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ANOTHER MASS SHOOTING
And another. And another. And another. And another. And another. And . . .
More mass shootings have occurred in the US in 2023 than the number of days so far. Let that sink in before asking if mass shootings have become normalized. Yes they have. Now of course, the division-hacks of either side love to pin it on unhinged white supremacists or homicidal deranged transgenders. And sadly, both have been correct. But let’s just get real and solve this from the ground up.
In the wake of the Farmington New Mexico mass shooting, this whole mess hit me hard. I was just back in Farmington last September, for the 40th reunion of Farmington High School’s graduating class of 1982. I lived in Farmington (2023 pop. appx 50K - 1972 pop. appx 25K) off and on between the years of 1972 and 1987. I am the man I am because of Farmington. I’ve returned to Farmington three times: 1992, 2007, & 2022.
A few years before that, in Aztec NM, a school shooting in a town of 6500 people claimed the lives of two students at the high school. I attended Aztec High School too. In 1980, I was a sophomore roaming the same halls and using the same bathroom that the killer roamed and used nearly 40 years later.
I told the story of my travels back in time in a series of posts I wrote while on the road. I spent a total of nine days riding solo for about 1500 miles. I wrote about shootings then. And I’m writing about shootings again. I have some thoughts about guns and kids and shootings. Here is a source website that I am using to lay out the facts. It’s really gruesome.
Like a hammer or chef knife
A gun is a tool. Just like a hammer or a knife or a truck. Each of these tools are capable of killing a human being. The only common denominator among them is the causative factor: a human being. Whether by homicide or suicide, each of these tools kills only when used to do so by a human being.
I first held a gun in my hands when I was 7 or 8 years old. The sense of power and authority was instant and visceral. It was heavy but seemed to lift itself when aimed. Resting but ready in its leather holster on your hip, it exudes strength. Even now, writing about that moment, I still get goose-bumps. A gun is power. Raw brute force.
My dad was what one would call a gun collector. One could call him many things, gun collector was about the nicest. The gun I first held was an old Colt 45 Revolver that looked a lot like this.
The very first thing I learned about guns was how to clear the chamber and then how to properly clean and store them. My dad was always at the fringes of law enforcement, first as an EMT and then an investigator, and finally as a firefighter in Farmington. He probably owned over a dozen guns at that time. He was also obsessive-compulsive. About most things - good and bad. That obsessiveness was a very good thing about guns.
While we lived in the city of Farmington for a few years, it wasn’t until moving to Flora Vista (pop. appx 1500) and lived on a 5-acre hog farm that the necessity of guns was made clear to me. On my 10-birthday, in addition to my dad buying a Coors Beer birthday cake - for a 10 year old - I got my first gun - a Browning 20-guage shotgun. It looked like this one.
I was 11-years-old the first time I shot and killed another living being. Two beings actually. I shot the two pigs I had raised over the summer. They were being sold for meat. That day we probably slaughtered a half-dozen or more hogs.
I tell the story of the old cowboy pulling me aside to tell me the secret of killing things: don’t give your meat a name. Of course we turned that around and named our meat: Bacon, Pork Chop, and T-Bone were as delicious as their names imply.
Perhaps the most anticipated class for a 10-year-old with a gun is The Hunter Safety Course. The first Monday in November was a state holiday - the first day of hunting season. FFA and 4-H Clubs offered gun-safety classes and shooting competitions. Public schools advocated for gun safety by supporting those organizations.
The entire time I lived in Flora Vista, none of the dozens of kids on my road, on the school bus, and amongst all of the clubs, ever had a gun accident. During the inevitable personal conflicts that arise between teenage boys none of us ever resorted to gun violence.
We resorted to violence. Actually, violence was a default for many. We punched each other, we sabotaged each others, we punked each other. But the line was always drawn: guns do not settle scores. I believe it’s because we all knew intimately the result of gunfire. We had all shot animals, hunted or raised. Guns kill when the trigger is pulled. Period.
That’s my solution to this madness. Mandatory gun safety classes for all students in America. Starting in first-grade. Look at the ways we play with toys. We buy our kids pretend kitchens with knives. We give them pretend construction sets with hammers. And for guns? Just the guns. No play-toys around gun-safety culture. No “Gun-Range Target Shooting” games?
But then again, we can repurpose anything for an imaginary gun. When we imagine guns, we lose the real thing. There’s no attachment or imprint to our reality. A gun is a figment, a projection, a
Well, let’s search . . .
The top spot is a book comparing lethal objects to each other, and providing safety instructions. Check out the author.
After that is a gun-safety link from the NRA. This should be interesting.
Gun Safety is only for 18-year-olds. Hmmm. Once past the “gate” that is easily subverted, we land on this page
This is the crux of my argument, made by the much-maligned and very-vilified National Rifle Association. Just think about it logically for a minute. Their livelihood depends on gun-owners paying subscription fees. It’s their money pipeline. If their goal was to use guns to kill everyone, that would shoot their whole business model to hell. Pun intended.
We encourage you as a responsible parent and citizen to reinforce these ideas by repeating this message and discussing it with your child. According to federal statistics, there are guns in approximately 40% of all U.S. households. Even if you do not have a firearm in your home, chances are that someone you know does. Your child could come in contact with a gun at a neighbor's house, when playing with friends, or under other circumstances outside of your control. We encourage you as a responsible parent and citizen today to...
Make sure all firearms cannot be reached by anyone who should not have access to them without your consent. Store guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons, especially children.
Keep ammunition securely stored where a child or any other unauthorized person cannot reach it.
Talk to your child about guns, and gun safety. By removing the mystery surrounding guns, your child will be far less curious about guns, and more likely to follow safety rules.
Make sure your child understands the difference between a toy gun and a real gun, and the difference between "pretend" and real life.
In a home where guns are kept, the degree of safety a child has rests squarely on the parents and gun owner.
Bullet Point #3 is the most important, and the one we need to put on hyper-drive. Much like when asked where meat comes from (the package), the mystery and allure of guns is left to pretend and pop-culture to illustrate.
We have to start somewhere. Over 465 million guns in America. We can’t take them all away and thoughts and prayers are just that. It’s vitally important that we know the facts. Here are a bunch.
Guns are not going away. They may become obsolete in the face of some new technology. But even the Terminator used a gun. Let’s just be smart as we can about guns, gun safety, and kids.
Be safe and be well,