Friday, December 21, 2012

And So This Is Christmas

It certainly is a strange Christmas season. Scout decorated the house outside with lights but we haven't done a thing inside. Not anything. Scout has some little mice Moma helped him make pinned to a egg carton. Moma's the crafty one who has always encouraged my son's creative side. We haven't even gotten our little Christmas tree out to put them on. I've been sick for a couple of weeks and haven't felt like doing anything.

It's very hard to get into the spirit of Christmas and the joy of the season after the tragedy at Shady Hook in Newtown, Connecticut last week. It brings home the importance of loving your children and family, and holding them close, and telling them you love them because, for some people, it may be the last chance you get to tell them. It only takes one selfish person with a gun, or one driver who is out of control, to turn your life upside down. 

It has been so painful to hear about the lives of the women and children lost in this senseless tragedy that I have avoided listening to the news as much as possible. I still get plenty of information anyway. I am sick of the tragedies that happen across this country because of the lack of gun control. I am tired of the murders of innocent people who are gunned down because some deranged gunman decides to exact revenge against people who have done them no harm. 

We need to do more to make sure that mentally ill people have access to mental healthcare before they decide to do something awful. It's too late after the fact. I read that Ronald Reagan cut back mental health funding in the '80's and that is why there aren't enough programs in place for people to turn to when they have a friend or relative who is exhibiting antisocial behavior. 

It's ironic that Reagan would cut funding to mental health in light of the fact that in 1981 he was targeted by a mentally ill gunman who tried to kill him. He and James Brady, Reagan's press secretary, were shot during the attack, Brady critically. In 1993 President Clinton signed the Brady Handgun Violence Act which required a background check by the FBI before purchasing handguns. The Brady Act expired in 2004 and, because of strong lobbying of the National Rifle Association it has never been revised again. The lobbyists have too much control over Senators and Congressmen to ever allow it to see the light of day.

In light of the slaughter of 20 little kids, you'd think that everybody would be in favor of more control of assault weapons. Instead, I have read people defending the weapons, and all guns, since the terrorist attack at Sandy Hook School. 

I've decided to call them what they are, terrorists. They may be insane. They may be desperate. But they are still terrorists. The country is being terrorized by evil people with guns. When is it going to stop? How are we going to stop it? How many more lives are going to have to be lost in deadly rampages before the American people rise up and demand change?

The Mayan calendar predicted a new era. Many people predicted the end of the world. I enjoyed playing along with the fantasy but, like everything that is hyped, it proved to be a bust and the world is still here. Thank God. Maybe the new era can be a time for change and growth. Maybe the new era marked by the Mayan calendar will usher in a new age of peace and compassion for our fellow man. Maybe, just maybe, people will wake up and start caring more about people than their precious right to own a gun.

I'm not anti-gun. I don't believe the government needs to confiscate every weapon in the country. Someday I want to buy a titanium handgun. I saw one years ago and really liked it. But that still doesn't absolve the testosterone driven ego that thinks being a man means having a bigger and more powerful gun than everybody else. No man needs, or should have an assault weapon. If you want to get your kicks with high powered weapons why don't you man up and join the army? Or, if you can't handle that, why don't you apply to the police academy and become a police officer? Channel that he-man drive to wield a weapon in a productive way.

The Second Amendment states: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."    

I'd say the closest thing we have to "a well regulated Militia" is the National Guard which is supposed to protect America from within her borders. It implies that the Militia must be "well regulated". That, to me, sounds like they have to have regular meetings and exercises designed to respond to any threat the State may encounter. I've never seen a bunch of men get together and practice military skills in my neighborhood. Have you? I've never seen people get together as civilians and use their weapons to prepare for invaders. Have you?

The right to have a weapon has long been established in this country. When I was growing up boys would go squirrel hunting with shotguns. Nobody thought a thing about it. They had relatives who taught them gun safety and how to hunt, but there weren't any bloody attacks on people during that age.

It is a different world today. Most men have never touched a gun, much less own one. They wouldn't even dream of hunting. I'm not discounting the men who hunt. I'm just saying most men today don't hunt. They don't use guns. The world has changed. 

Hunting doesn't bother me. Hunting and killing people, does.

My father and grandfather used to hunt. They owned shotguns and rifles. Nobody I know owns an assault weapon though. There is a difference. If you are a real hunter, you don't need an AR15 or any other weapon that holds thirty rounds. You certainly don't belong in the woods with a weapon like that. 

I hope the tragedy in Sandy Hook was not in vain. I hope the people will demand the Brady Act be reinstated so that everyone has to go through personal background checks. I hope gun manufacturers feel the pressure of their customers and the government and they quit making and selling the macho-man guns that have turned up in so many tragic shootings. I hope we wake up before it is too late. Sadly, it is too late for too many people.

In closing I'd like to say, I have met many people in my life and honestly, I wouldn't want most of them to have a gun. People are not as bright as they think they are. They certainly don't need to be armed and dangerous.

Maybe God will give us reason this holiday season. I sure hope so.


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