Seven weeks ago, a 20-year-old man walked into an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., and killed 26 people.
Across the country we mourned their loss — lives cut tragically short by a guy on a whim with a loaded semi-automatic assault rifle; and before the first children were ever laid to rest, the debate on gun control was fired up once more.
There was, and still remains, a barrage of Facebook postings by certain friends of mine — those Second Amendment supporters declaring that guns aren’t the problem, people are.
Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.
I think there’s a whole lot of gray area in that statement. Sure, it takes a person to pull the trigger, although I seem to recall a story once about a hunting dog pulling a trigger and injuring its owner — pure accident, no doubt; but it also takes a loaded weapon, made to kill, to do what was done inside that Connecticut school.
In the seven weeks since the school shooting, I’m more confused about the gun debate than ever.
You see, I’m a farm kid. I grew up with guns in the closet and three brothers and a dad who shot them. They — the guys and their guns — took care of the varmint population, shot sporting clays, walked miles and miles in their quest for pheasants and deer and honed a hobby they continue to enjoy today. Some members of my family own assault rifles and use them to target shoot and hunt; and if they want to spend hundreds of dollars on a black gun that brings them enjoyment, I’m OK with that.
At the same time, I really don’t think those black guns belong in the hands of an inner-city gang member in Chicago, or in the hands of a confused, bullied, mentally ill — whatever — young adult in small-town U.S.A.
How can you regulate guns so the hunters who use them appropriately can do so, yet keep them out of the hands of those who are more apt to abuse them?
I don’t know, and I’m not sure anyone has a real good answer to that question.
Last week, while visiting with a 4-H’er at a University of Minnesota Extension Citizens Advisory Committee meeting, we talked briefly about Citizenship Washington Focus. The week-long event at the National 4-H Center brings 4-H’ers together from across the country, and part of the experience is to debate an issue facing legislators in Washington, D.C. When I participated back in 1989, I was one of dozens of 4-H’ers given the assignment to debate gun control.
Now, it’s 24 years later, and what are we doing? Still debating gun control.
I don’t have any answers, but I’m hoping our leaders do. I’m tired of hearing about tragedy after tragedy.
It takes me back to a song I remember hearing when I was growing up — an Anne Murray tune, for those of you who are country music fans:
“There’s a local paper rolled up in a rubber band
One more sad story’s one more than I can stand
Just once how I’d like to see the headline say
‘Not much to print today, can’t find nothin’ bad to say’, because
Nobody robbed a liquor store on the lower part of town
Nobody OD’ed, nobody burned a single buildin’ down
Nobody fired a shot in anger, nobody had to die in vain
We sure could use a little good news today.”