+
Democracy

A man told me gun laws would create more 'soft targets.' He summed up the whole problem.

As far as I know, there are only two places in the world where people living their lives are referred to as 'soft targets.'

gun violence, mass shootings, school shootings
Photo by Taylor Wilcox on Unsplash

Only in America are kids in classrooms referred to as "soft targets."

On the Fourth of July, a gunman opened fire at a parade in quaint Highland Park, Illinois, killing at least six people, injuring dozens and traumatizing (once again) an entire nation.

My family member who was at the parade was able to flee to safety, but the trauma of what she experienced will linger. For the toddler with the blood-soaked sock, who was carried to safety by a stranger after being pulled from under his father's bullet-torn body and ended up losing both of his parents in the massacre, life will never be the same.

There's a phrase I keep seeing in debates over gun violence, one that I can't seem to shake from my mind. After the Uvalde school shooting, I shared my thoughts on why arming teachers is a bad idea, and a gentleman responded with this brief comment:

"Way to create more soft targets."


Soft targets. That phrase gets me every time.

As far as I know, there are only two places in the world where children in school or people gathering for enjoyment are referred to as "soft targets"—active war zones and the United States of America.

Never in a million years would I think to use the words "soft targets" to refer to schoolchildren—or parade-goers, or people enjoying a live concert, or grocery shoppers or people in a bible study. I wouldn't even use the term "unarmed civilians" unless I were in the military and actively involved in a military operation.

They're not targets, they're people. People just living life.

That's what freedom is supposed to be, isn't it? The ability to just live life?

Instead, we are being held hostage by a militarized monster of our own making, one that says the answer to America's gun violence is more guns. (The irony, of course, being the fact that we already have more guns than people.) We see it in the weird worshipping of weapons, the Christmas cards with the whole family carrying, the bizarre fetish with one interpretation of one constitutional amendment to the exclusion of all others. It's in the language being used not only in reference to guns, but in reference to people just going about their daily lives—that is, "soft targets."

The truth is we should be "soft targets." No, really. That's what freedom is. We should be able to go to school and the store and our houses of worship without fear of being shot. We should be able to peaceably assemble per our First Amendment right without being scattered and shattered by gunfire.

We shouldn't feel the need to arm ourselves simply to go about our daily lives. Feeling compelled to carry a gun at all times isn't freedom. Living like we're living right now, with mass shootings on the regular, isn't freedom. And adding more guns won't make us more free. It won't. It hasn't.

If the Highland Park parade shooting proved anything, it's that even an event with a police presence in an idyllic, upscale, objectively "safe" suburb isn't safe from mass gun violence. There were good guys with guns there. There were good guys with guns in Uvalde, too. There were good guys with guns in Buffalo. So many good guys with guns. And yet, here we are.

It's time to look in the mirror and recognize how ridiculous we've become. Other civilized nations don't refer to children as "soft targets." They just don't. While we're debating whether the U.S. is a gun violence outlier because of doors or video games or mental illness, which the rest of the world has as well, our peers in other developed countries live their daily lives with freedom that we do not have—the freedom to gather without worrying that a whack job with a weapon of war is going to open fire, the freedom to go to school without rehearsing for a mass shooting event, the freedom to not ever think about carrying a gun to defend themselves against other guns.

Gun violence can happen anywhere, yes. But it happens far, far more often here than in other developed nations. There's a reason for that. Perhaps when we finally accept that our culture's dysfunctional relationship with guns is the problem, the idea of referring to people simply living their lives as "soft targets" will be as disturbing here as it is everywhere else.

Courtesy of Molly Simonson Lee

Flight attendant sits on floor to comfort passenger

Not everyone enjoys flying. The level of non-enjoyment can range from mild discomfort to full blown Aerophobia, which is defined as an extreme fear of flying. While flying is the quickest way to get to far away destinations, for some people being that far off the ground is terrifying and they'd rather take their chances on the ground.

