First off, I want to say that I am not a member of the National Rifle Association. I did grow up around guns and have owned them all my life, although I am not a hunter. Me and my friends used to target shoot for the fun of it– that was until Hanover got so big with subdivisions that you cannot do that anymore. At one time I even shot in competition. I have owned everything from handguns to military rifles.
I don’t really watch the news because I feel that the media exploit a lot of things and constantly probe regardless of people’s feelings. Take for instance the recent shootings at Sandy Hook. Just like the Columbine shootings, the media have been all in these people’s faces. Now the town is so saturated with people from everywhere wanting to help, that they cannot continue to move on past this tragedy.
That is not what this letter is about though.
I read on my online homepage that since this tragedy, the vice president of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, was stated as saying that we as a country need to “put armed guards in our schools nationwide.” I was dumbfounded when I read this because for the last 12 years that my son was in Hanover County Public Schools, they have always had Hanover Deputies, or “Resource Officers” as they are called, at the schools at all times, who, I might add, are armed. I may be wrong, but I also believe that they are at all the school functions and games. I have just always assumed that all schools in our nation were like this already, but I guess not. While talking to some of my friends this weekend, they did not even know that Hanover schools had Resource Officers. I have to sit back and wonder what if Sandy Hook had a Resource Officer? Would this have escalated to the level that it did?
Unfortunately, that is something that we will never know. So I would like to personally thank the Hanover Sheriffs Department for being there for our children, and as always, for doing a great job in protecting our kids and for doing programs such as D.A.R.E. in our schools.
Minutes after news raced across this nation of the horrible slaughter of children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, our President pledged to place politics aside and to address gun violence in America. His likely argument will be to restrict gun ownership and access. He and his case will be countered by millions of law-abiding gun owners, the NRA, and the Constitution.
No one wants to see a repeat of this tragedy, and we should search for ways to prevent a recurrence. Have we ever given thought to what inspires people to commit these acts of terror? I will insist that any remedy include an examination of our entertainment industry. Movie after movie, television show after television show portrays death and destruction in the most graphic terms. Some of the popular video games enable players to kill, maim, and mutilate their opponent; all in pursuit of fun and excitement.
I recognize that the entertainment industry is a close ally of liberal causes. Maybe it’s time to put politics aside and talk about the role that Hollywood plays in providing grist for the mill of the mentally deranged.
I’ve lived in Ashland since 1994, and I’m proud to call it my home. But I was raised in Newtown, Conn. and the shooting deaths there hit home in a profoundly disturbing way. One of the first responders is a close family friend, and several of the victims’ families are friends of friends. It left me numb. It still does. This is only the most recent example of what is a national epidemic of gun violence.
The numbers are sickening. Over the past decade, death rates from firearms in the U.S. have been stable at around 30,000 per year. Add in injuries from firearms and the annual toll climbs to about 100,000. (Data from the CDC. See http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/.) For comparison: Each year, deaths from firearms in the U.S. amount to 10 times the deaths incurred in the 9/11 attacks. Each year we lose more lives from firearms than we have lost soldiers in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined, since they began.
I was moved to write to my Representative, Eric Cantor, to urge him to support legislation that would address this issue. His response left me cold. He called the event in Newtown ”cowardly.” He said there are no easy answers. He pledged to stand with the victims and their families. How? By examining “reforms that can be made with respect to how we deal with school safety, violent culture, and mental health issues.” There was no mention of guns.
The idea that “violent culture” — movies and video games — has a serious role in this epidemic is a ruse. In 2008 we lost over 31,000 lives to guns, and more than 12,000 of these were homicides. In Japan that year guns played a role in 11 homicides. Kids play video games in Japan. They watch violent movies. We stand alone among developed countries when it comes to gun violence. It sickens me.
The difference lies in effective legislation. I’m writing this letter with the hope that, finally, like me, others are moved to act on this issue, to address it sensibly and soberly as the epidemic that it is. I’m hoping others, like me, will urge their legislators to take meaningful steps toward a long-term solution, before the next Virginia Tech or Newtown. Because unless we demand it, and do so overwhelmingly, it is clear to me that Mr. Cantor has no intention of doing so.