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More Guns Will Not Make Us Safer

Cristen Hemmins got completely immersed in the battle to defeat Initiative 26 in MS (The Personhood Initiative) in 2011, and was interviewed live on The Rachel Maddow Show, MPB, BBC radio, and other media outlets in print and television. Feeling completely fed up with not being represented in Mississippi state government, she’s now Vice-Chair of her county Democratic party, is on the State Democratic Executive Committee, and was a delegate to the 2012 DNC.
This native Mississippian is self-employed and sells ads for a few different print publications in her spare seconds of not being a political activist. Her kids are 6, 8, and 10, and she is happily married to an Englishman. They all live in an old farmhouse on the edge of Oxford and enjoy their flowers, chickens, veggies, cats, a bunny, a dog, and a guinea pig. Email here at cristenh@watervalley.net and follow on Twitter: @CristenHemmins
This is one time that I think I can speak for all of America: we were all horrified by what happened in Sandy Hook last week.  I think the deaths of those 20 precious children changed many of us. I have a six-year-old myself, so I feel I have some idea of what the loss meant for those families.  Sandy Hook was a game-changing moment for our gun-loving country.
President Obama is thankfully moving forward “without delay” to make changes in our country’s mental health and gun laws.  I hope, for the sake of those killed and for all Americans, that we can make some major changes in both our gun laws and in the ease of our access to mental healthcare.
A new report out today says that gun deaths will exceed traffic fatalities by 2015. This is stunning. Motor vehicle fatalities have continued to decrease in recent years, because of safer vehicles, restricted privileges for young drivers, and seat belt laws. Government regulations have made us safer. At the same time, Americans have bought more and more guns. Are we ready to start putting some limits and controls on guns, in order to make us safer and to save lives? I am all for it.
I am a Southerner. I was raised around guns and hunting. I remember shooting my Dad’s hunting rifle at cans, and being taught how to use his hand gun. But I hate guns. Many know my story already, but in case you don’t: I was abducted, raped, and shot twice by two teens on a carjacking spree who decided to keep me, 21 years ago in Jackson, Mississippi. As I escaped from them, they shot me twice, in the knee and the back, as I ran away. I ran to a gas station, and they drove my car around in front of the building and even fired three times into the place, while I hid behind the counter.
The Christmas after that happened in October, my dad gave me my own .38. I kept it for a year or two, but it made me nervous. I always knew it was there, and it scared me, even though I had shot it several times. I finally gave it back to him. I felt safer without it.
If anyone is going to be paranoid, shouldn’t it be me? What are so many big, strong, Southern men afraid of? Why do they need their guns so badly? I just don’t get it. As many have pointed out, Adam Lanza’s mother was a gun-lover, and it didn’t help her at all.
And hearing so many people spout out that now we need *teachers* to be armed—it’s simply ridiculous. My mother is a kindergarten teacher, and she finds the thought abhorrent. More guns equal more gun deaths, according to a Harvard School of Public Health report.  This is a fact many gun lovers simply refuse to accept, which astounds me.
This year, the gun industry is expected to rack up a steady $11.7 billion in sales and $993 million in profits. An estimated 120,000 to 130,000 guns were sold on the Saturday after the shooting. Please, let’s stop the madness. I am counting on enough Americans to speak up and be ready to make some changes. We need more regulation of guns and the gun industry in America. It’s time to stop letting the NRA and gun manufacturers stoke and then cash in on our fears.
I got a Christmas card from a Mississippi relative this month, which said inside, “May the peace and joy of Christ be with you this Christmas and throughout the New Year.” I happened to notice when I opened the card, that on the back, it had the NRA logo. She had bought her Christmas cards from the NRA. The irony of this was not lost on me, though it apparently was on her.
The children of Sandy Hook deserve a fitting memorial, and I think the best one would be for less Americans to die at the muzzle of a gun. The way to do that is through regulations, an assault weapons and large clip ban, and restrictions on gun ownership.

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