For years I’ve seen the guns every time I visit. They’ve been in plain sight. They’re neatly stacked against the fireplace brick.
I’ve also seen some of the dead animals, the stuffed trophies mounted above the hearth. I’ve eaten from fresh kills of doves, quail, geese, and deer.
I know the guns I see aren’t loaded. Definitely not. The family is ultra cautious with firearms. They abide by all the rules, purchase the appropriate hunting licenses every year, and maintain flawless records of gun safety.
Yet why do I feel uneasy seeing the old firearms now, when I hadn’t felt uneasy before?
Perhaps because our culture has changed.
While firearms have always been used to kill people in wars, in personal arguments, and in moments of despair, they weren’t always used to kill bystanders in grocery stores, in movie theaters, and in elementary schools.
In many states like my own Alabama, you can see guns on hips when you’re eating a chicken biscuit at Hardees, or peeking out of your girlfriend’s purse when you’re riding together in her car. But having guns everywhere isn’t making us safer. Twenty years of data have proven that guns in the hands of civilians have not reduced targeted violence. In only a very few incidents has an armed civilian successfully stopped a shooter.
I also see guns in my own house. My husband learned to hunt with his father and grandfathers and uncles. It’s a family tradition. He’s never had to even buy one himself. They’re passed down through the generations as family heirlooms.
Our firearms stay locked away, safely secured. I don’t have to worry about a child accidentally finding one, or about guests playing with one.
But not every home is so secure. Not every child is blocked from walking around with a loaded gun. Actually, 4.6 million children in the U.S. live in a household with at least one loaded, unlocked gun.
As I read more books about guns this year, it’s disturbing.
Below are five books I recommend from what I’ve read this year, both as a gun owner AND as an advocate for more reasonable gun laws. I encourage you to get more educated about gun use and gun laws, too, whether from books, advocacy groups, conversations, or your own research.
Then do what you can to encourage responsible gun ownership and legislation. Not to take away all guns from all people. But to use common sense to keep guns out of the hands of irresponsible people or people in a mental health crisis, just like we do with cars, with medicines, etc.
Regardless of where you stand politically, aren’t we all on the same side of wanting fewer deaths from gun violence? Fewer suicides? Fewer domestic abuse cases?
Have conversations. Learn facts. Promote better laws. Vote for responsible representatives. Buy a gun safe. Join or donate to organizations doing the work.
And maybe read some books, too.
1. Standing Our Ground
The Triumph of Faith Over Gun Violence: A Mother’s Story
by Lucy McBath
This story by Lucy McBath is about her 17-year-old son Jordan who was shot dead at a gas station by a man who thought Jordan was playing music too loud on his car stereo.
2. Find the Helpers
What 9/11 and Parkland Taught Me About Recovery, Purpose, and Hope
by Fred Guttenberg
When Fred Guttenberg heard there was an active shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, he didn’t know his precious 14-year-old daughter Jaime was one of the victims, changing his own life forever.
3. How to Talk About Guns with Anyone
by Katherine Schweit
Educate yourself with this easy-to-follow book about all things related to firearms: its history, court decisions, current legislation, the Second Amendment, and all types of weapons.
4. The Violence Inside Us
A Brief History of an Ongoing American Tragedy
by Chris Murphy
Learn about the origin of violence in the United States, and the path it has traveled through the years, plus what we can do now to save lives.
5. Fight like a Mother
How a Grassroots Movement Took on the Gun Lobby and Why Women Will Change the World
by Shannon Watts
Shannon Watts describes why and how she started Moms Demand Action, a grassroots movement to protect people from gun violence (loosely modeled on MADD, Moms Against Drunk Driving) after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.
It’s not impossible to change our attitudes, our cultural divisions, and our gun laws.
Together, all our individual things can add up to a better and safer world for everyone.
It’s Week 4 of Nonfiction November. We’re linking our posts with Rebekah at She Seeks Nonfiction about Worldview Shapers, books that change the way we see the world.
Do you know someone who has died from gun violence? Do you have a book you’d recommend? Share your thoughts in the comments.
- When the Children Go Hide
The kids knew how to respond to this active shooter situation (I didn’t). Should I be glad? Or devastated?
- If You Can’t Offer a Guarantee, Cry About It
Her grandson was murdered. All I could offer was presence, with no guarantees.
- Hey You, One Person, Keep Doing This One Thing
Like my thing in the group for gun violence prevention, your thing may not be glamorous either. But keep doing your one thing. It matters.
- When the Bad Thing Does NOT Happen
My daughter heard the shots. She saw the shooter. When something bad happens, it gets our attention. But when it doesn’t? Do we notice?
- You’re Going to Mess Up. So Also Do This.
- Tell Your One Word 2023 “Thank You!”