I never have and never will understand my country’s obsession with guns, but I have some notions and opinions. Forgive me if they don’t flow. Pretend you’re watching the daily whack-a-mole that used to be the news.

If Sandy Hook didn’t change things, why get my hopes up that articulate high school kids can change things? As a result of their movement, Florida raised the age for buying guns a measly three years, but didn’t touch AR15s. I still mourn those babies who were shot to bits at Sandy Hook, and the sentient president who came the next day and shed tears. These days, we have a deficit of heroes.

And still nothing changes. We can hate the NRA, but we can’t blame the NRA. All the NRA does is give money to candidates and elected officials who block gun laws, and threaten to run a candidate against them if they go rogue. There is nothing preventing legislators from looking in the mirror as they shave or put on their lipstick and saying to themselves, “This is wrong. The worst that can happen to me is I lose, go home, write a book, become a lobbyist, or God forbid, spend some time with my family.” 

But that won’t fulfill the lust for power.

I never imagined how obsessively important guns are to so many people. Apparently there are more guns than people in our country and about a third of us own guns. Why? The gun culture has a vise on our identity, ethics, spirit and common sense.

I see several threads in the gun culture: Gun owners will say it’s about protection and sport, but except for people in rural areas, it’s really about control. 

Guns give people a sense that they’re in control. We all need to feel we’re in control, but as we grow older, we realize that control is limited. At any time we can be struck down by any number of things, real or imagined. Guns don’t protect against disease, broken hearts, fire or floods. They only do harm.

One of the weakest fixes suggested in response to gun violence is the empty promise to make sure guns don’t fall into the hands of the mentally ill. How will gun dealers know who’s mentally ill? The scariest thing about any mental illness list, card, tattoo, whatever, is that it reeks of fascism, something our current president fancies.

Besides, if everyone in Oak Park who is or has been treated for mental illness, or is taking medication for it, walked out of their houses, we’d have a village-wide block party.

There is evil in the world and there are evil people. I think all evil people are mentally ill, but not all mentally ill people are evil.

Take assault weapons. Please. Who the hell needs an assault weapon outside of the military and law enforcement? Think of the bodies of those children, the first-graders at Sandy Hook Elementary and the high school kids at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

By the way, it’s time to call out hunting as an obsolete sport. Why kill another living thing for sport? Joe Scarborough said on Morning Joe that he buys guns and will buy guns for his children to go hunting, “which is part of our culture.” 

How about stepping outside your culture? Isn’t education the essence of stepping outside your culture? Isn’t growth the act of examining your culture with a critical eye — emulating the good and discarding the bad? 

Joe, you quit the Republican Party. Why can’t you quit guns?

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Mary Kay O'Grady

Mary Kay O'Grady is a former high school English teacher and later owned her own public relations business, The O'Grady Group. She has lived in Oak Park for almost fifteen years. She is currently the chairperson...