You know what? You should lock your doors

As we all know, Trump issued an executive order that caused protests and outcries from many. #NoBanNoWall became the defining message on social media from all opposed. Conversely, those in support of protecting our borders shared the following image as a justification:


I understand why this is perceived as a logical argument. I understand why people share in support of Trump’s actions. Self-preservation is a very real instinct we have to protect ourselves from harm, and it’s not wrong to live as safely as possible. The problem in our world today is we aren’t safe at all.

I agree with you – you should lock your doors. And maybe stay off the internet as well. Let me explain.

We live in an unstable country with inadequate gun laws. Mental health issues plague so many, yet outdated social stigmas still quiet those affected and cause others to keep suspicious behavior to themselves. This alone is reason to lock your doors.

Since 1949, we’ve had 29 shootings in the United States where eight or more people were killed. More than half occurred within the past 12 years. Most were in public places, like schools and workplaces specifically targeted, as well as a McDonald’s and a gunman just walking down the street, firing at whoever crossed his path.

So yes, you are smart to lock your doors because there is clearly a great threat in our country. Ourselves.

According to CDC research, “For every one American killed by an act of terror in the United States or abroad in 2014, more than 1,049 died because of guns” (Bower, CNN, 2016).

Specifically, 440,095 died from firearms in the United States from 2001 to 2014, including homicide, suicide and accident. Compare that to the US citizens who were killed overseas from terrorism from 2001 to 2014 – 369. Including domestic acts of terrorism in that time span, specific acts of terrorism killed 3,412 Americans (Bower, CNN, 2016).

In a nutshell: Terrorism has killed less than one percent of all the people in the United States killed by guns.

Another note: If you want to pull the ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’ argument out, that’s fine. Just know in 2013 alone 505 people were killed from negligent or accidental misfire. Accidents happen all too often when guns aren’t properly stored or cleaned, allowing the innocent and unknowing to be hurt.

If you’re mad right now, breathe, this isn’t a post to argue we should get rid of guns. I understand we have a Second Amendment right and I don’t think that’s the solution. In several of the most deadly shootings we’ve experienced, issues with background checks around gun permits were discovered.

Most recently, Omar Saddiqui Matteen went into Pulse Nightclub in Orlando and opened fire, killing 49 in what remains our deadliest shooting. He worked as a security guard for G4S and co-workers noted his hatred for Black people, women, Jews, Hispanics and the LGBTQ community. In his background check to get his gun for work, he claimed he was cleared by a psychologist who hadn’t actually been in Florida for years. A clerical error was noticed, but when Matteen offered an explanation, he was issued the permit anyway. His file was one of many discovered to have not gone through the proper methods to issue a gun.

In many of the cases, the guns were obtained legally. Some were illegally transferred or modified, but all the initial checks were conducted accurately and thoroughly. The problem then becomes the rampant spread of attacks and mental health issues.

Almost all the gunmen who attacked schools researched previous school shootings and hailed their predecessors as heroes. Information was found in Seung-Hui Cho’s room after he killed 32 at Virginia Tech where he praised the Columbine shooters. They become martyrs to students looking for answers when the pain and aggression becomes a jumbled mess in their heads. They represent the only outlet for freedom.

When talking about shootings, I’m sure in your mind you’re thinking of some of the other recent shootings involving Muslims. Let’s talk about those. Out of the 29 shootings, three were Muslims who attacked because of their religion. All were American-born and none had parents who came from the seven countries now banned under Trump.

In his final hours, Matteen swore allegiance to ISIS, but there were no connections prior to his attack. Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik (a lawful permanent resident), who are responsible for the San Bernardino shootings, were radicalized by what they read online and discussed being jihadis before they were even married. Again, there were no actual connections to a terrorist group. In 2009, Nidal Hasan killed 13 at Fort Hood in Texas. He was a deeply religious man, and mortified at the idea of his impending deployment to Afghanistan where he would be called upon to fire upon his fellow Muslims. He was court marshaled and ultimately it was determined his act was not one of terrorism.

Three out of 29. Another three out of 29 statistic is three of the biggest shooters grew up with gun enthusiast parents who taught them how to shoot and clean and even took them to shooting ranges. Do we condemn people who own and train their children on guns because it may result in a mass shooting?

At least three of the 29 stemmed from racist, sexist and white supremacist tendencies. Hatred for those who are different led the shooters to attack. In 1991, George Hennard crashed his truck into a Luby’s and passed over men when firing to kill women, calling them snakes and bitches as he did so. Dylan Roof self-radicalized after reading about the Trayvon Martin shooting and became a white supremacist based on the evidence online.

I do believe terrorism is a real and present threat in our country, because a terrorist is someone who uses unlawful violence to achieve his or her political aims. Basically, if you’re attacking to make a statement about your beliefs, you’re a terrorist.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer used last month’s attack in Quebec as an example of why we must remain vigilant on our borders, causing many to be confused. The suspect, Alexandre Bissonette, was a University student and spent two years in Canada’s cadet program. While his motives remain unclear, we do know he’s a white, Canadian citizen who attacked a specific group of people in their place of worship. Media labeled him a ‘lone wolf,’ while in fact he is a terrorist.

He is the reason we lock our doors inside our borders. By creating a cloud of fear around people of different races and religion, we begin to radicalize our neighbors and friends. We begin to see the worst in every group of people instead of believing in the best.

