By Roberta Robles
This is the story of an accidental gun activist. It started last Thanksgiving. Our family comes together for a large raucous gathering every year. We have a few traditions that we carry on about: the cranberry sauce competition is usually won by my grandma and only has three ingredients vs my sister’s 17 ingredients sauce; my mother’s famous orange rolls are the only appetizer we are allowed to snack on before the real meal; and the real meal always includes everything made from scratch served with love. My grandma’s favorite job that she reminisces about was being the head cook in a prison facility. We are a family of proud cooks, this is our holiday!
This is also the first holiday that both of my children at 16 months and 2.5 years old have become exponentially curious and mobile. You may think a space or a home has been sufficiently childproof, but childproof means different things for different kids and you can’t really childproof grandma’s house without significant affront to heart and home. So I watched with eagle like peripheral vision on my two toddler tornados hoping they wouldn’t find grandma’s candy dish that was perched precariously on the top of an old book shelf.
My youngest son needed to have his diaper changed and grandma’s back bedroom with stain glassed windows seemed like a calm space to do the dirty business. Little did I ever think that the worst possible danger was beneath grandma’s bed. I laid my son down on the floor beside the bed, the calmest place in the house, and prayed he wouldn’t squirm the dirty business around. While turning to grab the diaper bag, my baby boy reached under the bed and grabbed a loaded handgun that was not equipped with a safety lock.
The rage of emotions is indescribable, like blind fear and anger like I have never known. I removed the gun without it discharging. Like a flash of primordial instinct I knew that if there had been a mortal accident I would have picked up that gun and killed the person who was responsible for leaving a loaded gun out (not grandma of course). The hysterical feeling blinded me with rage that came deep within my soul. This rage of pain cannot be forgotten easily and brings me to tears as I write this story down one year later. Needless to say, this encounter has not resolved itself in my mind, and has transformed me into an accidental activist for gun reform.
This Thanksgiving make sure you and your family are safe from gun accidents. Ask if there are guns in the home you are visiting and make sure they are stored safely. Use this time to think and talk about what is important to you and your family and ask others to join the movement for sensible gun reform measures.
The time for sensible gun legislation is now. It’s just a matter of time before another child dies accidentally at the end of a gun. Furthermore, I don’t want to receive another notification that a school has been closed down due to a ‘crazy-gun’ person being sighted or that my shopping center has been locked down due to a shooting. It is happening at a shocking rate.
I know that accidents and violence like this doesn’t happen in other countries with sensible gun legislation. Sensible gun legislation is the right thing to do right now. We can save lives, we can prevent accidents and we can keep guns within the hands of safe and responsible people.