On December 14, 2013 a gunman killed twenty-six human beings; twenty-four of them were children attending their elementary school which was supposed to be a safe haven from the outside world’s craziness. At the time the country was in shock and expressed outrage; promises were made that there would be reasonable changes to the gun laws to help prevent future violence. That was then. Today, nearly eleven months later, the issue has disappeared from the public’s radar. Parents of the slain victims carry on gallantly, but mostly to deaf ears of the cowardly members of Congress. Citizens blog, tweet and post about this travesty of justice, but very few will convert such sentiments to their vote on upcoming election days.
I served in the military as an infantryman. I learned to fire all sorts of weapons and coincidentally on the day my son was born in 1968 in upstate New York, I was on a firing range in Korea receiving an expert shooters certificate. As soon as I returned stateside, I never fired another weapon again. Neither guns nor rifles were of interest to me because everyone I knew who owned a firearm, used it to kill something in nature. Not my idea of fun.
In 1994, my mother died and as I was going through her personal belongings, I discovered a hidden gun in the top drawer of a dresser. It was, as I learned later a “Saturday Night Special” and the ammunition was put in a drawer below. She never told me she owned a gun, and I can’t imagine this 85 year old, five foot one, mild mannered woman ever being capable of shooting it, but there it was. I took the gun and ammunition to the local police headquarters in my hometown and explained the situation and asked if I could turn everything in with the expressed wish that both the gun and ammunition be destroyed and I was assured by the police that it would be done. Some years passed and one day I received a telephone call from a police officer from the same police force asking me permission to use the weapon I had turned in years ago, as a personal back-up weapon for this officer, with the promise it would never be used unless absolutely necessary. After a moments hesitation, I did give my persmission to the officer because, except in the rare incidents when I get pulled over for speeding, I have the utmost respect for the men and women who put themselves in harms way everyday protecting citizenry. I do not know why the police kept this gun so long, but I liked the fact that I was called and asked permission to continue the gun’s existence. Sometimes I wonder what became of the officer and my mother’s gun, but I will never know and I am certainly fine with that fact.
It is my fervent hope that someday gun violence can somehow be dramatically reduced, but I don’t think it will happen any time soon. Good luck to us all never to be in the wrong place at the wrong time confronted by someone determined to do great harm.
The following is a picture that most resembles what my mother’s gun looked like: