Remembering the children and educators lost on December 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Seven Years Later

By Ruth Gadebusch

On the seven-year-anniversary of that horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, the gun situation in this nation is hardly better. In fact, one could argue that it is worse.

There seem to be more gun owners with malice in their heads and more guns than ever, to say nothing of the amount of ammunition out there. Somehow, the part of the Second Amendment to our U.S. Constitution that says “well regulated” gets lost.

With the horrors of the lifeless bodies of those little children on the threshold of life and their teachers lying there, even the National Rifle Association (NRA) expected the demands for gun control to have some success. Accordingly, the NRA simply upped the volume of its absurd blindness to reality.

Even the most ardent gun-control advocates are not attempting to outlaw all guns. They just want some common-sense limitations. There are legitimate reasons for guns but not in the hands of the mentally deranged or haters and certainly not those convicted of crimes involving such weapons.

Yes, no matter the law some who should never have guns will obtain them under certain circumstances; however, that does not justify the cry, “If guns are outlawed, only criminals will have guns.”

In the case of the Sandy Hook shooter, it is difficult to comprehend how the mother of the shooter could have failed to discern the threat of her live-in son having access to guns in the home. Sometimes the interest/passion of some simply blinds them to the threat of those whom they love.

This nation has gone from the “snake pit” treatment of mental illness to weighing in favor of personal rights seldom recognizing that the nature of such illness requires the constraint of some.

Obviously, it isn’t just laws that are needed but also the alertness of all. Guns and ammunition are here to stay, but when, where and how they are used can be controlled to the extent that the results of the day-to-day mass shootings of humans can be reduced, if not eliminated.

What is the objection to registering weapons? Why does any civilian need military weapons designed for the sole purpose of killing humans? Likewise regarding certain ammunition?

Statistics clearly show that guns in homes more often than not kill or injure not intruders but rather someone mistaken as illegitimate. Then there are the ones carelessly left for access by innocent children not appreciating the finality of pulling that trigger.

Can it be that our violent entertainment and vivid exposure to devastating news inures us to the real consequences? After all, children do not have the perspective to separate reality from “make-believe.”

Granted, guns were usually a man’s kind of thing, but I grew up with them on a Southern farm. That farm is now a hunting preserve where shooters eat their kill. It is recreation and subsistence.

Those hunters will not go hungry without the kill as food, but I note that it is excellent food and no different in morality than the other meats most of us enjoy—be it birds, big game or domestic animals. Lest I be misunderstood, I state there is no excuse whatsoever for recreational hunting of endangered species.

Back to guns on the farm: In my day, women did not hunt, but I well remember that my grandmother kept a loaded pistol high up on the tall old bed headboards readily accessible. The fear of the night was for a prowler but more likely for the traditional fox in the hen house! No doors were locked because serious crime was little known in our rural area.

In a slightly later period as the world had become more congested and threatening, I knew the wife of a governor who often found herself alone on their farm. In a bit more populated area, she periodically shot off her gun into the air just to let the community know that she had it and would use it to protect her family.

Of course, both my grandmother and the governor’s wife knew how to use a gun and how to keep it out of the hands of ignorant or innocent family members.

My own exposure consisted of once shooting a .22 rifle, a rather mild weapon until I met up with a .45 in my U.S. Naval officer training. To my surprise, I found the .45 more than daunting. No one warned me of the force, the kickback, of such a gun!

The Navy used this wicked weapon because it required little training to down a target with not much more than a graze; not a weapon for everyday use. I did have occasion to wear it once, holstered around my waist, only to find my assigned driver was just as fearful of a woman with a gun as I was of any danger we might encounter on the night delivery of a top-secret message.

Oh, how things have changed with so many thinking the way to safety is to have a gun in the home and, worse yet, carry one with them into schools and churches. What a sad story for society. 

What does it take for society to, at the very least, curb the seeming love of the gun prohibiting any controls? Sandy Hook did not do it. Nor did the shooting in the Pittsburgh Jewish temple, or the small church in Texas, or the Charleston church Bible study group or the almost daily shootings of individuals in our own city as a way of settling disputes.

As this is written, the funeral service of a well-known Hmong singer is being conducted. His people escaped the violence of war for what they thought was a sanctuary in Fresno only to meet this fate.

Isn’t it time that common sense prevailed? Isn’t there room in our Constitution for reasonable interpretation to fit changing conditions? How long? How long?

What does it take for us to rein in this gun madness? It is time. It is past time.

*****

Ruth Gadebusch, a community activist, is a former Naval officer, Fresno Unified School Board trustee, California Teacher Credentialing Commission member and an emeritus member of the Center for Civic Education Board of Directors.

  • The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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