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Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Declaration of Belindapendence. (And no, you don't have to agree with me.)

One of my first memories is the killing of John F. Kennedy. Not long after, his brother Robert was killed. Not long after that, a friend of my parents accidently shot her husband when he came home from work late.

I've been aware of gun violence for a very long time. I grew up with guns. We killed our own pigs and cattle.

When I was little, I used to go target shooting and hunting with my dad and brother. When I was 12 years old I stopped because my brother went hiking and accidently shot himself in the stomach with his .22 handgun. He did not die, but his life was effectively destroyed. I will never forget seeing him sliced open from groin to chest, his incisions remaining open for days so they could continue to catch bleeds. I'll never forget the smell of his colostomy bag, or the horror of hearing his screams of pain from the bedroom next to mine. And I'll never get past being afraid of my brother when he ransacked my bedroom, looking for drugs to ease his pain. All that from a tiny .22 caliber bullet.

That was the year I realized just how dangerous guns are.

My father's father was an alcoholic. He never really liked me, I was the sole white-skinned, red-haired kid in the pack of dark grandchildren. Days after I gave birth to my red-headed daughter, he was stopped by the Sheriff for driving erratically. Grandpa was on his way to my house to shoot me. Yup, he had the loaded rifle in the front seat. It was an antique. The cop took it and let him go without charging him. Grandpa came over and crashed his car into my front yard. Then my grandmother called to warn me.
Gee, thanks, Grandma. The good thing was that we survived the car landing in the rosebushes. We wouldn't have survived being shot by an old Pearl Harbor vet.

Ronald Reagan. James Brady.

John Lennon. Oh my God. 



Ft. Hood.

Lana Clarkson

Mike. Self inflicted.
Michael. Suicide.
Jesse. Killed while trespassing. He killed the property owner right back.
The Dancing Man. A young, handsome mentally ill youth who was gunned down by the local police. His crime? He was dancing in the middle of the street and the officer felt "threatened."  
Varian. Went to prison as an accessory to murder when his friend gunned down another man. He was a world class musician and singer. He cried when he was sentenced, not out of self-pity, but out of guilt. He never touched the gun.

Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder. Hate crime. A well-loved couple in my community. Gunned down in their bed by the Williams Brothers...fundamentalist Christians who tipped into white supremacy. 

Gabby Giffords  

Judge John Roll Christina Taylor Green Gabe Zimmerman Phyllis Schneck
 Dorwin Stoddard Dorothy Morris

Here are some sobering statistics: There have been 54,830 people shot in the US this year. In the past 3 hours, 20 people have been shot. Wait...its now 24.'s 25.
Since 1995, there have been an average of 20 mass shootings in the US per year.

There are an average of 9,484 gun deaths in the US annually.

To compare, the country with the second highest annual rate of gun deaths is Canada, with 200.

As I can personally attest, not all of these deaths were the result of gun violence. Many are suicides and horrific accidents. Most I know personally were killed by their own weapon.

I'm not suggesting that we ban guns. I'm saying that for the preservation of our country, we need to use a common sense approach to gun ownership. My dad and brother hunted a lot. I don't recall that they needed an assault weapon to bag their deer. In fact, my brother preferred bow hunting.

I tend to be a bit compulsive. When I want something, I want it NOW. But is it necessary for me to walk into Wal Mart and walk out with a gun? No, I'm a grownup. I'm more than capable of waiting awhile. And I really don't need to shop for ammo on the internet. Heck, Sudafed has more controls than firearms. When I buy lye to make soap, I have to sign a registry. I don't mind at all. If I want to ride a scooter to work, I have to take a class before I can test for a license.

 In my county, its cheaper and easier to get a gun than a dog license. Our local politicans brag on that little fact.

I don't have the answers. But this is what I want. I want gun owners to come up with the answers. Real answers. I want to see a national conversation on the subject of gun violence. I want my congressman to stop ignoring the mayhem and grow a pair.

I want people to stop perceiving guns as sacred objects.  They aren't sacred. They are tools with one specific purpose: to kill things. Deer and snakes, elephants, lions and humans.

I want people to stop excusing and justifying the craziness.
 "If there'd been even one person with a concealed carry permit..."  To borrow someone else's phrase...that's a cowboy fantasy.

 "As long as we live in a free country, we have to accept that this will happen." So Australia isn't free? Canada? Great Britain?

"If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns." Yeah, that's so original. I had that bumper sticker on my binder back in 1973. Along with "Custer had it coming."

By the way, since I started writing this post, 22 more people have been shot. The ticker now shows 42.


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