Lambs to the slaughter

So I’m browsing my Facebook feed the other morning, as I do, and find the news about this woman. Melody Lauer. At a glance, without the accessory (and I’m not talking about the baby) she is the poster girl for Gap. Or maybe J Crew.

What a mom! What a parenting expert! Great cheekbones. And so eloquent. She reached out to armed mothers in her area when she saw there was a gap in the concealed carry hopefuls and baby wranglers’ lives.

“And what’s happening is, we don’t have instructors that are addressing their needs. So they just do it, they don’t do it right, and then they end up having an accident,” Melody says.

An accident. “Whoops! (says a hapless armed mother) What did I just do?”

So those in the know, and I’m talking about the women reading this, Melody is a pretty package, right? Slim, fashionable, and some of us might envy that flat stomach she shows off as she slides her handgun into her bohemian-look belted waistband.

Personally, I like her jeans. I don’t have the body to pull them off, but I have jeans envy.

I picture that unlike a woman confronted by real terrorists, like a mother in Nigeria threatened by Boko Haram, Melody is feeling like she had better be packing heat for her trip to Target so she can browse the food processors, pick up some underwear, a pair of Snoopy pajamas, a teething ring she can pop in the freezer for the baby, and a venti decaf half skim pumpkin pie latte from Starbucks. With whip. Why not?

I mean, who wouldn’t need a gun? What if that bitch in front of you took the last pair of small pajamas? You show ’em Melody!

And on far too many levels, this is so wrong. So incredibly wrong, it’s difficult to even start.

I’d like to get Melody in a little room, and ask her, is this the world you want your beautiful baby to grow up into? Where people increasingly arm up against each other?

I was talking to my husband about this tonight, and we both asked the question, ‘Where will this end?’ he is convinced it’s a matter of time before it’s acceptable to carry onto planes. And he could be right. A passenger gets annoyed because the guy behind him anchors a knee defender to his seat, so he pulls out his .22 and puts a hole in guy behind him and the side of a plane. Or worse.

It sounds harsh, but it’s difficult to know where the line is. Human lives obviously aren’t the breaking point. In the United States, we’ve killed enough. We maim enough. Just check the stats on www.gunviolencearchive.org.

The other big question I have is the broader issue of that child’s future and denying her the personal resilience that comes without turning to a weapon to solve problems. Melody seems to be an astute, well-spoken woman, if not a little dim-witted. There is just something about her Iowan complexion that makes me doubt she could name the current Prime Minister of the UK or the capitol of Connecticut. I just get a feeling.

But that’s beside the point.

Have we learned nothing from history? Are we learning nothing from the so-called Death Cult of Islamic State, or Da’ish, or whatever they are called today?

Reacting to anything that conflicts with your set of ideals, including that nobody is going to get in your way as you walk with your infant strapped to your belly and a swinging bag from Bed, Bath and Beyond to your VW Touareg, that’s not a lot different than the extremists running amok in Iraq and Syria.

After all, how crap would it be if you doorknocked all through the neighborhood to get a community group together one night a week to target issues and find ways and funds to work toward a positive change? It might conflict with Big Bang Theory. Really crapola.

It also means that we as humans can absolve ourselves of any responsibility of being humans. We do have these unique things beside our opposable thumbs called reason, and empathy.

But hell, let’s all dumb ourselves down until the only things wdon't shoote know how to do is procreate, toil and kill. I mean, why bother with saving lives? Do we need to worry about the young man who turns to the gun for any number or reasons? If not, why save the woman with cervical cancer?

It’s a judgement call. On paper, maybe her life looks more worthy than the kid on the corner. I don’t think so, but it seems many would. We consider her potential, and we wipe his. That kind of philosophy engenders Melody’s thought processes. In her world, there is always a reason to own a gun.

I am not only considering the second amendment advocates. I’m also thinking about those inner city victims who ratchet up the stats silently, out of the press scrum because they are a demographic already tagged as violent. But they are lives, they are minds all needing salvaging. Why are those humans worth less than any other? Why is the proliferation of firearms in the United States any less serious than cancer?

But it’s not about situation. It’s about ethics. Guns release us from ethical responsibility, We use fear as a justification. These are powerful emotions, but none of it makes our world any safer. We can’t look to the future and say, ‘Boo-yah! We are really getting on top of this social crisis, that wave of domestic violence, those disenfranchised youth. I feel good today!’

No, no. We only become a planet of head-cases. God forbid we actually roll up our sleeves to do that hard yards to enact change. Why bother? Just get yourself a gun. Instant safety. Until you’re a little too slow, a little too late, and the other one gets to the gun first.

I’d like to put Melody in that little room and ask her, is it just too hard to have a discussion about the fact that we can problem solve? That we are better than the knee-jerk response to fear that you are already impressing upon your baby girl? That we are born to be strong and to care, or to blindly react?

Are we going to leave the next generation a world to fight against?
Are we going to leave the next generation a world to fight against?

Personally, this video makes me weary. That it has come to this. No matter babies are killing their mothers. No matter they are killing themselves.

I’d like to know what does matter. That has not yet been explained. Because all those who want to defend their rights to own a firearm, what is that expiration date on your dogmas? You will die with your guns, but what kind of world are you leaving behind for the children to inherit?

7 Comments

Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Suzanne Jedlickareply
March 6, 2015 at 10:25 am

I’ve never been more proud to call you my daughter.

XO

Mom

adminreply
March 6, 2015 at 8:28 pm
– In reply to: Suzanne Jedlicka

You set a good example Mom.

Melodyreply
March 31, 2015 at 4:44 pm

I would be happy to go in that little room with you. I’d love to hear those questions and, as best I may, answer them. Perhaps not to your liking but to my understanding, insomuch as you would allow yourself to try to understand me.
You painted a very narrow picture of me–a narrative in which I can look no further than my own back door and that the view is scary (at least outside of target). Of course, it’s simpler to assume I cling to dogma though it’s unclear as to what dogma you propose I am unwilling to relinquish.
You asked a very direct question: Is this the world I want my beautiful baby to grow up into? Where people increasingly arm up against each other?
My response is only a sadness that that is all you see… or cared to see. You looked at me and saw a frightened, self-centered, woman who cares more about my coffee than a life. You didn’t reach out to me (despite writing that that is exactly what you’d like to do), you didn’t take the time to bridge a gap and seek a peaceful solution with me. You wrote me off, just as easily as you assume I write off others.
The world I want is as much filled with peace as the world you want. In my world every life matters and in my world I will fight for every life.
I can imagine this woman that you imagine. I cannot, however, see her in my mirror. Truly, she would be a bitch. A shallow hull that somehow deems her own existence and whim so superior that she would consider killing to impose it upon others. Not only is that illegal, it’s unethical, amoral, and just.. wrong. So, in that sense, I agree with you. But you aren’t seeing me. You’re seeing what you think of me.
What I see in my mirror is a woman who feels deeply and genuinely about life–all life. I see a happy woman at relative peace with her place in the world and who wants the same solutions you do. A woman with a curious mind and a genuine love for life and people. And, to answer your question, there is absolutely a time when I would put down my guns.
From the view you have penned of me it seems as though it may surprise you to know that I volunteer in my community as an Emergency Medical Technician. I don’t do as much as I would like and I wish, every day, that I could do more. The time I spent teaching this class was volunteered. No, I don’t go door-to-door looking for funding and solutions to world peace but being involved in community outreaches for safety from all manner of disasters or emergencies is absolutely something you could find me doing.
The idea that I (or anyone) would consider my worth to be more than that of a child on the corner is so deeply tragic that it is offensive. Not to say I am offended by you, only by the view you didn’t bother to confirm or deny before you opposed it upon me.
If you could put me in a little room and ask me questions about the world I would want, I would only ask you allow me to ask you about the world we have.
Perhaps my first question would be why you would assume that someone who is armed can’t also be compassionate and concerned, empathic and hopeful?
I was surprised to hear you say that guns release us from ethical responsibility. In my mind they increase that responsibility. The power of life and death. Is there a greater responsibility? I cannot think of one.
You said “we” use fear as justification. I’m assuming you’re talking about some sort suspected “fear” that drives me and those like me to carry a gun.
That’s a rather lazy accusation to make. It would be easy to think a citizen who carries a gun is afraid and therefore its commonly assumed to be true. If I were to tell you I wasn’t afraid you may not believe me. That philosophy would endanger your thought process (to borrow a phrase).
The problem is fear is a laughably thin veil behind which to hide and I’m not hiding. I’m here, ready to answer questions when people are ready to accept my answers and allow me the courtesy of believing that what I’m saying is born out of a deep and reasoned understanding of myself and my life in a world, not that I want, but in which I already live.. with hope for–and work for–the world in which I hope my daughter can live.
Your last question was a very good one. What kind of a world am I leaving for my children?
Oh, God, I hope it’s a better one.
I hope when they see me running out the door at 3am because the pager went off and I come home crying because a patient died in my hands, I hope they are learning compassion and the value of life. I hope when I take them across the street to help clear our neighbor’s yard after a storm they are learning kindness and a sense of community. I hope they remember a mom who wanted to do something, no matter how small, to help her fellow man. I hope they see that when their mom saw a need, she did what she could to fill a void, despite the criticism.
Perhaps I can do more. I will look for ways to do more. To leave the world a better place.
Thank you for reminding me of that.

