photo of a rifle

Guns

This is about freedom–freedom to live without terror when you go to school, or when you go to a theater, or when you run or walk through the streets of a city or town. I am usually willing to keep my personal views to myself without trying to foist them on others. Until now. This is not political.

Who are we that sit and weep quietly by our TV screens when some other person’s child gets gunned down? We who pray that we are not shot for what we do when we leave our houses? We who live in fear of those who are lost and lashing out? It is time for us to do something to help both ourselves and them.

I grew up knowing about guns and what they can do. My father fought in a war. When I was six or seven I found a gun buried in a drawer in our basement. It was wrapped and hidden. I knew I was not supposed to find this and never told anyone about my discovery. I was terrified.

As a young high school teacher in Iowa, I had another encounter with the horror guns can wreak. In a water polo incident at the school where I was teaching, a student felt he had been kneed by another student while in the pool. The next day he brought a gun to school and shot that player while he was taking a shower in the locker room. The victim was paralyzed for life.

When my father reached his 80s and became unable to care of himself, that gun I discovered in my youth, which was from WWII, was found by my husband in my parent’s garage. When he showed it to my father, my father no longer had enough strength to pull the trigger. It was turned over by my mother to the local sheriff. My father discovered this and was agitated. We believe that not only was it a souvenir from his past, but it also was his solace and comfort in being able to take his own life if he needed to.

Guns can destroy lives in many ways.

My husband belonged to a rifle club when he was in high school. For many years, while we have lived in the mountains, we have had a rifle in the closet. It was secured with a trigger lock. Twice it was used with buckshot to shoot rattlesnakes that were close to the house. My husband decided to turn in our rifle to the local police department after the Columbine shooting.

Guns have long been accepted as being part of American life.

Why?

The infrequent rattlesnake leaves on its own. My father was no longer able to pull the trigger on his pistol. We are not hunters nor do we live in fear that we needed a gun for protection. Police now feel they must use guns to kill those who in the past could have been subdued by other means.

I can no longer keep silent.

I am not advocating an all or nothing policy, but I do believe the time is long overdue to take a hard look and get real. Enough! Let true freedom ring.

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