National Gun Violence Awareness Day was observed earlier this month. How can we not be constantly aware of the senseless killings that occur in the United States daily without being reminded by a special day?
Earlier this month, a U.S. congressman and three other people were shot during practice for the annual baseball game between Republican and Democratic lawmakers.
Meanwhile, on the same day, in Indiana, a father was demonstrating to his two young sons how to safely handle a pistol.
When his 9-year-old daughter walked into the room, the father playfully pointed the gun at her head and pulled the trigger, killing her instantly.
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He explained that he had unloaded the gun earlier but had forgotten that he had reloaded it. Talk about Hell on earth!
Guns! Guns! And more guns! In the wake of increased violence, a fever of fear understandably is sweeping our culture. So is the citizenry’s passion to protect itself with firearms.
According to legend, Herbert Hoover, campaigning for president in the 1920s, promised voters a chicken in every pot . Some gun-ho legislators would like a gun in every pocket. One proposal would lower the age for owning and carrying a gun from 21 to 18. Imagine the following scenario:
Freddie is rushing off to school.
“Mom, do you know where my Beretta is? I can’t find my Beretta!” the just-turned-18 says in panic.
“The last time I saw your Beretta, it was on your bedside table. Have you looked under the bed? You’d better find it. You’ve already lost one Beretta, and your father is certainly not buying you another!”
Gun-ho gun advocates might argue these reasons for reducing gun regulations:
The resulting increased sales would boost the economy. Guns would make great birthday gifts and stocking-stuffers for those hard-to-please teenagers.
Also, there would be a demand for shooting ranges. Our schools could add target practice as a high school elective.
There could be inter-school competition with a state championship shoot-off. What about marksmanship scholarships at Carolina, State, Duke, etc.?
Of course there are negatives to arming teenagers.
Those with explosive tempers might settle arguments with their peers by reaching for their Berettas instead of resolving their differences with their fists.
A motorist of any age, enraged by another motorist’s driving, instead of mouthing curses or honking horns, might grab the pistol on the seat beside him and shoot the other driver.
Also, teens are not noted for their orderliness, and one might leave a loaded firearm within reach of a younger sibling, launching a lifetime of grief for the entire family.
If our culture is determined to make gun ownership as universal as cell-phone ownership, the least the state can do is tighten, not weaken, safety requirements for purchasing and carrying a firearm.
Poet Robert Frost wrote:
I’m going out to clean the pasture spring;
I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I shan’t be gone long. –You come too.
Well, I’m going out to clean the front lawn bird box after the bluebirds’ second fledging.
In all my years of birdwatching, I’ve never encountered such poor housekeeping. Apparently, the five wee ones were never potty-trained. Yet there the couple sits impatiently on the birdhouse, waiting for me to get busy with wire brush and water so that they can get on with their third family.
Of such is the plight of landlords.
Profiles in courage
We dropped by the Cameron Village K&W Cafeteria for lunch only to find in line ahead of us 100 fourth-graders from Mocksville Elementary School. They, their teachers and several parent-chaperones had come to Raleigh to sample our state’s history and culture. Visits were scheduled to the Art and History Museums, the state Capitol and the governor’s mansion.
Talk about profiles in courage! Imagine riding herd on 100 bundles of energy, curiosity, mischief and diverse personalities for a full day out of the classroom.
We can never adequately pay these patient, caring missionaries of learning.
Also, imagine waiting patiently in line while 100 kids made up their minds on which dessert they preferred from the many assorted offerings.
When I remarked to one of the teachers how well-behaved the youngsters were, she managed a half-smile and said grimly, “They’d better be!”