Several years ago, I wrote a column about limiting access to guns.
The hate mail I received was astounding, ranging from calling me un-American to detailing accounts (fictional, I’m sure after reading them) of being forced to bring out guns while a family was being attacked by an armed invader in the house. I did a lot of searching through police reports and found absolutely nothing resembling the incident in or around Adel.
I know the gun lobby is powerful. I know gun owners are very protective of their rights. I understand that countless Americans enjoy the “sport” of hunting live game.
I have never, ever proposed that guns be taken away from the public.
Following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I remained silent. Following the attack at a movie theater in Colorado, I remained silent. When an armed, self-proclaimed White Supremacist shot and killed several people at a black church in South Carolina, I remained silent.
It’s a sad commentary on life in America, the greatest country on this planet, that gun violence continues to raise its ugly head. And, I firmly believe, the blame for that falls on Congress — those folks elected to serve, who continually take money from the gun lobbyists and who continually don’t have the personal intestinal fortitude to say enough is enough.
How many American lives must be lost before those elected to serve and protect us actually live up to that promise? How many innocent children will die because of gun violence before they even reach adulthood?
Many of us who’ve been born and raised and still live in Iowa have had our belief that Iowa is a safe place to live, a safe place to raise our families, have had that belief shaken by that same gun violence? We once looked at places like New York, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles — and too many others — and shook our heads in wonder and dismay over the many shootings, many described quite graphically on national news broadcasts and in our own daily and weekly newspapers.
Sadly, it’s become so commonplace all across America that we don’t, many of us anyway, utter even a “tsk, tsk” when we hear of the latest shootings.
I don’t own a gun — not a handgun nor a rifle nor a shotgun. That wasn’t always the case. A long, long time ago, I was in the military. I was assigned an M-14 rifle and was tasked to carry it with me, to clean it with the utmost care and, yes, to fire it accurately when called upon to do so. I did all of that, and did it well, I think. I served as a city policeman and carried a powerful handgun during the eight months I so served, although it was the one job I despised over my lifetime. I even participated on a police shooting team and was a pretty good shot, competing against other departments and, even, a Highway Patrol team.
Once I no longer had a use for firearms (I like to say I chose a typewriter as my weapon), I quickly rid myself of them. I have no use for a handgun, nor do I have use for a rifle or shotgun, since I’m not a hunter. That’s not to say I begrudge those who do — I don’t. I have a grandson who hunts and am proud that the game he bags is always used as food for the family.
But, hunting has spread from the open fields and streams. Now, it seems that the real “big game” for some is found through assaults on innocent Americans — even those attending Sunday church services.
These shooters are nothing more than cowards. It’s like shooting ducks in a pond, except that it’s human “ducks” that are being slaughtered — helpless humans attending church, or kids attending Kindergarten, or young couples attending an evening movie.
The time to act on these disgraceful excuses for human beings is long overdue. But, it’s never too late for those who are entrusted to make our laws, who are entrusted with passing legislation to protect us, and, yes, who take money from gun groups, do something other than give us only passing commentary.
I’ve heard enough of comments like, “Take away guns and only criminals will have guns.”
That’s a cop out and nothing more.
Something has to be done and it all starts with the people we hire, through the ballot box, to make sensible laws that protect us rather than force us into a gun battle.
Bill Haglund is a retired writer for the Boone News-Republican and Dallas County News and can be reached at email@example.com.