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It's the Guns. And the People.

Today's post isn't about divorcing a high conflict or abusive person, or post separation abuse, or even healing from trauma. You see for a while, I was a news junkie--I sat back in my office with cable news running in the background for several years, watching this country implode (from my perspective). It may not have been the healthiest of activities, but I also felt like I owed it to the country to pay attention, because I hadn't for so long. I haven't done that in several years now, but I made a vow to stay aware of current events--to know what is going on in the world--to pay attention. So most mornings I log into YouTube and I watch the Nightly News with Lester Holt from the night before. It's straightforward, non-partisan, factual, without all the commentary and guests pontificating on the evils of one particular agenda or another.

This morning I saw the story about Ralph Yarl, the black teen who was shot in the head (twice-once after he was already on the ground from the first shot) but miraculously survived. An 84-year-old white man opened his door and shot that boy in the head twice. As heinous as that sounds, let's take a moment to think about what kind of mental state that man had to have been in to open his front door, armed, and without hesitation, shoot the human being standing there. Ralph fell to the ground after the first shot, clearly no longer a threat (not that he had been in the first place) and the guy shot him in the head again. Let that sink in. What could he possibly have been so afraid of?

Ohhhh...that's right...Ralph was black. I've heard enough of the news to know that this was very much racially motivated--that the man shot Raplh because he was black. I don't think it's a stretch to assume that this 84 year-old white man is a racist and has probably spent a good number of the last 15-20 years listening to Fox News and other right-wing media outlets and people that continue to stoke the fear that "they" <insert minority> are coming to get us or that they are the reason for all that's wrong in this country. They're living in a bubble where they are constantly being told they should be afraid and that they better have their guns ready to defend themselves and their property at all costs.

It's easy to look at this particular situation and blame the racism, and that's valid. After I watched the news this morning, I came back to my office to do a few things, scrolling social media before I moved on to adulting for the day. And there was the story about Kaylin Gillis, a 20-year-old white woman, who was shot and killed because she and her friends turned into the wrong driveway. They didn't even get out of the car. They realized they were in the wrong place and were in the process of turning around, until the 65 year-old white man came out of his home and fired two shots at them, killing Kaylin.

So you may be thinking that Kaylin being white goes against the point I'm trying to make here, but that fact is the point. It doesn't matter who the "them" is for people who have been brainwashed and convinced that everyone is out to get them. A black man (boy) at your front door must mean he's there to murder you, right? A car full of young white people in your driveway must be those hippie lib-tards coming to take your guns away--and clearly the only option is to shoot them. It's your god given right! <insert sarcasm because I don't believe any god gives two shits about your guns>.

Here's a fun exercise: Imagine for a minute both of those scenarios, only this time, take guns out of the equation. Young black teen attempting to pick up his younger twin brothers shows up at the wrong house and rings the doorbell. 84 year-old racist white guy inside either goes with option A) ignore the bell and don't answer the door B) call the police or C) opens the door and yells racial slurs at the boy. You could even give the guy a bat in your scenario if you'd like--because whether his fear is justified or racist in nature, it exists and he would want to be protected. In that case I see the boy look wide-eyed at the man with the bat and quickly realize he's in the wrong place. He runs back to his car while the racist screams vulgarities at him. But then he calls his mom, gets the right address, and goes and picks up his brothers. We never hear about Ralph Yarl. It's easy to imagine Kaylin and her friends just driving off, not even aware that the guy who lived there was watching to make sure they weren't there to cause harm. Or maybe he does come out--in his bathrobe, yelling "Get off my lawn!" and waving his arms like a lunatic. Kaylin and her friends have a good laugh...and return to their friends and families.

The gun "debate" in this country shouldn't be a debate at all. It should be a conversation where the goal is to protect our citizens. There is no single place safe in this country. We can't go to Walmart, the grocery store, concerts, dance clubs, churches, banks, or send our kids to school without the fear of gun violence. We have an epidemic in this country. Guns are now the leading cause of death among children in this country.

We've let this toxic gun culture invade every part of our lives, while at the same time allowed the slow and steady stoking of fear and the demonization of "the others" in every possible way. Mental health does need to be part of the discussion, but mental health isn't the issue here. It's the guns, the fear mongering, the hate, and the idea that you're not a real 'Murican if you're not ready to literally kill for your rights to own them.

Several years ago, I was awakened in the middle of the night--the lights were on in the front room, the dog was kind of barking, and my then husband was nowhere to be found. He came back a minute or two later, breathing hard and telling me to call the police. There had been a guy under our carport, going through the center console of my vehicle. My then-husband chased him for a couple of blocks until he got down into a culvert, panting and out of breath, swearing that he didn't take anything. One of the comments my then husband made was "next time I'll have my gun." No, no, no...there is nothing in my vehicle, including the vehicle itself that would be worth taking a life over. Imagine for a moment that he had just walked out and shot the guy? We were in Texas at the time, so honestly, my husband probably wouldn't have been charged with anything, even if he'd killed the guy. But how do you live with yourself knowing that you killed a human being? Over what? Some fast-food napkins, sunglasses--maybe a buck or two in change?

I'm frustrated today that we live in a world where this keeps happening. And we as a country keep doing nothing but argue about what the real problem is. It's the guns. And the people. When will it be enough?

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