All over the United States today, people are marching to demand an answer to one question - what is the cost of a gun? The monetary answer is simple: a few hundred, maybe a few thousand dollars. The political answer draws a line between friends, between families, between neighbors.
None of those are the true cost of a gun.
Students - rightly, heroically - have stood to their feet to say that they know the true cost and that they no longer should be asked to pay it. It is simultaneously an inspiring thing to witness from an age group that is constantly told it doesn’t care about or believe in anything and a damning conviction of anyone who let the problem escalate to this point.
“Children are being murdered” should be the first, last, and only argument that ever needs to be made, although we certainly started losing the thread when we accepted any unnecessary loss of life at any age.
I’m not asking you to give up your guns though. I’m not demanding that someone come to your house and take them. What I’m asking is that, at least for today, at least for one day, you take the opinions that you have about guns and you lay them down. There is a time for battle and this is, quite frankly, not yours.
Now, I know there’s a document floating around that’s a couple hundred years old that says something about rights as it pertains to this topic. Putting aside the concept of historical context (which it’s absolutely foolish to do), I want you to think about what it really says.
It starts with “A well regulated militia,” and people often try to put the most important stuff at the very beginning. How do we decide who’s a member of one of these militias and who’s responsible for their regulation? Anyway, I’m not sure a militia of any kind is relevant in a country with the largest and most powerful army in the world, but to go down the path of questioning the relevance of any part of this is to start the snowball’s roll down a steep hill.
It’s also worth noting that making something harder to do, like buy a gun, is not infringing from doing it. It’s an inconvenience, but if we’re sticking to the letter of the text, there’s nothing in there that says inconvenience is wrong, so we all should be on board.
Again, that’s just when we put the historical context aside. If we throw that into the mix, we should have some serious questions about why this one was eleven before the one that ended slavery and seventeen before the one that gave women the right to vote. Maybe these men hundreds of years ago did not write a infallible document that took into account every future consequence.
You will be asked to do hard things as an American. Aaron Sorkin once wrote that “America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ‘cause it’s going to put up a fight.”
Today, I’m asking you to do one of those hard things. Take your opinion that your right to a gun is more important than a child’s right to live and put it away. Lock it in the safe where you keep your gun. You don’t need to defend yourself right now.
There are a bunch of kids (and parents of kids, and supporters of kids, and people who were once kids, and people who are trying to have kids) who plan to march today to say that the cost that they’ve been asked to pay for your rights to possess a weapon is no longer tenable. Let them say it. Let them scream it. Let them demand our government take better care of them because eventually, they are going to be us and maybe if we show them that things can change for the better, that life can be valued above everything that is not life, maybe there will be hope for a better future.
We owe it to them to at least let them try. At the very least, let them try to be able to live their lives until they’re old and they’re asked to make way for a younger generation with demands about how things should be fixed.