A passenger flying from Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in North Carolina to JFK International Airport in New York confronted that fear while flying with Delta. The woman, who is currently still unidentified expressed that she was nervous to fly according to Molly Simonson Lee, a passenger seated behind the woman who witnessed the encounter. Tight spaces don't make for much privacy, but in this case, the world is better for knowing this took place.

According to Lee, who posted about the exchange on Facebook, the Delta flight attendant, Floyd Dean-Shannon, took his time to give the nervous traveler his undivided attention. Lee told Upworthy the unidentified passenger, "was very nervous and even before the plane took off, she was visibly shaken by each sound."

Keep ReadingShow less
Identity

U.S. finally renames public sites to replace a racist term for Native American women

"Words matter, particularly in our work to ensure our nation's public lands and waters are accessible and welcoming to people of all backgrounds," said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.

The Department of Interior has renamed hundreds of national geographic features that include racist language.

Names matter.

That's the message from the Department of the Interior as it works to replace the names of public lands that are outdated at best and outright offensive at worst.

In November 2021, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland—the first Native American person to serve as a cabinet secretary in U.S. history—established a task force to review the names of the nation's geographic features and replace the ones that include racist and derogatory terminology.

Keep ReadingShow less
popular

Gen X advice for Gen Z: Woman shares the things she wishes 'somebody told me in my twenties’

'You date people you think you deserve. You deserve better.'

Gen Xer shares some timeless advice for Gen Z.

Meghan Smith is the owner of Melody Note Vintage store in the eternally hip town of Palm Springs, California, and her old-school Gen X advice has really connected with younger people on TikTok.

In a video posted in December 2022, she shares the advice she wishes that “somebody told me in my twenties” and it has received more than 13 million views. Smith says that she gave the same advice to her partner's two daughters when they reached their twenties.

The video is hashtagged #GenX advice for #GenZ and late #millennials. Sorry older millennials, you’re too old to receive these pearls of wisdom.

Keep ReadingShow less
Science

Ecologist 'burst into tears' seeing endangered gliders using boxes designed to save them

A third of the greater gliders' remaining habitat was destroyed in the Australian wildfires, and researchers didn't know if their high-tech box idea would work.

Greater gliders are endangered in Australia and rely on old-growth tree hollows to make their nests.

When a team of Australian researchers started checking the high-tech boxes they'd installed to help save endangered greater gliders, they weren't sure what they were going to find. The hope was that the tree-dwelling marsupials would use them for nesting—a replacement for the tree hollows they normally nest in—but no one knew whether or not the creatures would take to them.

So when Dr. Kita Ashman, Threatened Species and Climate Adaptation Ecologist at WWF-Australia, found a glider in the second box she checked, she was thrilled.

"I just burst into tears, I was so surprised and so happy," she told ABC News Australia.

Keep ReadingShow less

It's rare enough to capture one antler being shed

For those not well versed in moose facts, the shedding of antlers is normally a fairly lengthy process. It happens only once a year after mating season and usually consists of a moose losing one antler at a time.

It’s incredibly rare for a bull moose to lose both at the same time—and even more rare that someone would actually catch it on film.

That’s why shed hunter (yes, that’s a real term) and woodsman Derek Burgoyne calls his footage of the phenomenon a “one-in-a-million” shot.

Keep ReadingShow less

Chris Biggs and the things that were "awful" in the '80s.

Rosy retrospection is a cognitive bias that all humans share. It alters our perception of the past by making us feel that it was better than it actually was. While there’s nothing wrong with looking back at the past fondly, it also leads people to think that the future will be worse, leading to a bias known as declinism.

We see these biases play out in the real world when politicians call for America to return to a perfect past that never happened. Or when older people criticize the younger generation for being lazy, entitled and weak.

Chris Biggs, one-half of Ottawa, Canada’s Biggs & Barr show on Chez 106.1 is doing his part to remind people that the ‘80s weren’t that great in a series of viral TikTok posts. The comedian recently put out four videos about “things from an '80s childhood that were awful.”

Keep ReadingShow less