Open Forum: If reason were the standard
Posted: January 20, 2013
I am not a hunter or sportsman, nor a collector or user of firearms.
I am a mother.
I am a mother who is relieved that her child is past the age of public school, so he is neither in the line of fire of automatic weapons, nor is he subject to school lockdowns and the normalization of armed personnel stationed at the door. I am glad that I don’t have to explain to a child why elementary school is a potentially lethal place. I am glad that when he got on the school bus each day, I had only to be concerned whether his teachers were effective educators without wondering if they’re also a good shot.
But I remain concerned about a world in which gun violence is not limited to schools, but also spreads to malls and movie theaters and houses of worship, and more than a couple of college campuses.
Just this week there were two school shootings in America. Maybe because the death toll in each was merely in single digits, they failed to make front-page headlines. Recent carnage has set the bar pretty high when it comes to making news by killing children.
There was a uniformed resource officer at my son’s elementary school during his years there. He was Winchester Sgt. Rick Timbrook, whose bronze visage now stares from the municipal building that houses our police department and bears his name. A victim of gun violence himself, Timbrook was shot by a man who bought a firearm on a dead-end street after dark. Because the shooter was not a citizen of the United States, he was not entitled to have one at all.
Legal or not, guns are easy to get in America. And about half the time, even the more valid methods don’t require a background check of the buyer.
I am also a homemaker. When my hunter friends bring me venison, I convert it to slow-cooked roasts and stews to feed my family. Thinning the deer herd is a responsible use of firearms, and provides legitimate recreation. Similarly, skeet and target shooting are activities that can be honestly enjoyed. And if it were reasonable to reduce our overpopulation of geese through marksmanship, it would be an option to explore.
If reason were the standard, the American conversation on guns would be brief and consensual. Reason tells us not to accept a continued open market for assault weapons with massive magazine capacity. Reason tells us that when it’s possible to avoid a background check by buying guns on the secondary market, that is what nefarious sorts will do. Reason tells us that you don’t reduce violence by creating an escalating arms race in the public arena.
We should not become inured to mass shootings. Guns may be as American as Apple Pie, but we are also the Home of the Free. And there is no freedom when living in lockdown and fear.
Maggie Wolff Peterson is a resident of Winchester.