening. I remember the sheer disbelief and heavy grief when we found out hours later that he was, in fact, a victim of that shooter. I remembered Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and Chris Kyle—all lost senselessly to gun violence.
It was a split second and then over. The tears came before I could stop them. There was too much power in this weapon. A weapon designed to kill people. There was too much grief in this weapon. Grief from losing lives far too soon for far too little. There was too much emotion in this weapon. Emotion that comes over me in waves and terrifies me daily. I wept for twenty full minutes. I got a lot of stares and my husband was visibly embarrassed by my crying. I told him I was done and I wasn’t going to do it again. One round and I couldn’t handle it. He finished the ammo and we decided to leave. Now, as liberal as I am, I married a man who is former military and “pro-gun." But you know what else? He is also pro-gun reform.
Guns are too easily obtained. We could sit here and argue facts all day, but the truth is that I don’t feel safe sending my children to school. I don’t feel safe when my sons go to the movies with their dad. I don’t feel safe when I take them out to dinner. There are too many guns, too easily available, and too many loopholes to legally make this happen. Will criminals still get the guns they want? Maybe. But why do we allow it to be so easy? I held a gun and it make me feel far too powerful. I hated the way it made me feel. And I worry about the fact that people who enjoy that feeling and are violent, mentally ill, on terror watch lists, white supremacists, and troubled can get guns. There is something unsettling about that. It was harder for me to get my drivers license than it was for my husband to buy a gun. Actually, it was harder to get my first job—three interviews, a drug test, a license—than it was for my husband to buy a gun.
We need our lawmakers to do something. We need to demand that they do something. After the shooting in Florida, I have been overwhelmed with sadness and grief that this is still happening, how is this still happening? But I have also been overwhelmed with a sense of hope and spirit. The way the survivors of that tragedy have spoken out and are holding their officials accountable is so strong and beautiful. The GOP as we know it will not exist in twenty years, and that fills me with such optimism for our future. We have to follow the lead of these survivors and listen to them. They are literally begging us to protect them, and we are doing nothing. Unacceptable.
And that changes now. We’ve already seen change happening with Dick’s Sporting Goods and Wal-Mart, both stores that have pledged to change the way guns are sold in their stores. And this month, a portion of all proceeds goes to Moms Demand Action. We are tired of the senseless gun violence. Of anyone being able to pick up a gun from their local Wal-Mart (where, by the way, I can’t even buy a Kinder Egg for my five-year-old son because they are too dangerous). This stops with us. We need change, and we are making it happen. And right now we are making it happen by helping Moms Demand Action.
Moms Demand Action was founded by stay-at-home mom Shannon Watts on December 15, 2012, in response to the devastating shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The organization quickly flourished into a leading force for gun violence prevention, with chapters in all 50 states and a powerful grassroots network of moms that has successfully effected change at the local, state and national level. In December 2013, Moms Demand Action partnered with Mayors Against Illegal Guns to unite a nationwide movement of millions of Americans working together to change the game and end the epidemic of gun violence that affects every community.
Moms Demand Action supports the 2nd Amendment, but we believe common-sense solutions can help decrease the escalating epidemic of gun violence that kills too many of our children and loved ones every day. Whether the gun violence happens in urban Chicago, suburban Virginia, or rural Texas, we must act now on new and stronger gun laws and policies to protect our children. Moms Demand Action envisions a country where all children and families are safe from gun violence. Our nonpartisan grassroots movement has grown to include a chapter in every state across the country. We are educating, motivating, and mobilizing supporters to take action that will result in stronger laws and policies to save lives.
We are facing a public health crisis: seven American children or teens are shot and killed every day. For too long, the gun lobby has dominated the conversation about gun violence. American families are being destroyed and we have had enough; we will no longer stand by and let elected officials, corporate leaders and other influential voices turn their back on sensible gun laws and policies. We are organizing to apply pressure that will result in stronger, sensible gun laws and policies that will protect our children and families. The momentum is with us, and we are winning.Contact your officials here. Follow legislation happenings here. Text ENOUGH to 644-33 today to join Moms Demand Action in the fight to prevent gun violence and pass gun sense legislation. Attend town halls. Vote out NRA puppets. Let’s make a change, starting today. And especially with mid-terms in a few months. Enough is enough and we can make it happen. Let’s start now.