Yes, there will always be groups out to get other people. We can’t change the fact that ISIS is out there. By proposing a Muslim registry and banning entry from seven predominantly Muslim countries, we’re feeding into the myths that they believe.

Even President Donald J. Trump himself believes that “all of the tragic mass murders that occurred in the past several years have something in common – there were red flags that were ignored.” Please note this includes both the Pulse Nightclub shooting and San Bernardino, one we’re quick to focus on as terrorist attacks and nothing more.

Like me, he believes expanding mental health programs and understanding is essential to helping people. We also share the opinion that most people with mental health are non-violent and pose no threat. I agree that mental health reforms can help us all.

But then he goes on to say the government can’t tell us what kinds of firearms are good, therefore eliminating the ban on certain guns. I understand we have the right to bear arms to protect ourselves, but why would we need a machine gun to accomplish this? Certainly you wouldn’t be carrying it if suddenly you were in the middle of a hostage situation. Would you mow down a trespasser on your property just because you could? I’m not a hunter, but I believe you want a meticulous shot when killing an animal so you don’t affect the meat.

[Note: When I researched this earlier in the day of February 8, this information was listed clearly on his website here, but now it says 404 Page Not Found. This is why you should always screenshot]

I won’t pretend to have the solution for the gun/mental health problems our country faces, but because they show a much clearer present threat, I wish the president and the people would commit to fixing ourselves before blaming someone else.

After World War I, Germany was in a bad place economically after losing and signing the Treaty of Versaille. A young leader arose with a plan, based on his intense hatred for the Jewish people. By blaming hardship on them and promising a brighter future if they were contained, Germany could rise again. And so it did. It only cost millions of innocent lives in horrible camps where the only crime committed was what they believed.

Now I’m not trying to accuse Trump of being Hitler because honestly I don’t think he has the same flair for politics, but he’s arousing the same kind of fear in us to accomplish what he wants. It’s not like the United States always make the right choices. Let’s not forget we placed Japanese Americans in camps during World War II to protect ourselves and the Civil Rights movement only happened 50 years ago, with racism still plaguing us today.

At a recent rally, I saw a sign that read “Replace ‘Muslim’ with ‘Jew’ and ask yourself do I sound like a Nazi?” and man did it really hit me. It’s so easy to see the entire story of the Holocaust and make a judgement about the Germans for allowing it to happen, but at one point they were just like us, watching things unravel slowly with the promise of keeping them safe.

The point is fear of a people never ends well. We are all humans existing in this world together. We all have the capacity for good and evil. We all interpret religions differently. Does that mean one group is inherently evil?

What if, for example, people assumed all Christians were like those from Westboro Baptist? The kind who protest a veteran’s funerals hold signs about who God hates (the answer is no one by the way). We don’t want to be lumped into the same group as them, yet we assume we’re the only ones who are misunderstood.

Hate and fear have been, and always will be, our greatest enemies. Only when we conquer both of those do we thrive. Courage led us to defeat England claim our independence; fear led us to place Japanese Americans in camps. Love tells us we’re all equal; hate creates the separation between races.

It is not courageous to blame our problems on a group of people. It is cowardice to keep ‘bad people’ out when in reality we have more of them already in our country. And no, I don’t mean immigrants or refugees; I refer to the white, American-born citizens who pose a threat every single day.

We assume the solution is to fight the hate we think we receive from Muslims with more hate, through discrimination and threats of a ban and registry. When we joined World War II, we were taking on a clearly evil power that was allowed to exist for too long. Now, when so many fear our future as a country, the courage of some to stand up is mocked because we’re all just snowflakes whining about the way things are.

Right now, the courts are still trying to decide if Trump’s ban is legal. In an attempt to get his way, he bullied the federal judges by saying even a ‘bad high school student’ would rule in Trump’s favor. That is how our president intends to rule. And yes, I use rule intentionally, because more and more it appears Trump has no respect for the check and balances created to protect us and instead wants to bypass them all for his own means.

America is becoming a bully, the kind who feels the growing issues inside and instead of turning inward to address these problems, lashes out of everyone different around us.We are neglecting the courage of our founding fathers and listening to the hate speech and propaganda of our leader because he promises us change and safety.

Right now, we have a choice. We know history repeats itself, so we can choose to resist now or someday have to justify our actions to generations who will hopefully never understand how we let it get this far.

If at first you don’t succeed

I planned to write as soon as I got home. I was so jazzed up after the team leader meeting for my church’s kids ministry. I was inspired to actually act instead of wait.

And then I got on Instagram.

Writing seemed less and less appealing. I was excited to read my Bible and now I’m like can’t I just go to bed. I probably will, if I’m being honest. I’ll justify my choice by saying I won’t focus on the words anyway. Or maybe I can use the excuse I had some Jesus learning tonight and I’m all set. These are all just excuses to make me feel better when I know I’m making the wrong choice.

Tonight I set a personal goal with the team to write daily and to write a book in 2017. This means relatively nothing to most people. I’m not sure if I something so important to offer the world that my book will go anywhere, but I have to try.

I’m afraid of my dreams. Afraid of the failure I may face.

There’s so much work to do, so much fighting left. Every day I’m reminded why my voice is important. Not because of how well I string words together or my sphere of influence, but because my voice is important. Every voice is important.

I must remain dedicated and keep fighting and trying every day. Even when I’m tired. Even when I feel I have nothing to add. I cannot give up.

I can and I will.