adminreply
March 31, 2015 at 10:26 pm
– In reply to: Melody

Melody, I am very moved and respect that you took the time to write such a measured and considered response. I also want to thank you for engaging in this conversation. I admit, I was pretty tough on you. But I still do not agree with what you are doing. If anything, your response, which seems very contradictory in its message, galvanizes my opinion. I have to believe you’re better than what you are doing, and if that offends, I apologize.
I grew up, and my parents still live only blocks away from one of the most violent areas of Chicago. I am 45. For most of my young and now adult life and each time I visit home, drive through the west side, take the el train, hear the sirens, read the local headlines, as I will in a few weeks’ time, I witness the growing devastation wrought by a population neglected and dying increasingly by gun violence. That same event plays out across America daily. I don’t have to put any spin on it. The facts are there.
Unless you’re shooting clay pigeons or a paper target, guns kill. That is what they are designed to do. And it is far too easy to rely upon such a deadly weapon when you are triggered by fear or anger. I have lost two friends to suicide by a firearm. One had a little girl only three years old. They both chose the gun because it would do the job.
I have lived abroad in the UK over several years and now for 12 years in Australia, both countries that have their share of violence, but not gun violence because of the tight gun control laws, and those laws make an extraordinary difference. I have an ex-husband who was a committed gun owner, hunter and enjoyed shooting. I lived in a house that had guns. I did then, and still believe the choice to arm in defense is a decision to kill if necessary.
If a man grabbed at you in parking lot with your baby daughter strapped to your chest and the gun in the waistband of your jeans, can you admit you would not reach for the weapon? And should the moment turn even more against you, what if he was able to take the gun from you? What then? Are the mothers you are teaching aware of what would and could happen in this situation? Are they equipped to handle that moment emotionally and physically? At best, the person runs off and it’s another gun floating around in the world.
At worst, somebody is injured or dies. If that stolen gun, registered in your name, was used to kill somebody, or maimed or killed a child, which is all too frequent these days, how would you or any of your student mothers feel? If it were me, I would be shattered.
Yes, you do have an ethical responsibility in this situation. Absolutely. You have the ethical responsibility to promote a world that would not put that stolen gun into circulation. You have an ethical responsibility to move your community away from the ethos of “them or me” to “all of us”.
We all do. Me included.
I honestly believe that, despite your protestations, if you were not fearful, you would not carry a gun. It is as simple as that. There is nothing lazy about this assertion in my mind. Even when I felt most threatened in my life, and I have been in many tight and scary scrapes over the years, I have never felt the need to carry a handgun.
I laud the fact you admit it is not a world you want, but that you do live in. Well, bloody well change it Melody. Change it. Don’t heap more blankets over the issue. Change it. You can do more, as you said. Again, we all can.
It is good you felt driven to try to make a change, for thinking up some way to keep people safe, but I do not endorse the way you are doing it. If anything, I feel great sadness about it. And frustration. That is why I wrote that article. I was very angry and upset about what you were doing. If you used your energy in another way, to turn the cycle of violence around, your vision and energy might actually make a change.
Your words about helping your fellow man are very noble, but I am asking you, if your need to reach out is so strong, and this was the point of my article, why then are you perpetuating the gun as a tool for daily life rather than educating mothers to change their communities? So that fear, which might inspire a person to purchase a weapon is the thing that evaporates? It is highly complex and difficult, much, much harder than buying a weapon.
But everything that is worthwhile is hard.
In the end, the outcome would mean a much safer world than the one where far, far too many people become equipped to take a life, and that to me is what you are doing.
You might be surprised my impression of you. You struck me an intelligent young woman, one that thinks and reasons. I never pegged you for a hollow bitch at all – maybe that is why I was even more disappointed. And a little frightened that somebody who seemed so reasonable chose to act as you have by offering this class for mothers and babies.
I think perhaps, you live in an insular world. You are reacting to the drama around you rather than instigating change. Not for world peace, but for a safer town to live in. Safer streets. In more creative ways than arming each other against each other. You are teaching defense rather than launching offensive action against gun violence.
You don’t live in Syria. You live in Iowa. You actually live in a country where you have the power to enact change.
If we sat down in that little room, I don’t know how far we would get. We are using similar words, but clearly not speaking the same language. Your ideas of compassion and mine, despite your grief over what you see in the emergency room are just not the same. And helping your neighbor-we should all do that. It should be common practice. Either after a storm or a sunny day. Kids should just absorb that we look after each other.
They also absorb the world around them and learn by example, as you know. Do you want yours to believe that guns are a necessary part of life?
I know that tools of life skills, of education, understanding, and knowledge are much more powerful than a tool of death. And I will always think that way.
Thank you for writing. In regards to your little ones, may I also say, I know the children here in Australia can honestly grow up with little to no fear or even the concept of being accidentally or intentionally shot. It’s a place where kids don’t have panic drills for when an armed person storms their school or even know how to drop when they hear shots fired. And it’s very real. And it’s very lovely.
I am sorry if what I have written upsets you. But my god, the guns Melody. They have to stop. It all has to stop, Because dead babies and children, they don’t seem to make the difference. You’re a mom and you’re smart. You can.

