America is bathed in gun smoke. In less time than it takes to order a pair of kicks from Amazon, we’ve had not one, but three mass shootings. Our dead have reached the west coast, Texas, and Ohio. We’ve heard the company line of “thoughts and prayers,” and we’ve seen the news with weeping mothers, their jaws twisted in horror as one of their kids is laying under that blood-stained sheet.

Any of these people could be us. There is no invisible line separating you from the carnage. All you’ve been is lucky.

Both sides of the political fence are going to use the dead as props for an endless argument, and yet, they’ll still be dead. There’s nothing we can do for them, because after Sandy Hook when a murderer took the lives of those kids, it should have been the exclamation point in a very bitter paragraph in American history. But, despite Columbine and other mass shootings like Littlefield Colorado or the Pulse nightclub, laws aren’t signed, and we’re still allowing people to get their mitts on weapons that no civilian should own.

A garlic festival, back to school shopping and people just out having a few drinks – all three places turned into hellscapes. For what? Fragile egos. Three white men with nothing to lose had access to literal weapons of mass destruction and now we have scores of dead and wounded. A mother and her children were just trying to buy the items off the back to school list – something all of us have done or will do this week for our kids.

Any of these people could be us. There is no invisible line separating you from the carnage. All you’ve been is lucky.

We live in a climate of fear and hate. You can blame the man with the red hat, but this hate has always been there, America at large has done nothing to dig out the racists, the assholes clogging up the lanes in our lives. We give people a pass because they’re an uncle or a long-time friend who didn’t evolve like the rest of us. We can’t do that anymore. If your uncle Eric is a racist piece of shit who says super fucked up things, you might need to tell someone about it. If you notice a large stash of weapons or strange behavior or idle talk – you might need to say something to someone.

Too many people are decrying the “lone wolf” theory. Message boards like 8Chan are proving to be fertile grounds for these people. We need to do better and flush these rats out into the open. Extremist, racist assholes have to go.

We need to implement common-sense guns laws. We’ve already betrayed the dead by not making Congress act. While the NRA shoves dollars into the pockets of Senators and Representatives, more people are dying. Some of them even took bullets during a charity softball game, but money speaks louder than blood – even if it’s their own.

We’ll never solve the riddle of guns in America. They’re embedded in our culture, and we love violence. Having a six-shooter to defend your home is not the same thing as what’s happening right now. Responsible gun owners should be standing side by side with the people who want stricter laws and a national database. If you’re mentally ill, you don’t get a gun. (I’m diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression. I shouldn’t have a gun. But, I can walk into any shop in town and pick up an AR-15.) If you’re on the no-fly list. No weapon.

Common sense gun laws aren’t black and white, but they require a conversation on both sides of what you believe is right. Too many people are dying over an interpretation of what the Second Amendment means. When the framers of the Constitution wrote the document, people believed cocaine was medicine and leeches were used by doctors. People also didn’t have indoor plumbing.

I think we can figure out how to stop mad white dudes with guns straight out of video games to stop murdering one another. This is exhausting.

We’re better than this. No parent should get the call that their child was killed whether they’re six or sixty-five.

gun reform