This is not my usual happy-go-lucky fare. But in reading another blogger’s post, I felt moved to do this. Not to push a political agenda, but to tell a story. One that should never happen. Please go see Kylie’s blog post “The Right to Bear Harms”, and watch her video. I cannot imagine her loss. But I did have one of my own.
When I was nine years old, they told me that my grandfather had been murdered. He owned a store that sold guns in a small Texas town. He was shot by one of his own guns. This was the first time in my life I had ever seen my father cry. My mother only told me he was shot because she knew people would be talking about it. It had been on the news in his home town, and they didn’t get much news there.
I wasn’t really close to my grandfather. I heard later he wasn’t the best father. But he was the only father my father had. Mostly I remember going to his store and sitting on the pool table and listening to the jute box while I ate chick-o-sticks. But no matter what kind of person he was, he didn’t deserve to die on the floor of his shop. And my father didn’t deserve to have to live with the grisly death of his father.
People came to his funeral – people who didn’t know anything about him, because it was a scandal. They were curious. They thought it was exciting. They didn’t think of his family when they crowded in that funeral home. I was too young to understand this at the time. I was told later. I was also told later, by an aunt, just how he was shot, and how many times. Now I have that imagery in my mind.
None of us should have had to see the special they had on TV about the executions in Texas, when they spoke about the execution of his killer, and put up pictures of my grandfather, a person, on TV. Yet much of his family still support guns. They watched the killer get executed. Let me repeat this. They watched another person murdered in front of them. Have we really come that far from the Middle Ages?
I remember when hearing about a school shooting was a rarity. Now it seems to happen once a month. Remember how the media played up Sandy Hook? How many people still even remember Sandy Hook? Those parents do. They will never forget that day for the rest of their lives. Some of these people are working, tirelessly, reviving the memory of their children, over and over again in an attempt to get better gun legislation. Too few are listening.
My father is a pacifist. He went to Vietnam as he was told to do. They had the soldiers raise their guns and shout “Kill!” My father raised his gun. But they couldn’t make him shout kill. By sheer luck, he was able to be a medic during the war, and he was eternally grateful that he got to help people, not hurt them. Soldiers even now return, having had to kill, and are forced back into everyday society where suddenly it is a crime to do so. Many have nightmares for the rest of their lives. Some have taken their lives. Others have taken the lives of their family. And for what? Do we even know what we are fighting for anymore? Do not misunderstand me. I support the troops, every single man and woman and child, because, I’m sorry, 18 is a child. I support them by wanting to keep them alive.
After Sandy Hook, many people wanted to put the blame on mental illness. The man was mentally ill – that’s the real problem, not the gun. We should help mentally ill people. That’s true. But here’s the kicker. If he hadn’t had all those weapons – clips with so many rounds, he wouldn’t have been able to shoot so many children so fast. Sure he could have used a knife – but chances are far greater he could have been stopped before killing an entire classroom. Instead, he walked in, and blew them away in seconds. Seconds. In seconds all those lives were snuffed. All those names of those babies were read on the news. And what did people say? Clearly, we need more guns. We need to arm teachers. We need armed guards outside the schools. We need, apparently, to function like those war torn countries we send our soldiers to. We need to do this to protect our rights. Our rights to own guns. Our right not to have to have a three day waiting period, a license, training in using the weapons, or child safety locks. The NRA fights against any legislation having to do with gun ownership. Any.
Recently, I wrote a post about the insane day we had at our college when a man robbed a nearby convenience store. In wake of all these tragedies, the entire university was shut down for two hours while police officers tirelessly combed the area, making sure that an armed robber had not made his way on campus. As it turned out, the robbery was all staged, and there was nothing to be worried about. But because of the tragedies, we must react this way, because we don’t know when it will be real. And that same afternoon I put up that post, there was another shooting at another university. The same day. Yet even with all this insanity, the university is considering letting people bring guns on campus – for defense. Guess what? When you’re acting like Rambo, the cops don’t know who the bad guy is. You aren’t helping anybody, just making the jobs of the police officers harder. At best, they’ll shoot you because, as part of their jobs, they don’t have time to check and see if you’re “good” or “bad”. They see someone with a weapon, they shoot. So please quit fooling yourself.
Do you think you need one for home protection? How likely do you think it is that you’ll be able to wake up from a sound sleep, grab your gun, and shoot the intruder, all while your body is reacting to stress? And if you keep that gun in your bedside table drawer, loaded and unlocked, how likely is it that a child or someone else could get hold of it? Many gun deaths happen because someone shot their own family members while defending their homes. Many gun deaths happen because children shoot each other.
My husband is a gun owner – I’m sure that surprises you. They were passed down in his family. He shoots targets. He would never harm anyone. And he has been trained in operating his weapons. But not everyone is like him. As a compromise, the guns are kept unloaded in a locked gun cabinet. I still don’t like them, but I deal with it. So I’m not completely ignorant. I know guns aren’t always used to kill. But I also know that the only real purpose of a gun is to kill something, whether animal or human. Unlike cars, and knives, that is their only purpose.
I could link you to the many, many news stories talking about gun deaths and statistics. And I’m sure those on the other side could do the same. But I’m not talking about numbers right now. I’m talking about our parents, our spouses, our children, our friends. Kylie’s father is not a statistic. My grandfather is not a statistic. Those children at Sandy Hook elementary school are not statistics. They were people. And now they are all dead.
We live in fear of the next shooting now, just as our elders feared the atomic bomb. Why?
- Santa Monica Mass Shooter From Lebanon Planned To Kill Hundreds With Stockpile Of Guns And Ammo (themuslimissue.wordpress.com)
- Sandy Hook victims’ names read out six months on (itv.com)