I had planned to blog today on Advent. But I must admit I did not sleep well last night. The visions of news reports from Newtown, CN kept replaying. I couldn't watch my usual TV programs of whodunits. I couldn't even read my ever-present mystery to put me to sleep. The tragedy of children being murdered in their classrooms and the insanity that perpetrates such acts sadly is not unimaginable. It images lie all around us in classrooms and college campuses.
The sad part is that no one is talking about the elephant in the living room: the preponderance of automatic and semi-automatic weapons in the hands of those who are depressed, homicidal, or suicidal. And to the politicians that are afraid of the NRA, it is time! It is time to stand up to the gun lobby for the sake of our children.
Back in my teens and twenties, I was a shooting buff. A neighbor got me into a rifle program where I learned hunter's safety, shot in matches and got medals for my prowess. The NRA still runs great programs for young hunters. I too became an instructor and even taught marksmanship at a summer camp. I had learned in my Junior High Days of the potential danger of guns: a popular school chum had killed his best friend in a hunting accident. I grieved then for the boy who was killed and I still grieve for the man who has carried that death in his heart for over 50 years. So I learned the proper respect for firearms. But these were single shot .22's, not assault weapons.
Throughout 80's and 90's this gun culture grew to include various militia craziness in parts of the country because the disenfranchised were drawn to paramilitary games led by ideological wing-nuts that played war games in the unpopulated West. Add to all of this paranoia the drug culture that makes humans lethal at almost all levels, it is not surprising that we are experiencing gun violence at a level that wrenches the hearts of us all. We are not alone, in this country. We need but remember the Swedish killer, the bombings of various terrorists or 'freedom fighters' who strap explosives to their chests to kill as many as they can.
But there is one way to end much of the carnage in our world. Bring a halt to the production of guns. Curtailing the large magazine automatic and semi-automatic guns is one way of addressing the gun violence in our nation. Limiting accessibility to assault weapons and large magazine hand guns can save lives. But I wonder if we have the nerve to do it. We have become a culture that is so centered on 'protection' that we have made our world unsafe for our children, our most vulnerable.
It is time--it was time 10 years ago after Columbine, it was time 50 years ago when there was a gunman on the University of TX tower.