By Sherry Pasquarello,WWH/CJE –
I wasn’t sure until just now as I type, if I was or wanted to write about the school shooting, THIS school shooting. I turned off my television this morning at 8:30 and the quiet seems like healing medicine today.
I’ve been reading a lot of comments on the internet. Everyone has their opinions and they have reasons for them born of their personal life experiences. So, I’m not putting down anyone’s posts or articles. ( Unless, those opinions are just for the sake of furthering a media career or for financial gain.) I’m just going to give my opinions based on my life experiences. Take them or leave them but I hope that you’ll think about them.
GUNS, well, I have something to say about them. I believe that, anyone that chooses to own a gun should be required to pass a thorough background check AND training on and with that specific weapon by a certified training facility. I also believe that if the gun buyer has anyone living with them who has been diagnosed with a mental illness they be denied a gun. I think too, that if the gun owner has children under the age of 25 living in their home that they be required to pay a higher premium on their homeowner’s policy just as most car insurance policies charge parents higher rates for children under 25 on their policies. Make people more aware that owning a gun in a big responsibility, just as driving a car is.
I grew up with guns in my home. My father hunted. He came from a rural area and a poor family and hunting was a way of life. It is far more than a sport to some families. It is a tradition. I understand that, and most hunters are extremely respectful with the ownership and the skill involved, far more than a lot of handgun owners that I have known through the years. They also follow the laws involved. Me? I don’t hunt. My father tried to teach me but I wouldn’t kill anything and I disliked shooting. I grew up with the culture and I respect it. I just want no part of it.
I also know and have known a few folks that love competitive shooting. Target and skeet, things like that. Most of the people are keen on skills aspect. It’s like golf or bowling but with guns. Not my cup of tea but I can see the time and effort and practice they put into it and they are very, very, cautious with the handling and storing of those weapons. Still thefts can occur but these weapons at least are not killing machines. I cannot fathom the joy someone gets out of owning a semi or a fully automatic assault weapon. It’s a useless but deadly thing. I can understand people that own rattlesnakes far easier than machine gun owners. It’s not like they could pull out a machine gun if someone surprised them as they kicked in a door. I’ve seen them fired on MYTHBUSTERS and in some other programs. People say they get a rush and a lot of fun out of firing them. I believe them. I have seen places where one can go to and have instruction and fire the weapons that the range owns. If that is your thing, go ahead. But, gun owners know as well as I do that accidents, even under controlled situations happen at shooting ranges. Accidents will always happen in life. No person, and no activity is 100 percent safe. It’s more a matter of odds.
As for the second amendment, unless you are in some branch of the military, you are not part of a well regulated militia.So spare me that bit of flag waving. Be honest with yourself about the reasons that you, yourself, want or feel the need to own a gun. Be honest too by admitting that the N R A is a powerful political organization and lobbying force. Money, they have tons of it. Think about that fact. Too much power can corrupt something. Maybe it’s time for the membership to rein in their leaders.
A word too, about mental illness. Almost everyone by now knows that we have a mental health crisis in our country. We understand the problem on our streets but unless you’ve dealt with or are close to families that have to deal with it in their homes, it’s hard to comprehend just how routine it becomes at times. Imagine if you will, a son or a daughter , your child, losing themselves as the illness progresses. Your hopes and dreams for their future slowly go from imagining that someday they could be anything they want, even a president, to just celebrating a calm day when they seem almost average. Even with insurance, even if you are middle class or upper, mental illness can not only beggar you, a lot of the time it just isn’t available or of decent quality. There are times when, sadly, nothing can stop the progression of the disease. I have seen that close up. Yes, it does almost become routine, because it is. It’s close to watching someone age throughout the years. Then too there is always that small fragile hope that this might be the day that your son or daughter gets better or a new treatment is found. Hope dies far harder than it should sometimes. Denial, depending on circumstances can be deadly, but it’s damn understandable. I’ve seen families of late stage cancer patients still hold on to the hope that the dying patient will somehow miraculously open their eyes and sit up asking for a favorite meal. How could a parent of a mentally ill child not hold onto that same degree of hope?
One thing I can and will say because I firmly believe it- we need less people armed, not more. We don’t need guns in churches or armed teachers. Someone posted a photo of a female teacher in Israel with an assault rifle slung over her shoulder as she took her class out for a field trip. They were certain that this is the way to go in our schools. Israel is NOT America. Canada isn’t sending suicide bombers or lobbing missiles our way. Besides, I have known a few teachers in my day that shouldn’t be armed. Teachers are people too. Not only that but it would be just another way for an accidental shooting OR a disturbed child to have access to a weapon.
In my high school years and in the few right after, we had an accidental shooting involving two best friends since grade school. One died at the other’s hand. We also had a case where a brother and his buddy accidentally discharged a gun in the kitchen and it went through the wall and killed his sister. I nearly killed my own father late one night thinking he was an intruder. I was alone in the house and the rest of my family was on a fishing trip. They came back unexpected at 2 in the morning. My father, seeing lights on in more than one room of our house decided to sneak in and see what was what. I’m not sure what he expected to find me doing , but I KNOW that he didn’t expect me to come round the corner above him with a huge plumber’s pipe wrench coming down aimed at his head as he tiptoed up the stairs. If I had loaded the handgun he had in the house things would have been far worse. Accidents happen.
So, I hope that before the shock and grief and anger starts to fade or is replaced by some new horror, we finally come to some sort of a meaningful dialogue and a positive action towards the problems facing our country that this latest horrific act has brought to our attention.
If not now, WHEN?