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While the world was dealing with Newtown, Conecticut; my family was planning a funeral for my husband's mother. It's one thing to deal with a death that you are expecting and hoping to put off for awhile longer and quite another to deal with sudden, senseless deaths - 27 times over.

I grew up around guns. Our neighbors had them. My family owned them. My father, uncles and brothers used them. We owned BB and pellet guns. We used other people's guns. We went target practicing. We lived on a vineyard in the summers and the farmer had an automated shot gun system that set off rounds regularly to scare varmints away from the ripening grapes.

Guns were visible in the homes I visited as a child. I knew not to handle a gun without supervision. I was given target practice lessons in both guns and arrows as a child. I could hit what I aimed at, but I never was spectacular at shooting.

The one prevailing lesson impressed upon me was that there are rules when it comes to handling guns, and if there is a rule you NEVER break; it's the rules regarding guns.  

Domestic Violence

I could take or leave guns up until I decided I would divorce my first husband. My first husband was a man who was chased by a lot of mental demons that he refused to deal with in an effective way. He was charming while we dated and was careful to avoid being with me when he became morose, angry and out of control. After our wedding, he let his true nature out. He was drunk a lot of the time. He got mean when he drank too much. We also owned guns. I also found out that the rules regarding guns that were taught to me that were to be followed as faithfully as any Sunday School lesson are not universally held by all gun owners.

After one very scary night that could make for compelling reading for you, but really doesn't have much to do with this diary; I decided I could leave guns. In fact, I'm pretty convinced that unresolved/undealt with mental problems, guns and alcohol are a deadly mix. Guns and alcohol without the mental problems are a deadly mix.  I found out that people under the influence break gun rules and don't care if anyone around them is upset about the fact that they are breaking gun rules.

Although, our divorce wasn't solely over alcohol and guns; the fact that I never could sleep easy in a shared house with him did majorly impact my decision to leave the marriage. Guns were not necessary for my protection and could be a major factor to the detriment of my health had I remained living in that house. I learned a new gun lesson - guns escalate domestic violence.

Gun Accidents

Some years later, I was talking with a friend and the conversation turned toward guns. Her story was pretty horrific. Again, she's from a family that used and owned guns. She recounted the tale of one night when her brother was entertaining some friends and showing off his gun and was demonstrating how it had to be loaded before it could hurt anybody and unintentionally killed himself. Again, the details of the story aren't as important as the result. There was no alcohol involved. Just stupidity and a disregard for gun handling rules. You know, the ones where you are taught to NEVER point the gun toward you or anyone else, NEVER look down the barrel of a gun and the one that says you NEVER pull the trigger when your gun is pointed toward you or anyone else while handling the gun for cleaning, demonstrating, loading or unloading. I learned a new gun lesson - sometimes people don't follow the rules and die for it.

Gun Deaths Since Sandy Hook

The Huffington Post's The Price of Freedom is a story out today with pictures of people killed with guns since Sandy Hook. It's horrifying. HuffPo counts 1,280 deaths while The Slate includes police shootings as well and the number rises to over 1500. Huff Po gives us faces of those we've lost to gun violence since Sandy Hook.

 photo r-GUN-DEATHS-SANDY-HOOK-huge.jpg

Who Do We Trust With Guns?

I know I have no need to have a gun around the house. I have, upon occasion, handled a gun and used one at a gun range, but I don't own a gun. My neighbor disagrees and has guns. My brother has a job that requires him to have both a gun and a concealed carry permit. While visiting him over the holidays, I never saw his gun. Didn't need to. It was in the gun safe and only he had the ability to get it out of the safe. I wasn't worried about the gun in this home. I even repaired his concealed carry vest while I was there.

What was troubling however was his neighbors across the road who got new shotguns for Christmas. They were only too delighted to use them in their back lot for target practice all Christmas day and the days after while we were there. I was comfortable with my brother's gun handling, but I wasn't sure about his neighbor. My brother assured me that he looked into his neighbor's "gun range". It points down hill into a grassy dip behind the house. The target is straw backed and meant to absorb the rounds. (I don't like outdoor gun ranges, but in a rural area, they are the norm.) They don't drink until the guns are put away in a gun safe my brother installed for them. It's one thing to trust someone you've known for years, it's another to trust someone you've never met.

That's where my concerns currently lie. Trust. I can't verify my trust in people who own guns. Guns don't scare me as much as a jackass holding a loaded gun scares me. I get chills (not the good kind) when a gun novice picks up a gun.

I have a friend who works in compliance. He has a stock in trade phrase: "People, we need to govern ourselves appropriately, because if we don't; the government will come in and govern for us." Are we there yet? I don't know. You'd think the death of 20 kids who simply went to school would be enough of a catalyst to bring about some sensible gun regulation. I guess the debate centers around what sensible gun regulation means.