Melodyreply
April 1, 2015 at 4:05 am

You’re right. I don’t think we would get very far..lol. I think I’d enjoy talking to you. I’m not upset by what you said because much of it is opinion made in error. I also am not a fan of throwing preverbal babies out with the bathwater. You make great points about trying to make a better world. I think those are worthy goals and topics worth discussing. I do enjoy the opportunity to civilly discuss the issue. We’ve mostly done that. I greatly enjoy meeting new people and listening to them. I think if we could agree to disagree we could enjoy a very reasoned discussion. But I don’t think I could satisfy a lot of your questions because you’ve already admitted that you’re not willing to believe my answers.
That’s okay. I’m genuinely not out here to convince anyone about anything or say my way of life is better than any other. It is only what it is. Just like the rest of the world. It is what it is and while trying to change it for the better is a goal we should all have and work toward, it’s irresponsible to ignore the reality in which we live for a vision of what might be–like ignoring a broken leg because you envision a world without cancer.
Violence is a cancer. It truly is and there isn’t a corner of the world that isn’t infected with it. I, too, want to see it cured. When it is, I won’t be needed anymore and I will change my vocation. But, in the mean time I choose to still mend the broken leg which is unsafe handling and storage of firearms that people can legally obtain and carry in the US.
That is the sole purpose of my class. If it helps, think of me as a driver’s ed instructor. He doesn’t tell people what car to get or decide if they can afford a car, etc. He’s completely uninterested in the debates about cars. He just wants to make sure that when you get behind the wheel you won’t drive through someone’s living room wall.
So, my goal with this class was not to tell parents they should or should not have guns. It was not to convince them a gun is necessary or unnecessary or good or bad. It is simply to make sure that if a gun is something they have chosen for themselves (which is their legal right in all 50 states of this union) they won’t harm themselves or their children while they own it.
I DO discuss the pros and cons of carrying guns with children. What kind of instructor would I be if I didn’t tell people the bad side of things? Because there ARE some real cons to carrying guns around kids. If the cons convince a parent that it’s too much responsibility or risk for them and they would no longer want to carry a gun, I am 100% okay with that. In fact, I prefer that to them carrying a gun they aren’t prepared or fully informed in the responsibility thereof.
But guns aren’t going anywhere any time soon. At a ratio of 9 guns for every 10 people in the US, saying you’d rather someone stop teaching firearms safety because you envision a world without guns is very much like saying you would like driver’s education to stop because you would like a world without cars.
As long as there are guns, whether you like them or not, there MUST be instructors willing to teach people how to be safe with them. Anything less than that is irresponsible.
You assumed that I believes guns are necessity of life. I have never said that. Nor will I. Guns are not necessary to life and anyone who thinks so may have some deeper issues to contend with. As you pointed out, many nations and people therein enjoy fulfilling lives without ever even seeing a gun. But I have chosen firearms in my life for a variety of reasons. I won’t debate those reasons because that’s irrelevant right now. They are tools I have added and I put no emotional investment into them as things. I have an investment in the time and effort I have put into training with them and in the money it has taken to purchase and maintain them but I feel nothing towards them as objects (as it should be). However, In choosing firearms as tools in my life I have taken on the responsibility of them.
I have received over 200 hours of professional-level instruction in firearms. Those are just the hours I’ve been in class under direct supervision from a certified instructor and does not include the hours teaching, practicing, competing, writing, reading or studying tactics, violence, fear, criminology, human behavior and self defense law. It also doesn’t include the hours of non-gun related training in life saving procedures, emergency medicine, and much more.
