Average Day

Another Average Day in the Life of a United States American Citizen:

I’m at the cash register, chatting with a customer who’s going to California, my home state. He met Ford Coppola and was invited to his winery.

“I’ve never been further west than Chicago,” he says.

A colleague appears at my right. “Jess, what school does your mom work at?”

A pang. A tiny jolt of adrenaline, automatic, minuscule. But I am collected. “Why?”

The customer is standing there, waiting.

The colleague: “Just what school?”

Me: “Owensmouth. Why?”

The colleague, staring intensely down at her phone, glances up – notes the customer transaction I am still proceeding with: “I’ll tell you when you’re done.” Vanishes back.

Me, to the customer: “There must have been another shooting.” Casual. It’s casual.

Customer: “Oh yeah. California.”

After he is gone, I learn this time it is the town I lived in for most of my life — where my brother and mom still live — the shooting happened. Not my high school but a school I visited that one time, a school friends and acquaintances of mine went to.

The next day, I learn how many died. How many are in the hospital.

And I read articles about and watch a video of a lawmaker who says — the very morning, the same hour, the kid decided to kill his schoolmates —

“Many questions about this legislation need to be answered before it’s forced upon law-abiding gun owners. If I wanted to give my best friend’s son or grandson my hunting rifle, would we first have to appear before a licensed gun dealer and go through a lengthy and potentially expensive background check?”

She kills it. The bill doesn’t even get to be voted on. It dies.

Why, I wonder, are law-abiding gun owners more important than citizens who don’t own guns? Why are they more carefully protected than children?

The kid’s father was a hunter who owned many guns. Okay. His father is dead – sad. There’s no legal way in California for the kid to buy a gun himself. Who gave it to him? Did he just keep his dad’s guns? Did one of his dad’s hunting buddies give it to him, thinking, hey, this is a good kid, a quiet kid, a boy scout?

Outside, the trees are almost bare. It’s too damn cold. And it’s just another day.

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