My heart was broken this weekend, and I had no words, only tears.
Matt Weiss, an amazing teacher whose American History class at CMU was one of the highlights of my undergrad experience, describes my beloved Squirrel Hill so well here. For many years, Forbes and Murray was the center of my universe and the crossroads of my life — as a nanny, I took kids to the Carnegie library at that corner and ferried kids to/from the JCC across the street; I met my husband at The Squirrel Cage — a dive-ish bar at the intersection; I lamented when Barnes and Noble arrived; I served rowdy patrons at a Silky’s sports bar during the Stanley Cup finals in the early 90s.
I lived within walking distance of Tree of Life for over a decade, and the neighborhood is still home to many people I love. I have been lucky to celebrate several family milestones at Tree of Life with my “Pittsburgh family” and this past Saturday morning, I was beside myself until I heard that they and so many other people I know and love were not in harm’s way. But my heart is broken for such a beautiful, inclusive, welcoming community.
So many publications have waxed eloquent on Squirrel Hill, describing a leafy, inclusive, vibrant, diverse community. As trite as it may sound, these words are so accurate. It is a neighborhood of college students, CEOs, young families, community leaders, elderly Holocaust survivors, Steelers coaches, and of course, Mr. Rogers. As the world now knows, the backbone of the community in Squirrel Hill are its Jewish residents. I was raised Catholic in another steel town, a 5 hour drive from Pittsburgh, and yet in the twelve years I lived in Pittsburgh, I learned to tell the seasons of the year by when Hamentaschen appeared on the bakery shelves (Rosenblooms!) and people began construction in their yards for Sukkot.
This past weekend, my heart was broken. I did crossword puzzle after crossword puzzle, wiht tears streaming down my face, hoping against hope that figuring out how to arrange letters in their black and white squares would help my mind find some sense of order in the universe.
I was hearbroken, but now I am ANGRY. How can we not have sensible gun laws in this country? How can we sit by while innocent, elderly people are murdered in their place of worship? I mean, in the past few years we have watched young people get murdered in their schools and my children now know the difference between a lockdown and a lockout at their respective schools, but we have done NOTHING to demand responsibility from people who exercise their 2nd amendment rights.
We have the RESPONSIBILITY to vote. Today I filled in my mail in ballot, and I am grateful for CO making it easy to vote early. I just wish there were ballot measures that would read something like:
*Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado Constitution concerning creating responsibilities around the right to bear arms, wherein existing rights are maintained and additional responsibilities are imposed on owners of firearms, specifically responsibilities that impose insurance requirements not unlike car ownership, including annual registration, liability insurance, and civil and criminal penalties for misuse or death resulting from the discharge of aforementioned registered firearms?
Because I would be #FORTHEMEASURE
If you are a staunch defender of your Constitutional rights, please don’t come at me with talk of rights unless you are willing to discuss the attendant responsibilities. Your right to shoot your gun ends where my child/loved one/school/synagogue/church/university/grocery store begins. Take your guns and hunt, go to the shooting range, whatever. No one wants your legally registered, responsibly used guns. But prepare to pay insurance and bring them in to police stations every year for registration, just as I have to do with my killing machine, aka SUV.
Instead of thinking of coming for your guns, we are coming for your hate. And DEMANDING responsibility.
How can we get a measure on the ballot that requires (not unlike cars) that all firearms be registered and insured? Colorado, come on — the first state to give women the right to vote (in 1893) can lead the nation in requiring responsibilty for gun ownership. Who is with me?