Posted by: Bill Tracy | February 9, 2011

Guns or Children – Which Do You Love?

Why in the world would you do something like this?

-Bill Badger, Colonel, U.S. Army Retired

 

He wasn’t shooting people, he was shooting at the world.

-Zach Osler, high school friend

 

It’s been a hard way to start a new year, and a second decade of the 21st century. In the year’s first few days I looked at the calendar and noticed I’m now 64 years old. No, I’m no Pollyanna who sugar coats it by saying 64 years young. I’m old, and there’s nothing else to be said – except that some folks aren’t given the benefit of growing old. Looking away from my calendar I pondered a nine-year-old girl murdered in Tucson, Arizona. An innocent child of great promise who will never look at a calendar and realize she’s old. Such sorrow, I would gladly trade places and let her have those other 55 years I got.

Playground

Children deserve to spend carefree days sharing playground fun with their parents -- not having their bodies ripped apart by bullets. The National Rifle Association doesn't agree, and the government is too weak to stand up to them and protect the children.

Like everyone, I’ve anguished over this horror, trying to figure out why a 22-year-old man would shoot and kill innocent people at random; not simple murder, rather slaughter. Given the commonplace of gun violence in this country now, you’d think I’d be inured to it. I’m not. When I saw the mug shot I literally gasped. Surely, I first thought, this was some kind of representational image they had created to communicate the ideal of a monstrous madman. But no, it was a genuine police mug shot of the slaughterer himself. It was so ghastly I could not look at it. And yet, it was so compelling I could not stop looking at it. When a reporter showed the picture to the killer’s high school friend, Zack Osler, he looked away and broke down in tears. “I can’t look at that,” he said. Obviously a bright and insightful person, Osler said one of the few things I’ve heard that makes real sense. “He wasn’t shooting people, he was shooting at the world.” That’s how Osler summed it up. As a young person trying to cope with this world Osler understands all too well. The killer is not only a madman; he’s a madman in a mad world.

The very first person to ask why it happened is maybe one of the last who could understand. Bill Badger is a retired U.S. Army Colonel. At 74, he had the courage and fortitude to put the dangerous killer on the ground and hold him until law enforcement arrived. He said while he was holding him down he asked, “Why in the world would you do something like this?” Lost apparently in his delusions, the killer did not respond. Insanity aside, the chasm separating these two men is an abyss of incomprehensible dimensions. The country Badger grew up in was so different than the one this killer grew up in, neither would recognize the other’s world. Separated by 52 years, they may as well be from different planets.

In a post last August, The Old Country, I argue that in the 1950s our culture actively nurtured youth while today we brutalize them. Why should we be surprised that today some of them go insane and choose to brutalize us right back? There is absolutely no excuse for what this slaughterer did in Tucson. He became a monster, and I am not advocating on his behalf. I am saying however, that he is a mentally disturbed man who chose to act in a way this culture recognizes as worthy of great attention – and I believe attention is what the slaughterer feels he deserves and that society had denied him. Rather than nurture, his life appears to have been one cruel rejection after another. We will now pay attention; he has pushed our buttons. That old public relations aphorism keeps playing in my head: “I don’t care what the newspapers say about me as long as they spell my name right.” I was horrified again to see that he chuckled when the case was announced at his arraignment – The United States of America vs. slaughterer’s name. He is gleeful at his notoriety. This is probably the most fulfilled and successful he has ever felt in his life. [ See http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/25/us/25loughner.html ]

Gun Store

In case you don't get the idea, this store sells guns. I'm happy to say the combination of economic recession and what the owners consider "onerous" regulations in the state of California drove them out. They moved to Texas, a state more inclined to tolerate the handgun disease.

This first tragedy of 2011 has hit me especially hard. I shopped at that Tucson supermarket when I lived there. I’ve rested in the shady spot where the event took place. Like the madman I also had film developed at the Walgreen’s next door. There was a wonderful bakery in that shopping center – my connection to a sublime cheddar-jalapeno bread, among others. And I’ve long enjoyed the irony of three stores neighboring that bakery – one an ice cream store, one a baked ham store, and sandwiched between them one of those diet companies that makes you buy all your food from them – truly non-partisan retailing. Through all the misery of this story, I’ve found the great strength shown by Ms. Giffords to be sustaining. With each report of her amazing progress I smile and feel there is reason for hope and maybe a glimmer that evil’s upper hand may ultimately be trumped.

One thing this episode has done is harden my belief that handguns must be outlawed. It is well past time. In this modern country today, police should be the only ones with handguns – anyone else who possesses one should be considered a criminal. Yes, I know, people who take that position are considered “unreasonable,” and probably naïve. Well, it’s time for the people who love life and value children more than guns to stand up and take the handguns away from those who are addicted to them. This addiction has everything to do with fear and powerlessness and nothing to do with love. And our children die to keep this sick addiction alive.

I will not tolerate “reasonable” discussions of the Second Amendment or self defense from criminals and gangs and home invaders and all the other nonsense paraded out as legitimate argument in favor of killing children. The Second Amendment is a relic of a time when modern handguns did not even exist and the musket was the principal weapon of armies. Each man going to war was expected to have his own gun so there was good cause to ensure his right to have one. No one starting a country today would suggest each man keep a bomber aircraft or an artillery piece in his garage simply because that’s how wars are conducted today – and if the government gets out of hand, we the people need the means to retaliate in kind. A standing army and modern weaponry make the Second Amendment moot. I suspect the arrogant Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia would laugh at that, and since he knows everything better than everyone, he will say it’s wrong. I say cemeteries chockablock with bullet-riddled dead children attest to his being wrong, monstrously wrong.

Cowboy & Cowgirl

A cowboy and cowgirl out on the town. Given the concern in this man's face, I'm willing to bet he would choose his daughter over a handgun.

Much as I’d also like to see rifles and shotguns converted to plowshares, I’ll settle for them being kept in locked and secure containers in homes. If your idea of sport is hunting down defenseless animals, so be it. The more advanced among us will go to the supermarket for our food. Neither will I entertain the nonsense about someone breaking into your home. Most people being shot breaking into homes these days are police entering the wrong homes with no-knock warrants. This paranoia about home invasions approaches the level of mental illness, and it’s fomented by the National Rifle Association to keep the fearful and brain dead coming back for more of the poison they peddle so relentlessly. And I will greet with scorn anyone who offers up that ludicrous argument that guns don’t kill people, it’s the people who kill people.

This nation is addicted to guns, and it’s no less a curse than the person addicted to heroin. We do not tolerate a national association promoting the right to heroin. Yet the National Rifle Association is the equivalent of a National Heroin Association promoting disease and death. When a country so loves guns that they will sacrifice their children to keep using them, it’s a disease – and a disgrace. And it’s time the sane and caring people in this country stand up and confront the awful illness within us. You don’t sit down at the kitchen table with an addict and try to convince him to use a little less heroin each day. You take the drug away and you keep it away if you care about him.

Again, I know the reaction to what I’m saying. The “reasonable” people will smile condescendingly. “It could never happen,” they’ll say. “The entrenched powers are far too strong.” The honest ones will simply shake their head and say it’s just too idealistic. It cannot be done. The best we can hope for are perhaps small steps. Maybe the Congress will allow the regulation of 30-round magazines and such. After all the country is awash in guns, and the criminals have so many and they’re not giving theirs up.

If you want easy, go join the baby killers at the NRA. If you love children and think they deserve to live, we’ve got a lot of hard work to do on their behalf.

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Responses

  1. Amen !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Send me an E Mail………..I lost my address book…..


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