Under normal conditions I would not re-post a copyrighted piece. These shadow days following the Sandy Hook Elementary School slaughter are not normal. What follows was written by my good friend Nancy Heath Howell, outdoor writer for the Time Record News. Her words stand on their own, needing no further commentary from me.
Open minds and experienced gun owners needed to address tragedy
By Nancy Howell
Plans for a Christmas column have been shelved.
The tragedy of Sandy Hook elementary school pre-empts my musings on gift ideas for that special outdoorsman or woman on your list.
Instead, I will tread into the delicate subject on everyone’s mind — guns.
Twenty-six children and adults walked into a Connecticut school last Friday, just another ordinary December day. They did not walk out.
A mentally-unstable gunman, armed with his mother’s legally-obtained weapons, forced his way into the building. He systematically and unapologetically killed 20 first-graders and six adults in a matter of a few minutes.
How? With handguns, magazine clips and a semi-automatic rifle able to shoot off 30 rounds of ammunition in rapid time.
I am a responsible gun owner. I hunt. I come from a long line of hunters. I married into a similar family, with a great legacy of hunting and fishing. It’s my privilege and honor to pass that knowledge and love onto my two sons.
I do not own a handgun or any guns with high ammunition capacity. The guns in my home are not loaded, and are secured and stored away from ammunition. They are in my possession for hunting purposes, period.
For me, a shotgun holding three shells is perfect for hunting pheasant and quail. I have no need for rifles with capacity for 30 rounds of ammo. It is purely a personal choice.
The subject of guns and gun control stirs everyday folks up into frenzy. It is a hot button topic whose volatility rivals only abortion rights and gay marriage.
Whenever something as heinous and as evil as Sandy Hook occurs, rumors of the government banning guns, or taking guns from responsible gun owners always run rampant.
Our Constitution is comprised of 27 amendments, with the second being “the right to bear arms.”
Responsible, law-abiding citizens should have that privilege — others should not.
The circumstances of how the Sandy Hook gunman availed himself of his mother’s weapons will continue to be debated. The bottom line: 26 families are picking up the pieces of their shattered lives.
There’s a first-grade classroom with only one survivor, a child who played “dead” among her 20 slain classmates and teacher.
I cannot fathom the grief gripping so many. I kiss the top of my boys’ heads and watch them gather backpacks and jackets as they exit my vehicle. I wave as they head into their elementary school each morning.
Before Sandy Hook, I took for granted they would be coming out of that building each afternoon.
The problem is complex and multilayered, with no easy, quick-fix answers. I certainly don’t have one.
Issues with mental health screening and law enforcement’s hands being tied unless crimes are committed could be contributing factors.
And God? He did not allow this to happen because prayer has been removed from the public school system.
Are guns too easy to obtain? Should there be a limit to assault rifles, semi-automatic weapons and the amount of ammunition available for purchase?
Honestly, I do not know.
What I do know is we must do everything in our power to ensure that Sandy Hook is the last school shooting in our history.
Do we arm our teachers? Do we have armed guards and metal detectors in every school in America?
Hunters and outdoor enthusiasts are among the most responsible, law-abiding, conscientious segments of our population. We play by the rules. We relish our time outside, pursuing an age-old ritual of hunting game for our families. It provides relaxation and a time to bond with family and friends. We connect with God’s creation on a pure, instinctual level.
Surely this portion of folks can assist law enforcement, local and state governments and school administrators. Together we need to brainstorm ways of preventing another Sandy Hook.
Let’s come to the discussion table with open minds, leaving political party lines, gun association memberships and preconceived opinions at the door.
This is not what our founding fathers envisioned when drafting the Second Amendment. The time to draw the line in the sand is now.
Every child has the right to be safe at school. Parents long to feel secure once again about leaving them there.
We owe it to our children.
We owe it to our country.
© 2012 Times Record News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.