We Need Help for our Gun Addiction, America

Dear America,

I am sorry we are so sick with our disease that we can’t give up our guns, addiction is a fucking, lying, bitch, and guns, as it turns out, are one hell of a drug. The good news is that there is help for this disease. As an addict in recovery, I can attest to the fact that once we leave the active addiction stage, and we have stayed away from our vices for a while, that things shift. It’s not pleasant to work through addiction, but it is necessary to have any chance at a decent life. I know it’s a hard sell, it was for me too.

Thankfully, two blokes in the 1930’s came up with a great way to sober up and in theory, stay sober. It doesn’t always work that way as I can tell you from experience, but it still changes lives and I still learn things and I do know that I don’t want to go back to active addiction even though it’s hard.

It’s not an easy process, I understand that, but it is a worthy process. Our health as a country depends on us getting out of active addiction. Guns are going to be a difficult vice to give up, but doing so is necessary for all of us, and we are in this together. In order to begin recovering from our addiction, it’s going to be necessary to commit to giving up guns. They haven’t given us safety, they haven’t given us happiness, but they have destroyed lives.

Addiction lies, and gun addiction lies as much as anything other. We have believed that good guys with guns could stop bad guys with guns. We have believed that more guns equal more freedom. We have believed that we need guns for self-defense. We have believed that guns can make our lives better. It turns out, of course, that none of this is true.

Drug dealers want addicts to keep using, bars want alcoholics to keep using, and gun lobbies and conservative politicians want gun addicts to keep using. There is money and power in it for them if they can keep us hooked on our devices. We are gun junkies and it’s time to sober up. So I’m going to write through the process that these guys came up with, but in my own words. They are the same steps but I’m not about to commit copyright violations. People in the writing world frown upon that.

Besides, for me it took seeing the steps put in different words to realize I needed to do this (thanks, Russell Brand, your overuse of the word “fuck” was just what I needed to help me figure this shit out). There are twelve steps in all, and so many people have found them so useful that they swear by them. As in they talk about how the steps changed their lives, not overusing obscenities, although that helps too.

  1. The first step in the recovery process is to admit that things are so fucked up that we can’t control or solve this shit. Our guns have run us for so long, we are completely overwhelmed and we’ve fought like hell to keep our drugs. There is absolutely no way we can manage to fix this on an individual basis, and it’s also going to be difficult socially. But, as Bill W. said in different words, the first step is to own up to our own bullshit.
  2. The second step of the process is to believe that there is hope. Sanity is possible, but not with our current state of affairs. We merely need to believe that change is possible, and that something greater than us and our fucked up priorities can make us healthy again.
  3. Next, and this part is as important as the rest: a lot of us believe in God, although we might know and experience God differently than others, or may be serving a false god, or might have created a god in our own image, but what we need to do is stop with the useless thoughts and prayers, and instead ask God to make us well and bring us to the point where we don’t believe we need guns.
  4. We are going to need to examine ourselves and how we ourselves contributed to this scourge on society, how we have blood on our hands because we had to grasp so tightly to our guns that we couldn’t give them up. Some deep soul-searching is going to be necessary to make sure that we don’t do the same things again and end up worse than we started out.
  5. Once we’ve done our self-examination, it’s time to admit the harm that we have done. Really and truly take responsibility for it.
  6. The next step is that we need to be ready to do the hard work it’s going to require to change our thoughts and attitudes, to educate ourselves and others in different ways. The beauty of this step is that it doesn’t require us to actually change anything yet, all it requires is an open mind and willingness to do and see things differently.
  7. Moving on from willingness, it then becomes necessary to follow through on the willingness, to ask God to remove all the shitty beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, prejudices, and lies so that we can continue our journey towards recovery.
  8. The next step, I’m sorry to say, really fucking sucks, and I’ve been attempting to work this one for quite a while now. It’s not pleasant and it’s much slower going for me so far than most of the others, but it’s as vitally important as the rest. We need to actually figure out who we have personally harmed in our inordinate attachment to guns, and become willing to find ways to make up for it.
  9. Moving on from willingness, then, is action. We actually go and do the things we have committed to doing to make up for what we have done, for our part in how we got here. Perhaps we need to educate ourselves on the realities of racism (for me, I purposely chose to do the “Black Literary Traditions” class in graduate school, in which I learned a whole hell of a lot, and I have purchased books by black authors about how to be anti-racist, and I’ve committed to changing my thoughts and the language I use). Perhaps we need to find a way to donate to causes that help keep our children safe, or contribute to educating about guns in a different way by writing articles, or being a vendor at an event for free. There are many ways to take action that can be positive, the important thing to remember is to make sure that nobody is hurt in this process. The days of hurting others because of our addiction needs to be gone. This is about us and helping to change things for the better. It’s not inspiration porn, it’s not to make ourselves look like the shit, it’s to contribute in meaningful ways to changing the narrative.
  10. The commitment to recovering from our gun addiction means continuing to evaluate our beliefs and attitudes towards society and individuals, to examine our own motives, and to admit it when we are wrong. That’s not easy for us to do, admit to being wrong, but it’s necessary.
  11. After managing to get through all of this, we then take on new disciplines to keep ourselves grounded spiritually so that our relationship with God is always getting better. God is amazing and there are so many ways to get closer to him. One of my favorite spiritual tools is the rosary, it brings me closer to Jesus every time that I pray it. I have a set of prayers I say in the mornings to ground myself for the day and commit to serving Jesus. I attempt to live a religious life in the secular world and devote myself to prayer. This step will look different for all of us, as our ways of relating to God are different. While that is true, it’s important to remember that faith is both individual and communal, and so we also need to participate in our common life with God together, as well as striving to continue to live faithfully on our own.
  12. Then, at last, we get to the final step, except that I’m going to let you in on a secret. We have to work these steps over and over again. We continue to live them out over our lifetime because addiction is a disease for which there is no cure, but there is help. We will always have times where we want to just give up and go and amass weapons again. However, one day we get strong enough to where we can tell others about how amazing sobriety is, and encourage them to think about sobering up.

Addiction is a bitch. It’s that thief in the night that comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, which is exactly what our gun addiction is doing. The good news is that there is hope. Are you in this with me?

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MaryClare StFrancis

MaryClare StFrancis

My friends assure me that I am never boring, so hopefully you won’t be bored either.