Cherylanne L. Farley

Cherylanne L. Farley

Grandpa told the truth when he said, “You don’t own the house, the house owns you.”

Saturday night at early dusk, I was weeding flowerbeds in the front yard, convincing the roses that yes, it was hot, but they could still bloom. The neighborhood parade was out in full force too. From the valiant elder determined to live one more better day using a walker to get their exercise done followed by attentive caregivers chatting and watching the skies for owls sailing through the air vigilant in the search for dinner. The young couple committed to each other holding hands while they walked and talked and made future plans. Tired moms with a happy baby in their umbrella stroller enjoying the cooler evening air each hoping to tire the other out enough for sleep. And of course, the tiny white dog prancing in her harness, tail curled, a happy dog smile from ear to ear as she led her family of kids and adults out for their evening promenade.

Little did we all know bloody death was stalking us just 200 feet away when weak men empowered by misplaced notions of entitlement unloaded guns and wildly fired more than 60 rounds. Those gunshots could have killed every single one of us, including that happy prancing dog. For, once again, absolutely no good reason.

When the gunfight first started, I was already in the house sprawled on the couch with my popcorn watching the new version of “A Star is Born,” thoroughly enjoying myself relaxing. As a gun owner, I heard the shots fired and starting counting them, and at 15, I mused by the sound they were probably shooting a .380. Then I sat straight up. Why was my neighborhood in the middle of a gunfight? The dogs burst in through the back door and we all huddled together in a pile, waiting for the screams and sounds of sirens. Instead we heard nothing but long minutes of law enforcement helicopters and police officers carefully searching the neighborhood on foot. Thankfully this time we had made it out alive.

At this point we all know the facts. Hundreds of millions of weapons in too few hands of responsible reasonable adults. We have watched images of stacks of gun piles of ammunition far beyond any intentions of the “well-regulated militia” written in the Second Amendment so many gun — not enthusiasts but extremists — choose to worship. We helplessly accept the lie and understand how incorrect the notion is that “the best defense against a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” When an open-carry gun crazy state like Texas in a Wal-Mart, filled with ammo and people who know how to use them, is defenseless during a shooting, that entire philosophy simply doesn’t work. But I still took my gun out of the gun safe and chose a defensible triangulated position in the dark between doors and windows. Welcome to Saturday night in America.

As citizens, we train and arm ourselves because our politicians have left us in a war. Wrapped up in their unquenchable thirst for power and campaign contributions, they do nothing but attempt to distract and divide our nation. Our own Rep. Kevin McCarthy — House minority leader in the strongest, most powerful nation on the planet — hides in his local office. Windows darkened to almost total blackness, the front office door locked, completely unavailable to his constituents. He hasn’t held a local town hall in years because he knows his continued decisions to place party over principle are not widely supported. The politicians are willing to allow the deaths of our elders, happy couples, teenagers, children, babies, even our precious prancing pet dogs, in order to avoid the wraith of the few extremists. These politicians allow the weak and powerless among us to carry out unlimited death. Now none of us are safe anywhere ever.

However, We The People are not discouraged. We rise up to challenges and show the spine and grit that our politicians have abandoned. We can't make any laws, but we can use our collective energy and imagination to at least slow down our individual loss of freedom and security. First step, make an individual choice to step up and know each other. Do you know someone with too many guns? Quietly watch and pay attention to that person, put them on your personal radar. If they start acting or speaking in a way you very well know is dangerous, make the call to law enforcement. Trust your instincts

Next, push for gun buybacks. Instead of raising funds for a new football stadium or, even worse, one more car wash to pay for another gun death funeral, step up and put forth the effort to gather funds and with law enforcement involvement and supervision. Get all those guns out of our homes and off the streets. One of the latest mass murderers had more than 25 guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Imagine all the prom dresses and Christmas presents a gun buyback program could have provided with even half of those guns turned into cash.

America does not quit. When we are faced with evil, we face back with what is right and good. Our young men have become hopelessly obsessed with gun violence. Many times the older male leadership that could inspire these lost young men is unwilling and unable to step up and fulfill their important roles of instruction and counsel. We've earned and deserve a chance to enjoy our lives and live in peace. The politicians refuse to do their jobs. As voters, we will remember their cowardice and send them packing. As citizens, we will decide to push back against the mindless relentless terror of gun violence. We got this.

Cherylanne Farley is active in many groups including Junior League of Bakersfield and DWK. She also works nationally as an educational consult focusing on online learning.