I am posting this blog with an incredibly heavy heart. Today such an unspeakable evil reared its head and destroyed so many families. My heart aches for the family and loved ones of the small children who were slaughtered at Sandy Hook Elementary and also for the family and loved ones of those brave adults who truly gave their lives attempting to save children and in several cases, did save the lives of many. My heart is also heavy with grief for the family of the young man who perpetrated this horrible evil.
I truly cannot—nor do I wish to—imagine the agony the families of these victims are suffering. There are truly no words to express the sorrow, the grief, and the sympathy I feel for these families.
I’m a western historical romance writer. Guns and weapons are a part of the stock and trade in this genre. I will state up front that I own several weapons, ranging in caliber from a .22 up to a 30-06. That said this will not be a blog about whether or not we need more or less gun control laws. The wounds are much too raw, much too painful to even begin a rational discussion on gun control laws. Just let me state—for the record, the young man who slaughtered all those lives did NOT have possession of those firearms legally. They were stolen from the legal owner—his own mother.
Gun ownership is a right. Period. It is guaranteed to us by our Constitution and it has nothing to do with hunting but everything to do with the citizenry protecting themselves from a tyrannical government. Yet, all rights assume responsibility. I’m reminded of the line from a movie that with great power comes great responsibility.
Owning a gun carries the highest responsibility. Holding a firearm means that you now literally hold the power of life and death over another living, breathing being in the palm of your hand. Keeping that weapon secured with a child-proof gun lock and hopefully in a locked gun safe is a part of that responsibility. Teaching any child or children in the household how to fire those weapons and teaching them a healthy respect for those weapons must be a part of that responsibility.
Both of my kids were fascinated with weapons when they were younger. Realizing this, I set up a time to take them to the firing range and let both of them shoot the shot gun. After my daughter picked herself up off the floor where she had been knocked by the recoil, she swore she was never going to touch another gun again. Well, she’s now an expert shooter, but she never touched another gun until she was more prepared, both physically and mentally. She also hunts and says she sheds a tear every time she takes down her prey, but she is also very proficient. The respect for the power of that weapon was taught to her at a young age when it knocked her flat on her butt.
For his job, my son must qualify on a firing range every so often. He is now teaching his son to not only respect but to be responsible with firearms.
We are teaching our grand-daughter how to shoot and to both respect and be responsible with firearms. She’s getting a smaller stock .22 rifle for Christmas. When she is not on the firing range, her weapon will be secured with a gunlock and secured away in a gun safe. It is our responsibility to assure that she will be safe around weapons and how to responsibly handle a weapon.
Handled with respect and with the understanding that this is a weapon which can and will take the life of the target it is aimed at must be taught. But before that, the respect for life must be taught. That seems to be the hardest lesson to teach and learn. We have learned the wrong lesson about life. It is much too cheap now. And that is the most gut-wrenching, agonizing lesson from today’s tragedy. We have not taught our children that life is the most precious and priceless gift there is.