If You Had A Childhood, You Can Understand This Analogy About Gun Reform

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By De Elizabeth

I can remember the sensation of putting a slap bracelet on my wrist like it was yesterday. The first one I had was neon pink with a black leopard print pattern, and it was the perfect accessory for my little kid self. Of course, it wasn’t enough to have one slap bracelet. I soon built a collection of fabric-covered metal accessories, all of which were some shade of neon. I kept them in my Caboodle in my bedroom, and started the day by picking which slap bracelet I wanted to wear. I would, of course, absent-mindedly take the bracelet off and slap it back on throughout the day, much to the annoyance of my teachers.

Sometime in elementary school, I remember our class being told that slap bracelets (also called Slap Wraps) would no longer be allowed in schools. This was after one of my classmates sliced her arm open on one of the cheap knock-offs and had to get stitches.

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Much to my dismay, my mom learned about this incident (as all moms know everything) and she took away my slap bracelet collection, leaving my Caboodle empty, save for a few Lip Smacker tubes and scrunchies.

All over the country, fashionable elementary students were deprived of their Slap Wraps as many schools started banning them – and parents followed suit.

Beyond the fact that the slap bracelets were a danger to ourselves (my classmate cut herself when simply putting the bracelet back on after gym class), they were also becoming weapons on the playground. I remember one kid sitting outside the principal’s office for an entire afternoon after he used a slap bracelet to whip another student.

This wasn’t the only toy that our generation both loved and lost. Who can remember playing with Sky Dancers?

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After reports of over 100 injuries, these flying fairies were recalled and banned. The press release announcing the recall stated that among the reported injuries there were: “eye injuries, including scratched corneas and incidents of temporary blindness, broken teeth, a mild concussion, a broken rib, and facial lacerations that required stitches.” All from a flying fairy toy.

I’m sure you’re wondering how this relates to gun reform.

This week, the U.S. senate rejected a series of suggested measures that would help strengthen background checks in conjunction with gun purchases, making it more difficult for suspected terrorists to buy guns. Additionally, it is far too easy to purchase assault-style weapons in our country, not to mention how easy it is to purchase a gun in general. One woman was able to purchase an AR-15 in seven minutes flat. That’s shorter than an episode of Full House. That’s less time than it takes to bake a dozen cookies. And let’s not even talk about how that compares to the wait time for purchasing other things, like cars, or even a freaking iPhone.

Back to the slap bracelets and Sky Dancers.

When we were kids, we were able to understand that our parents and teachers weren’t trying to take away our toys; they were simply trying to keep us safe from the toys that were considered the most dangerous, or ones that could be easily abused. And because our classmates were getting hurt, because so many of our peers were getting sliced up from slap bracelets or going temporarily blind from Sky Dancers, we had to stop playing with them too. The majority was affected by the minority, but it was what was best for us as a society, as a community of kids. There were other toys to play with. We got over it.

No one is trying to completely repeal the second amendment or “take away your guns”  as so many gun reform opposers put it. For those who truly believe that – you simply aren’t listening. That said, there is literally no need to own a military-grade weapon. Not if you hunt. Not if you shoot for sport. Not if you just “want to be able to defend yourself” against the hypothetical break-in. No. Need.

And I’m not trying to compare guns and toys in a literal sense, because guns are certainly not toys, and let’s not even go down the road of plastic weapons in the toy industry. But a lot of gun-owning Americans purchase their guns for hobby-related purposes, or for sport. And when you put a hobby up against another person’s life, it should be clear which is more valuable. And if it’s not clear, let me explain it: Your hobby is not more important than the lives lost in the Orlando shooting. Your hobby is not more important the children who were killed in Sandy Hook. Yes, your hobby is meaningful to you, but it is not more important than human life. We should all be able to agree on that, regardless of our political leanings.

For anyone who agrees with me, please do something besides share this article. Please call your senator.  Or donate to EveryTown, an organization devoted to ending gun violence and changing the laws that promote it. Or watch this John Oliver segment to understand why you really need to call your senator multiple times in order to – maybe – get anything done (but then actually call after you watch it.)

And to those who don’t agree, to those who are reading this and feeling angry, or feeling like the liberals “don’t get it,” or that we want to take away your rights, please understand – that’s not what this is about. We just want to make it harder for people who shouldn’t own guns to get them. We want to make it harder for people to kill dozens of people at once. We want to make it so these things don’t keep happening, so we don’t keep tweeting out our prayers every few months, so we don’t have PreK students practicing for mass shootings, so we don’t continue down this rabbit hole of violence and hatred that has grown to define our country.

And lastly, above all, if owning a gun makes you feel patriotic, think about this: Isn’t it patriotic to help one another? Isn’t it patriotic to care about your fellow community members? Isn’t it patriotic to protect minorities from being targeted from hate crimes? Isn’t it patriotic to simply care about the lives of our fellow Americans?

We need a change. We needed that change yesterday. We needed it months ago. But it is only going to happen if we all work together.

{featured image via unsplash}

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