I’m a photographer and gun violence prevention activist. For the past couple of years, I’ve been traveling the country to share the stories of gun violence survivors and the family/friends of victims. While I try very hard to keep politics out of the photographs, I sometimes do get into it a bit on Twitter — or, as I like to call it — the Port Authority of the Internet.
Here’s a typical conversation:
“It should be harder for toddlers to reach an unsecured gun and shoot themselves in the face.”
“FUCK YOU, YOU GUN-GRABBING LIBTARD!! COME AND TAKE IT, I DARE YOU!!”
Sometimes, it looks like this:
“Since 1994, the Brady Bill has blocked more than 1 million attempted purchases by felons.”
“YOU NAZI GUN-GRABBERS ARE ONLY AFTER CONTROL. YOU’LL NEVER STOP ME FROM DEFENDING MYSELF AND MY FAMILY.”
“The ‘gunsense’ movement is about keeping guns from dangerous hands — no more, no less.”
“IF YOU TAKE THE GUNS FROM LAW-ABIDING CITIZENS, ONLY CRIMINALS WILL HAVE GUNS. THEY DON’T FOLLOW LAWS, DUMBASS.”
So, instead of punching myself in the face, I thought I’d take to Medium — freeing myself from the 140 character chains that bind me — to say unequivocally to the activists and trolls that:
I. Do. Not. Want. Your. Gun.
Nor do I want to take away your right to have one — assuming, of course, that you’re the law-abiding, mentally-stable, non-abusive, reasonable, responsible person that you say you are. (Although I must admit that your rants about the government, Michael Bloomberg’s Judaism, the “thugs” in Chicago, and your concern that — at any second — people are going to burst into your home to kill and rape everyone aren’t exactly helping your case.)
No, I — along with countless others — simply want fewer needless deaths, fewer victims of suicides that could’ve maybe had a second chance, fewer needless injuries, and fewer families torn apart.
We believe that the way to get there is to make it harder for guns to get into dangerous, irresponsible, or mentally unstable hands in the first place.
We want what, in fact, around 90% of all Americans (and about 70% of NRA members) want — universal background checks. Every gun, every sale.
We want safe storage laws. Not so jackbooted goons can come storming into a home, demanding to see how the guns are stored, but so that there’s accountability and consequences for irresponsible actions. (Think laws don’’t serve as a deterrent? If there was no speed limit and paying taxes was optional, what would you do?)
We want it to be difficult for people who have domestic violence convictions — or domestic violence restraining orders placed against them — to obtain a gun.
We want to encourage, not gag, medical professionals from inquiring about the presence of guns in the homes of their patients who they deem to be at risk to themselves or others.
We want the CDC to be able to research gun violence and treat it the same way it would treat any epidemic that killed approximately 90 people a day — as a public health crisis.
Seriously, it’s not rocket surgery.