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When I grew up, from kindergarten on, I walked to school. And as a kindergartener and a first grader, I really didn’t like school and more times than I can tell you, I just got up and walked home to my grandmother’s house. I don’t think anyone ever really noticed that I was gone, except for my grandmother, I can’t remember it ever being discussed. There were no locks on the doors and certainly no policeman that I ever saw. When my children were of school age and went to public school in Waitsfield, as far as I can remember no one made sure the doors were locked and anyone who wanted to visit, walked right into the front door.
What in the world has happened in this short time? And it makes me wonder if our schools are really safe! But I think that the bigger question is, other than a soldier whose job is to defend our country, what in the world does anyone need with an assault weapon of any kind?
As I sat and watched TV and understood what had happened in Newtown, Connecticut, I cried. I not only cried for those poor little first grade children who were slaughtered by a deranged maniac, I cried for their parents and families, and for the adults who lost their lives trying to defend the little children in their care. And I cried for all those children who escaped with their lives but who will never ever be free of that horrible memory. And I cried for all those who live and work in Newtown. But I also cried for my children and my grandchildren and myself! All of us who heard about this tragedy and all of those who will hear and understand what happened will never, ever be the same again. Not only have our lives changed, but the lives of every single American has changed, too. No longer can we feel safe. Who knows when some mentally disturbed person will take his own assault weapon or one that belongs to his mother or father, and decide to use it to kill as many innocents as possible. We don’t know when or how or even who!
My son is a hunter. He has had a gun since he was 10 years old. However, when he is not hunting, his guns are locked in a gun safe and hidden away. Also, his guns don’t shoot 50, 60 or even more bullets with the pull of a trigger! If he shoots a duck, it is with one bullet. Do I advocate taking all his guns away? Do I want to have a gun-free country? Well, actually I wouldn’t mind that, but I am smart enough to know that this will never happen. But I do believe, with all my heart, that assault weapons should be banned and every single one taken away and destroyed. I also believe that a bullet is one thing but a bullet that is made to explode on impact, rip through bullet proof vests, and anything other than to be shot one at a time, is unacceptable. We must join the rest of the civilized world and protect our citizens by banning weapons of mass killing capabilities.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that along with gun control we, as a nation, must figure out how to provide ongoing care for those who suffer from various forms of mental illness. I don’t think that our services have ever been good, but since the hospitals designed to care for the mentally ill were close by President Reagan, things have gotten progressively worse. We cannot allow those with mental illnesses to go untreated. Not for them and certainly not for society. If we consider ourselves a compassionate people, then we must provide for all our citizens.
When people discuss the Constitution and how it guarantees the freedom to have weapons to defend hearth and home, do you know what it actually meant? Well, they meant that each household and householder could have a weapon, probably a musket or rifle that had to be loaded by putting black powder down the barrel, dropping in a musket ball and piece of linen, to defend their home from the British! No way did our founding fathers even fantasize that in the year 2012 we would have weapons that would be used to kill 20 first graders and 6 of their teachers in a few seconds! Their idea of allowing the citizenry to have weapons was to defend their families from the invading British! This is a leap that we no longer understand nor adhere to.
The hideous debacle at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown is now history, but let us not file it away as over and done with. Let us resolve to make sure that those little children and their families and the teachers and their families did not die in vain. Let us remain resolved to change the world that we live in, today. Let us make sure that all of our children not only feel safe but are safe wherever they are, be it in school, church or even at home. Isn’t that the least we can do?
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