I will not teach my children that guns are a necessary part to life. Quite the contrary, actually. Life can be lived fully and happily whether you choose to have a gun or not and the gun should be quite inconsequential to that fact. What I will teach them in regards to guns, and what they see modeled every day of their lives, is that if you choose to have a gun in your home you have a grave responsibility to be well-trained, educated and careful with it. It is not a toy and there are very real and permanent consequences to using it. Use of a firearm MUST be safe and justified, anything less is negligent, unethical, and even criminal.
I am a firearms instructor. That’s what I do. Even in places such as Australia or the UK where guns are limited to law enforcement, etc, there are still firearms instructors who teach those people. I’m sure when they go home to talk about their day the conversations they have with their children about guns likely mirror my own. I’m also sure they are not told they should stop doing what they do because people don’t like guns and want a world without violence. People can usually understand that if a person is to use gun they should be trained in safe and effectual use.
Well, I take that back. There will always be people who think that violence is curable when good people stop preparing themselves to defend against it. The problem is that has never worked. You have said so yourself when referencing the violence problems in places like the UK and Australia. The violence has not gone away, only the guns.
I’m encouraged to see that despite the guns violent crime is decreasing in the US as well as firearms accidents.
However, if civilians are allowed and continue to carry guns there has to be someone who trains them. Here I am. And I’m trying to make the difference I can make in a reality that will not go away any time soon.
I’m done. I’ve appreciated this opportunity to discuss this with you.
If you have any genuine questions and a willingness to accept my answers then you’ll know where to find me.
I hope we can both move forward toward making the world a better, safer place.

adminreply
April 1, 2015 at 7:15 am
– In reply to: Melody

Thanks for writing back Melody. I’ll have a think about what you said and respond. I appreciate your candor and your honesty and that this conversation happened.

Ross Jacobsreply
April 1, 2015 at 8:12 am

Thank you Michèle and Melody for the articulate and respectful conversation. I believe it is an important discussion and there are so many issues to resolve.

The issue that has not yet been explained is what reason should a mother or any average Joe (or Josephine) have for carrying a gun. Melody said, “But I have chosen firearms in my life for a variety of reasons. I won’t debate those reasons because that’s irrelevant right now.” But I would argue it is very relevant.

Guns have the potential to be such a massive threat to health and life that the reason for anybody to carry one should be out of necessity and not preference. Some may argue that cars also have potential for harm, but cars serve an important purpose along with their risks. Guns serve no purpose other than to threaten or kill. So if you are going to carry a gun you should have only the best of excuses such as your job in law enforcement or the military or a farmer for livestock control. The risks of gun carrying are far too great for people to be allowed to carry guns around the streets, shops and restaurants as an accessory. The American 2nd amendment does not give justification to this sort of behaviour. And if it did, then change it because it no longer belongs in a modern , educated, first world country like the USA.

I would like to know why Melody carries a gun. If it is not fear (as she claims), then it must be fashion or ego/bravado or for the sport of putting a cap in a squirrel as she walks her children through the park on the way to day care. I truly believe if Melody’s reasons for gun carrying are not imperative, then she is as much part of the cause of the problem of American gun violence as anybody else. She makes her neighbourhood and her country more dangerous, not less.

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