As I watch the national debate over gun control, several thoughts come to mind.
At one time I owned a handgun. I purchased it in 1963 when I was in the Navy and sold it to a fellow officer a few years later who was leaving for Vietnam with one of our assault boats. I have a BB gun today that I, and my grandson, enjoy using to plink a few soda cans set up in the garage.
In January 2013, two of our grandchildren were in attendance at Taft High School when a student came onto campus and wounded a teacher and a fellow student. Both of our sons received text messages from their children, who were locked down inside the campus. Our sons joined hundreds of other parents that day outside the building waiting for information and the eventual release of their children. Both the teacher and the student survived the gunshot wounds.
As a news reporter covering Atascadero for more than 30 years, I covered two shooting incidents, both nonfatal, where children who had gotten hold of handguns ending up shooting another child. To this day I have not forgotten the cries of a young boy who thought he had killed his brother. He had not.
One of the saddest stories I’ve read in the past few days was carried in The Tribune last week telling of a boy, 11, who shot and killed an 8-year old neighborhood girl over an argument about a puppy.
The shootings at college campuses are spawning a growing number of malcontents who, for lack of a better explanation, want to go out in a blaze of glory. I applaud the effort of one law enforcement officer who refused to use the killer’s name, but I also recognize the need for the news media to report the facts.
It is a delicate balance walked by newsrooms everywhere.
I believe the violence of our TV shows and movies and video game shares the blame that causes an 11-year old child to shoot and kill his 8-year-old neighbor as a way to settle an argument.
I’ve always believed that people kill people, not guns. It is in the hands of a deranged person when a gun kills.
All these random thoughts lead me to believe that we need to address mental illness with earlier detection and treatment. We need elected officials who will stand up to the National Rifle Association and say in a united voice, “Enough is enough!”
We can no longer hide behind the “right to bear arms” mantra when so many are losing their lives by random shootings, people who have an unalienable right to be safe at home, at school and in the movie theater.
I have no problem with laws that make it even harder to obtain guns, especially assault rifles. We need to come down hard on those who sell guns to people not qualified to own them.