Loose screws need attention

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sadness? Shock? Disbelief? Perhaps anger?

Chances are many of us had a little of all of the above in us after word began to spread last Friday morning regarding the senseless shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

Twenty boys and girls, ages six and seven, were among the 26 killed in one of the most gut-wrenching crime scenes in U.S. history.

There is no understanding this. Kids were killed.

I tell friends that have become new parents all the time that my favorite years by far with my children were between the ages of about two and seven. They are so innocent at that age that even the mischievous things they do are so dadgum cute that, rather than getting upset at them, you pick up the phone and tell your mother just how cute her grandchild was as she snuck an extra cookie out of the jar, or spilled syrup all over the kitchen.

Each time someone posts a picture on the Internet of one of the young victims, I cannot help but pause. It's a hurt that cuts down to the fibers of your soul, even though most of us had probably never heard of Newton, Conn., before Friday. As one friend said, "I wish I still hadn't."

I am a believer that the old saying -- "If we outlaw guns, then only outlaws will have guns" -- is more accurate than not.

I do think having a resource officer on each and every school campus at all times would be wise, regardless of the costs. If the government is going to spend money as if it's growing on trees, we might as well spend some to protect our schools to the enth degree.

However, does anyone outside of perhaps a Piers Morgan or Bob Costas truly believe that more gun control or a school resource officer could have stopped the Newton tragedy?

We cannot nor will ever will be able to stop most of those standing somewhere that far south of faith with the simple passage of legislation.

I grew up with shotguns and hunting rifles. I was entrusted with them at what I now realize was far too young an age. I rarely hunt anymore, but do have a lifetime reminder of the last time I pulled a trigger.

I have a couple of friends that are big into collecting unique guns. One friend had invited me over for a cookout one evening a few years back. He had just received some type of French sniper rifle that day and his teenage son wanted to test it out on the farm.

The father took a shot about 400-500 yards away at a box that had been set up as a target. The son followed. Then, they looked at me. I was in slacks and you had to lay on your belly to shoot.

After zeroing in on the target, I remembered my cardiologist telling me after surgery to avoid major impacts around the chest. I thought of the massive kick the rifle had, and at the last second, I squeezed in tighter with the shoulder. I did not think about the scope. For a split second, I was elated as I had come closer to hitting the target that the other two, missing by only about 10 inches from a distance I had never fired from before or since.

That elation soon faded as I realized I was bleeding profusely from an open gash. The scar is not very big, and, after my friend was killed a couple of months later in a motorcycle accident, I decided against trying to cover it, instead, wearing it proudly as a reminder of him.

This, of course, has nothing to do with Newton other than, for the first time in my life, I am tweaking my stance. I do not want to change our Second Amendment and our right to bear arms.

But, assault rifles? Sniper rifles such as the ones some of my friends collected? Are those necessary? Will they ever be necessary for the general public? You're never going to need to knock off that night's dinner at 600 yards away, are you?

I don't have the answer for how we can eliminate such tragedies as Newtown. And perhaps we never will, because, as long as there are people, there will be some with loose screws. Maybe, just maybe, we need to recognize those just a little faster and tighten them up.