Each Time This Happens

1 October 2015

Senator Claire McCaskill,
Senator Roy Blunt, and
Representative Vicki Hartzler,

I am your constituent. This fall marks my eleventh year living in the state of Missouri. Today marks the 41st time there has been a shooting at a school in the United States. It has to stop. Now.

I am not a card carrying member of the National Rifle Association. But my brothers are. My father was. I may not be a member, but I’m a pretty good shot. In actuality, none of this matters. I shouldn’t have to give you some proof that I’m on the right side of the ‘gun issue.’ I’m an American who is tired of seeing her countrymen, women, and children killed every single day. I’m a teacher who is tired of wondering if this will be the day when a student believes his ‘right’ to an “A” supersedes a professor’s right to live, and my campus is featured on the national news. I’m a rhetorician that is tired of the faulty logic and lack of logos used against calls for gun access reform. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. I guarantee you that Dylan Klebold, Eric Harris, James Holmes, Adam Lanza, Jared Loughner, and others wouldn’t have been able to kill the dozens they did, in mere minutes, if they had be forced to engage in hand-to-hand combat. I’m tired of being tired.

Change our world. Change it now.

We need universal background checks for guns. Please pay me and millions of other Americans a wee bit of respect and don’t try to tell us that this “won’t solve the problem.” It’s a start. Honest gun owners won’t have a problem proving they’re reasonable. Give them a chance to prove to you that they’re not spoiled, petulant children unable to play well with others.

Close the gun show loopholes that allow fast, quick, and far too easy methods of obtaining these handheld weapons of mass destruction. Save a family the pain of having to grieve their daughter’s death because it was more important for someone to take a rifle home one Saturday afternoon.

I kindly ask you to care, to give a damn about the millions of Americans who are tired of these murders. Why do you want more Americans to die, when simple measures have been proven to have a positive impact on reducing gun violence?

This fall marks my eleventh school year as a professor at Columbia College, in Columbia, Missouri. I’m a tenured professor of Communication Studies. This semester I’m teaching my students how to speak in public, how humans uniquely communicate, and how mass communication effects our society. Nine years ago I had a student rage about a grade he received on a speech. He stormed out of a staff member’s office with such anger and speed, that the employee called campus security. When the young man proclaimed “I’ll take care of this!”, the staff member feared for my safety. Unbeknownst to me, campus security and the Dean of Student Life, stood on watch, outside of my office as I naively went about my work at my desk. They left an hour later, grateful nothing had happened. I knew nothing of what had transpired until a colleague clumsily told me of the entire series of events. I truly consider myself lucky to be alive.

I’ve told friends, family, and colleagues that that day was transformative. Ever since then, I’ve felt in my core that I would die at school. Please work to prove me wrong. Please care enough about me and my students and my colleagues to protect us. Care about our country to change our violent culture, by enacting full and complete background checks for all gun purchases.

Amy L. Darnell, Ph.D.

p.s. Should I die at the hands of a student carrying a gun, I’ll be sure to tell my family to invite you to my funeral.

About Amy L. Darnell

Teacher, scholar, student, wonderer, wanderer, fan, foe, friend, acquaintance, all of these and more, but ultimately just an Ohio daughter.
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