Last week, I was lamenting my toddler’s propensity for dining on animal feed when I made the following joke, 

“The easiest way to keep marauding pests out of feed bins is to shoot them, but you can’t really do that with toddlers (at least you can’t in the South–gun culture is so strong here, the toddlers would likely shoot back). 

After the events of this week, I can no longer stand behind that joke. Our southern gun culture is strong, but not that strong. Maybe one of these days the gun lobby will finally succeed in attaining absolute second amendment rights for all, thereby empowering our children with the freedom to carry firearms. But for now it’s not fair: if an 18-year-old can walk into a sporting goods store and walk out with an assault rifle, why can’t my toddler walk into a Toys R Us and toddle out with a handgun to protect himself? Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous because Toys R Us stores are no longer around, but the real point is that 19 children, who were unarmed save for pencils and erasers, are no longer around either–their futures erased by another bullied teen with a grudge and an assault rifle. If adults won’t do anything to stop this madness, at least we ought to give our children a fighting chance. 

It blows my mind that we can’t pass meaningful gun laws, that something as common sense as, say, a toddler-carry law isn’t already on the books. It’s hard to believe it was 23 years ago when I was in the 9th grade that Columbine happened. And here we are still, still dealing with mass shootings at schools. In hindsight, if the past 23 years of frequent mass shootings has taught us anything, it ought to be the fallacy of the oft-repeated statement: “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” 

After 23 years, that statement should ring as hollow as a hollow-tip bullet (the type of bullet that was legally purchased in bulk to slaughter 20 defenseless children in Sandy Hook and 19 in Uvalde). Maybe it’s finally time we replace that statement with something that may save more lives, something like, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a toddler with a gun.” Indeed, toddler-carry may be the only thing that can save our children, at least in an age when school resource officers are too afraid to engage mass shooters because they’re outgunned, as happened in Parkland and apparently now in Uvalde. Or, think about it this way: if Ronald Regan supported something as ridiculous as a national ban on assault rifles (which he did), surely to goodness everyone will support something as common sense as a toddler-carry law. 

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