The Farm Bleat: We know what's right, but when will we do something about it?
In late May, my mom and I traveled to Minnesota’s North Shore to “get away from it all” — my words, not hers. Had it been fully my choice, we would have stayed in a rustic cabin without a television or wi-fi. Instead, we stayed at our favorite inn with a great view of the Great Lake.
Mom had her television, and I had wi-fi and good cell phone reception in the event I was needed for a work emergency.
It was my first full week of vacation since becoming editor late last July, and I really did want to escape everything, listen to Lake Superior’s waves roll toward shore, soak up the sun, enjoy the peacefulness, and make progress on some needlework projects.
The first 40 hours were just about perfect, and then my mom slid open the patio door to tell me there’d been a school shooting in Texas and a lot of little kids were dead. The peace drained right out of me, and in its place came a heartache the size of which made me forget to take my next breath.
How many times does this have to happen in our country?
How many times do parents send their children off to school in the morning, wondering if they will see them at the end of the day?
How many times do we have to hear people say “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
Guns do kill people, both deliberately and accidentally, by people who are mentally ill, by people who absentmindedly bump the trigger and by people who are so desensitized to killing in video games, on television shows and in movies that they don’t grasp the finality of murder in real life.
How many people have to die — how many innocent children have to die — before this country enacts common sense gun legislation?
Now, before you start hurling names at me for my stance, let me tell you a few things.
I grew up in a family of hunters: father, grandfather, brothers, nephews and nieces. My nephew Reece competes this week in the trap shooting contest in Alexandria, and I wish him luck just as I did the kids at the Worthington Gun Club Monday afternoon. I’m glad they have a hobby they enjoy, and a sport that provides competition.
I’m just not fond of guns.
I was fairly young when I killed my first — and only — bird with a pellet gun on the farm. I realized I like animals too much to kill them, and yes, it turns out that includes pesky barn swallows.
I was in 10th grade when my cousin Chris committed suicide with a shotgun commonly used for deer hunting. The heartbreak our family experienced instilled a fear in me — not only a fear of what guns can do to people, but of the permanent ramifications that can happen in the blink of an eye; in the pull of a trigger.
So what can we do to reduce gun violence in this country?
Some may say it’s impossible. If someone is intent on killing, they’ll find a way to get a gun — legally or illegally.
Several ideas have come forward, including raising the legal age to purchase a gun from 18 to 21 in every state (this is already the law in Minnesota). I think that’s a good start. It won’t eliminate illegal access, but it’s something.
Bans on assault-style rifles have been suggested repeatedly. In my mind, a gun is a gun is a gun. Whether you can pull the trigger once and fire multiple rounds, or pull the trigger repeatedly, the outcome is the same — lots of people in a single space can be killed. Here is where some give and take will be needed among those who know guns best — the hunters, the sportsmen, the collectors. What limitations can you accept for the sake of preventing a single mass shooting in America?
Will a three-day waiting period stop someone intent on killing people? Maybe; maybe not. But we’ve seen what can happen when guns are sold without background checks. Isn’t it worth trying for the safety of others?
Passing meaningful legislation on gun ownership in this country will require all of us to make our opinions heard — even those opposed to any infringement on Second Amendment rights. If you support the right to own a gun, I have to believe you also support the right to life. I also have to believe you are just as sick and tired as I am of the senseless killings in this country.
I do wonder, though, even if we raise our voice, can it stand up to the powerful gun lobby that boosts the coffers of the very people we have elected to represent us?
America was built on compromise, and unfortunately, it seems we’ve lost our middle ground — our moral compass.
We need people in the legislature who are willing to stand up for what they know is right.
I cannot bear to hear yet another story of little children so shot apart that blood tests and a pair of green Converse sneakers are used to identify them.