Silence Is Deadly

When I first moved to my present home in 2005 I was eager to meet my new neighbors, but I was still working and I had a great deal of work to do just unpacking things whenever I had a free moment. It was a couple of weeks before I saw the woman next door in her yard, so I walked over to introduce myself. She was quite friendly and invited me inside her home. 

After offering me something to drink she gave me a brief history of the neighborhood and the people in it. Then she took me on a tour of her house. When we got upstairs I saw a teenager sitting on his bed literally caressing an AR-15 as though it was a beloved pet. I suppose his mother noticed my confused expression because she quickly laughed and explained that it was her son’s birthday and the gun was his present. She went on to tell me that he had wanted the weapon for some time, but she and her family had decided to wait until they felt he was old enough to use it properly. I stood mutely attempting to think of a way to leave quickly and feeling a strange sick sensation upon seeing the boy so enchanted with his new toy. 

Not long after that the people next door put a for sale sign in their front yard and I have to admit that I was elated that they were leaving. My teacher radar had gone into overdrive after seeing the young man so enchanted with his powerful gun. Somehow I felt less safe knowing he was so close to my home. 

My husband was a target shooter for a time. He has guns that he inherited from his grandfather and uncles, historical pieces that they once used for hunting. He has never taken to the sport of killing animals, but he liked target shooting and often went to a local range where he actually entered contests and won several awards for his precision. That’s about the extent of his relationship with guns. 

He told me that the rules at the range regarding AR-15s were quite strict. Anyone bringing one to practice had to keep it encased until actually at the stall and nobody could have more than one round of ammunition in the gun. It had to be loaded with a single bullet for each shot. The owners of the range were well known and highly respected for their adherence to safety and for the most part they discouraged customers with the high powered rifles from coming to their place of business. 

My husband knows a great deal about guns and he has often told me that the rationale for owning an AR-15 eludes him. He pointed out that it is generally a terrible weapon for hunters because of the severe damage that it does to the organs of the animals. He finds it ludicrous that anyone aside from soldiers and police officers would ever own one, especially a teenager. He has long insisted that these weapons should not be available to the general public. He points out that when the Founding Fathers inserted the second Amendment  as an addition to the Constitution there was still not a powerful army in the United States as there were in Great Britain. Every man was part of the nation’s defense as members of the militia, Their weapons were single shot muskets. He doubts seriously that the Founders envisioned a nation of three hundred million people owning four hundred million guns, some of which are so powerful that they can do irreparable harm in a matter of seconds. As a responsible and reasonable gun owner he believes that AR-15s should be banned. 

Those who own such weapons defend their right to own them insisting that the second amendment favors them. In surveys they provide reasons for owning such a weapon to include protecting themselves, for hunting, for target shooting, and because they are fun and easy to shoot. They assert their rights to any kind of gun in the context of the second  amendment. They are such a powerful lobbying group that even when law officers insist that there is danger in having such weapons in the hands of ordinary citizens, the common sense of such arguments is generally ignored. 

In our hearts we all know that there are many reasons that mass shooters continue to wreak terror in our country. Certainly mental illness is a huge factor, but we never really do much to improve the care of those who are sick. We can turn our schools into fortresses and arm ourselves to the teeth, but in the end we know that it is the easy availability of high powered guns that is at the heart of the problem. Other countries with stricter gun laws are not seeing the carnage at the same rate that we have in the United States. 

We claim to be concerned about our children, even those that are unborn, but we have yet to adequately protect them. Arming ourselves to the teeth is not the way to insure a more stable society. Our schools should not have to become armed fortresses. We should not be teaching our children that selfishly clinging to our guns is some kind of human right. Those of us who understand such things have to speak out, make our voices heard. Violence only creates more violence. 

We have lawmakers shielding our children from books about Ruby Bridges and segregation because reading them might make them feel bad. They go to great lengths to protect the unborn, but balk at strict measures to control the sale and use of dangerous weapons. In my state people don’t need a permit or any kind of training to walk around carrying a gun in public. How are we supposed to know the good guys from the bad ones if we see someone with a pistol in full view while we shop for groceries? The absurdity of the situation needs no words.

I don’t want to have to rant about the deaths of innocent people anymore, but I believe that silence from those of us who want gun reform is deadly. I am tired of platitudes and promises and more and more fortification of public spaces and homes. I find the American fetish for guns to be disturbing. When I see Christmas cards with little children holding guns while standing next to a holiday tree I literally want to cry and scream at the same time. I wonder when we became so selfish and uncaring that we have created such a dangerous situation. I do think of those who have been harmed and I pray for them and for our country all of the time. I know that I must do more. I will continue to speak out until we finally come to our senses. I don’t know when that will be. I hope I live to see that day.


One thought on “Silence Is Deadly

  1. Thanks for this post, It is very well said, and I fully agree. Too bad that a political party is so dependent on the gun lobby that they actually promote such killing machines and will not even talk about doing something about the problem. It takes a warped mind not to see and understand this. When a Christmas card from a politician shows his whole family holding such guns, it would take a fool to vote for him~! Yet they know that it promotes votes from the mentally sick.


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