What Do We Know?

Studies show one thing. Other studies show sobering facts.  It seems that I'm reading story after story of gun violence. It's stories of people with guns who don't handle or clean them safely, or store them properly, or it's a story of someone who should know better, but decides to handle the gun improperly anyway. Sometimes it's a curious kid who dies for their curiosity. Too few of the stories are about someone defending themselves. Too few of the stories have happy endings. Too many are tragic stories.

Gun Regulation and Safety

I'm ambivalent. Will gun regulations prevent criminal acts? Not all. Will gun regulation protect against stupid? Maybe, usually not. Can we identify those who are mentally ill in time to prevent a gun violence tragedy? It's possible, but I'm also in favor of finding ways to prevent the mentally ill from becoming victims of violent crime too. One thing is certain, the status quo for gun laws is killing far too many people far too often. I get the 2nd Amendment, but we need to comprehend the idea that our grass roots militia is not well regulated. If it were, we'd have fewer senseless gun deaths. Surely we can do a better job of protecting ourselves against gun violence. I don't see why we can't close the background check loophole. I don't see why we can't outlaw high capacity clips. I don't see why we can't mandate standards for gun storage and handling. I'm also aware that others see these few items as onerous. The question is how to balance our rights with public safety. We can do a better job.

I can't find the right note to end this diary. I have no quip. Snark is inappropriate. Wittiness in the face of all these tragic deaths is callous and uncalled for. WE need these deaths to end. We need to end gun violence. Really, we do.

Originally posted to JDWolverton on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 04:55 PM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA and Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA).

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (20+ / 0-)

    I'm still ambivalent. I want these deaths to end. Something has to give.

    If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never has and never will be. Thomas Jefferson

    by JDWolverton on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 04:55:08 PM PST

  •  Thoughtful diary. Thanks. (10+ / 0-)

    I too grew up  around guns and currently own a few for hunting.  I guess I share your ambivalence.  I agree with limits on magazine capacity and on many of the gun safety ideas in the AWB and proposed by President Obama.

    Its time to be forward-leaning on this.  

  •  I am similarly ambivalent toward guns but (5+ / 0-)

    I do have them specifically for self defense because of what's happening to my neighborhood and also because of a number of life experiences that I described in a recent diary. Here's an excerpt involving my mom who died in bed at 83 without having killed anybody with a gun but who might well not have lived so long had she not had a gun:


    One night mother, after locking up a restaurant she managed, was followed by a man as she walked to her car in an empty shopping mall parking lot. There was no one else in the vast lot within sight or shouting distance. She slipped her hand into her purse wherein she carried a pistol, turned to face the man, now just a few yards away. He stopped in his tracks, assessed the situation for a moment and then turned and walked away. She told me that she’d let him see his tombstone in her eyes. Adding to the tension of this event was the fact that a serial killer of women was then active in the area. She reported the incident and gave a description of the man to the police.

       On another occasion she fired a gun through our front door narrowly missing my biological father's head as in contravention of a restraining order he was attempting to break in with, one can safely assume, violent intent. That was over sixty years ago yet the memory remains vivid and troubling.

    The frog jumped/ into the old pond/ plop! (Basho)

    by Wolf10 on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 05:18:12 PM PST

  •  Thank you (4+ / 0-)

    "Goodnight, thank you, and may your God go with you"

    by TheFern on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 05:55:08 PM PST

  •  I'm NOT ambivalent on guns. I want them (13+ / 0-)


    I grew up with a daddy, and brothers that hunted and brought game to be cooked at the table.  As a child I knew what it was like to hold the rabbit's legs while my daddy skinned and gutted the rabbit.  It stunk to high heaven. One reason that as a child I refused to eat the rabbit or squirrel fried, barbecued, or in a pie.  I just couldn't imagine eating those animals.  I don't begrudge those whose taste if food differs from mine.

    Times are different.  My daddy and brothers had rifles for hunting game that was brought to the table to eat for a meal.  They did not have weapons that could annihilate and entire first grade class room of kids.

    Today, some gun owners want to have guns designed for one purpose; to kill other human beings quickly and efficiently as possible.  It matters not whether they intend to use them as weapons of mass destruction or not.  They can be used for this purpose and as such, should be taken off the market and made illegal.

    This is unacceptable in a civil society.  

    •  We can do better (5+ / 0-)

      It's not the responsible gun owners I object to. It's the irresponsible ones.

      If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never has and never will be. Thomas Jefferson

      by JDWolverton on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 06:38:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly, and since we cannot know who will be (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JDWolverton, kmfmstar, Oh Mary Oh

        irresponsible (and hurt someone or leave a firearm where someone might get their hands on it and hurt themselves/others) we have to have the same rules for everyone. Sure some will still do stupid things and hurt themselves/others, but reasonable regulations will save some lives (I doubt that even if we passed very strong regulations we would cut the carnage in half, but half is better than what we have now).

        I am ambivalent about the oxymoron of "gun accidents" happening to responsible gun owners.  An accident would be having the bullets explode or something like that (this is why all industrialized countries require that guns and ammo be stored separately), but shooting oneself/someone else cleaning or handling a gun is negligence.  Having a gun go off in a purse/pocket (why wasn't the freaking safety on?) is negligence. When a father and a police chief allow an 8 year old boy to shoot an Uzi that recoils and shoots/kills the boy it is not an accident, it is negligence.

        Then they came for me - and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.

        by DefendOurConstitution on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 08:36:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I can tell pretty quickly (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Have you spent much time around gun owners?

          If so, listen for why they own what they own them.  I spoke with a man while waiting at a rifle range for a lane to become available and he managed to punch the this is a worse than mild crazy case.  I spoke with another man that was convinced that society would fall apart.  I tried to steer things back to more reasonable risk management scenarios, gave up and went about my day.  I have also spoken with people who did not think quiet clearly and I wouldn't want them to own firearms.  

          Observe their gun handleing skills.  I have a friend that needed a few clue-by-fourings to understand the importance of the 4 rules.  Now that he understands, its safe to go to a rifle range with him.  Did they take a safety class?  These are not 100% predictors but are close enough.  

          Otherwise you are looking at trying to achieve absolute safety which does not exist.  Its the same fallacy that we can be 100% safe that got us the excesses on the so-called war to terror.  

          Under capitalism man exploits man, under communism the roles are reversed.

          by DavidMS on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 11:03:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  A 3 yr old child (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JDWolverton, Oh Mary Oh

      was killed in my small town in November.  He "shot himself in the head" at 3 a.m.  Locals say daddy is a drug dealer.  Cops allowed him to turn himself in, altho it took until January 24 for him to do so.  Then he was "released on his own recognizance".  

      A three yr old.  Picking up a semiautomatic handgun and "shooting himself in the head".  A single gunshot to the head is how he died.  THINK ABOUT THIS.  Am I the only person who believes this story is complete and utter bullshit???

      People commit murder; but I guess since they do it despite the law, we should just let make it legal.  Thats what this no-holds-barred-let-anyone-buy-a-killing-machine-with-unlimited-rounds sounds like to me.  You said it, sixty.  There is no place for this in a civil society.  Period.

      Please sign and share.

  •  Guns are completely out of my realm (6+ / 0-)

    of experience so it's hard for me to understand the attraction.
    In fact, the older I become and the more I see how guns have poisoned our culture, the less tolerant I have become.

    I don't ever want to have a gun or to live with someone who owns a gun.  

    It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

    by Radiowalla on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 07:16:47 PM PST

  •  ever drive on a two lane road? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JDWolverton, Opinionated Ed

    do you have the same level of fear that someone is going to cross the lane and hit you head on?

    projection, if allowed, can be crippling.  I suggest you take a look at how you view life and come to a determination as to what risks you face on a daily basis and what poses a greater danger to you.

    I see a very beautiful planet that seems very inviting and peaceful. Unfortunately, it is not.…We're better than this. We must do better. Cmdr Scott Kelley

    by wretchedhive on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 10:52:42 PM PST

  •  Sane people vs sick people (0+ / 0-)

    Sane people with guns are not the problem, sick people with guns is the problem.

    Why are we mostly concentrating on gun control, when we should be focusing on the mental health aspect?

    Progressive, Independent, Unitarian, Vermonter.

    by Opinionated Ed on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 09:04:40 AM PST

    •  That's thorny too. (0+ / 0-)

      The people I know who own guns who shouldn't don't have problems that are definable under the statute. A drunk who's never had a DUI felony can still buy a gun. PTSD doesn't always mean they aren't safe to have a gun. (Some just cry like Boehner.)

      Mental issues are a problem for multiple problems, but denial should be listed first. Some family members like Ms. Lanza denied the seriousness of her son's illness to her death. The Aurora shooter's therapist started the process of intervention, but her governing board drug their feet.

      Then, there's the real concern that people with mental problems won't seek help, because if they do; they'll end up on a government list somewhere and will lose their basic civil rights.

      The mental health stigma is a real problem and until we think of mental illness the same way as we view MS, Lupus and the like; we're not likely to solve it.

      If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never has and never will be. Thomas Jefferson

      by JDWolverton on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 01:06:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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