Ruth Gadebush

We Can Do Better

Rat-a-tat-tat. Bang, bang, swosh. Another life lost to gunshot. How many? How long are we going to tolerate this loss of life, this loss of talent, this sorrow? How long? How long?

A Colorado school didn’t do it. Twenty-six elementary students and teachers in Connecticut didn’t do it. More high schoolers and teachers in Florida didn’t do it. A beauty shop in Atlanta, a church in Texas, a synagogue in Pennsylvania, a grocery store in Buffalo and too many others to count.

“Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” The truth is that guns are inanimate but with the help of people do the damage that we continue to see in this nation at a greater rate than in any other nation. Nor do any other personal weapons have the same instant effectiveness.

Nowhere else on the planet is such devastation found in supposed peace. As for this nation, we are not even thinking of those guns used by law enforcement, game hunters, farmers or “just in case” home protection.

Pistols and rifles in the wrong hands long considered as home or personal protection or other necessity are dangerous enough, but the adherents of the National Rifle Association think it is perfectly OK for ordinary citizens to possess and use military style AR-15s.  

Please! The AR-15 is designed for the battlefield. Its bullets destroy human tissue in a way that few other small ammunition weapons can do. Just think about it: Many young students of Robb Elementary School had to be identified by DNA due to the destruction of their bodies. What a sight for the early responders. Emergency physicians also note that larger bodies suffer substantially more damage than from other bullets.

And then there are the parents attempting to identify the bodies of their children. One young girl saved her life by smearing herself with the blood of her dead classmates. Do I need to explain that it made the killer think she was dead and therefore he went on to others?

And representatives in our governing bodies are content to send prayers and sympathy to the communities, the parents and other loved ones. What does it take? How much more, how many more times do we sustain such tragedies?  

Granted, we can never wipe out all such disasters but we can do something to mitigate this horror. The rest of the civilized world does not approach the instances we have sustained. They do not have a Second Amendment written in a different era when the likes of today’s world could not be comprehended.

It is strange to me that the constitutionalists of today who so assiduously stick to the wording of such measures cannot imagine how the writers would see the Second Amendment in today’s world.

Unimaginable as it might seem, manufacturers are now advertising guns made for children. No, not play guns but real operating ones. As if all the play image guns were not suggestive enough. How many children have been killed by picking up a real loaded one without the appreciation of what it can do, what it was meant to do.

There are also the drinking buddies who think the gun is unloaded until pulling the trigger proves otherwise, all too often with irrevocable damage. In those cases, the damage is not just to the victim but also to the shooter. Even if the perpetrator escapes prison, s/he lives with the guilt forever, hardly better than the life cut short.

Recently, there have been cases right in our area of a person deliberately killing a family member in anger derived from an unresolved source. Whether the shooter is mentally deranged or what the damage, the grief, the guilt is there and someone’s loved one is forever gone.

Yes, these things can happen without guns, but there is every indication that something about a gun in one’s hand is more likely to escalate the situation.

There really is no reason not to register guns or to eliminate other possible tracing. If they are not used illegally there is no need to trace so what harm is done? Furthermore, we register our vehicles and other items that might need non-criminal identification.

I am definitely not anti-gun. I just want to see them used more responsibly. Gun registration and use training hardly seems too much to expect. Certainly, some mentally deranged people would not find it so easy to purchase or otherwise get a gun—of any type, much less a military weapon. Nor are rapid fire bullets needed by ordinary citizens.

My childhood memories still see a pistol hanging on the high wooden headboard in my grandmother’s bedroom in rural Georgia. It was well out of reach of us children, an absolute never touch. No doubt, almost beyond her petite stature but she used it on the farm when necessary. Many a fox lost its taste for chicken from her persuasion.

I don’t even remember where the shotguns for hunting quail were kept, but be assured we children never thought about them. The boys were allowed to use .22 rifles when they were older but not girls of my day.

Once I was allowed to make one shot with the rifle. Thus, I was totally unprepared for the kick of the .45 pistol that all naval officers at one time or another had to shoot. The navy used that pistol precisely because of its strength if one only glazed a target.

Today, still in my family, the Georgia farm where I grew up is largely used by hunters of game birds that make a tasty dish after providing recreation and a bit of help for the economy. Obviously, guns are a large part of this lifestyle and I am grateful for it; however, that is a legitimate use of guns. No hunter objects to the license that must be purchased for hunting.

It is time to face the fact that guns have a use other than war, but it is a limited use. A life is greater beyond comparison, justifying restraints on how, when and by whom a gun/pistol/rifle can be used and what kind has no place at all legitimately and morally.  Good as they are, prayers and sympathy are not the answer. My God expects more. It is time for our legislators to act with our full support.

What a joyful celebration of the birth of the United States of America to celebrate with legitimate fireworks in the sky rather than guns in the streets. Happy Fourth of July!

  • Ruth Gadebusch, a former naval officer, was recently recognized by the League of Women Voters with its Lipton Award for volunteer work in various community endeavors. She was elected four times to the Fresno Unified School District Board, appointed by Governor George Deukmejian to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and is an emeritus member of the Board of the Center for Civic Education.

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