Friday, April 21, 2023

A Good Killling Ground?

 We haven’t been with family since before the pandemic. Nor have we felt all that positive about travel. But we are jumping into it this week, as we have planned a family reunion where we will share some beach time together.

Then I read this morning about the beach shooting in South Carolina with six people wounded. There was a second article about a near-the-beach shooting in Mexico, where two male tourists were killed and a woman wounded. I knew a person could be shot and killed: in school; in church; in the theatre; at the mall; in a drive-by shooting while in your car, or on your porch, or walking. It hadn’t occurred to me that the beach was a good killing ground. But why not? Guns can show up there, just like everyplace else!

It reminded me of the Sunday morning I almost got shot by some South Dakota deer hunters. I was serving a rural church and taking a different route than usual on a little traveled country road. I suddenly came upon three hunters who had trapped a deer in a roadside ditch. It must have been initially wounded as they were all three close and surrounding it. The deer was jumping erratically, as if it was all nerve action with nothing controlling its movements. The hunters were obviously frightened as its hooves were flying in all directions and they couldn’t be sure a deer body wouldn’t be hurtling onto them at any moment. All three of them were pumping more bullets into this moving target and at least two whizzed by my window.

I sped on, breathing deep and feeling gratitude for my self passage; as well as dismay for the violence of the scene I had just witnessed. I can imagine how veterans of war, as well as victims of mass shootings, can be traumatized by their experiences with lasting impacts.

We should all be getting traumatized by the school shootings in this country. One picture I saw on Facebook I had to re-post. It was a young girl. She looked to be 10 or 11 years old. She was obviously at some demonstration with other students and carrying a home made sign. It read, “If I die in a school shooting, leave my body on the steps of Congress.”

One person commented that it might be hard to do that if she was killed by an assault weapon. There would likely be lots of pieces.

Another post I replicated reads, “I choose the 2nd. Grader over the 2nd. Amendment.” I’m afraid our one Congressional Representative, Dusty Johnson, doesn’t make that choice! I wrote him about banning assault weapons. They are meant for war. Thy used to be banned; and back then gun violence was not the number one killer of our kids; like it is now. According to the response to my letter,  Dusty believes, “The Founders placed the right to keep and bear arms in the Constitution, and I believe it should be defended.”


Dusty proceeded to tell me all of the things he was doing to protect gun rights, saying nothing at all about what he was doing to protect school children; or beach goers; or church goers; or shoppers! He concluded with, ‘I will continue fighting to advance our Second Amendment rights and curtail unconstitutional limitations wherever possible.” Thanks Dusty! Do you think we should be glad traffic accidents and suicide are no longer the leading cause of death for our young people? With gun violence and mass shootings, we have a new number 1.

But, I suppose Dusty is just following in the footsteps of our senior South Dakota Republican. Senator, Senator Thune. In an interview about assault weapons, he was quoted as saying, “"In my state, they use them to shoot prairie dogs and, you know, other types of varmints. And so I think there are legitimate reasons why people would want to have them.” He’s not alone in his lack of confidence in gun owners being good shots with a 22 or hunting rifle. Representative Buck from Colorado believes his constituents need assault weapons to keep raccoons from getting chickens.

None of these folks want to address assault weapons in Uvalde, where 19 children and 2 teachers were killed; or the Buffalo super market where the shooter gunned down 10. Or did you see the video of the killer at the school in Nashville, shooting out the glass in the doors where she entered with an assault weapon? Watch it! Six died there; three children and 3 adults.

Perhaps you heard that the damage to the children’s bodies at Uvalde was so significant, parents had to give DNA swabs to help identify the remains of their kids. Doctors tell us these assault weapons can “pulverize human bones, turn organs into mush, and leave wounds the size of an orange.”  

Honestly, what is so hard about saying weapons of war should be reserved for war? They should not be in our homes and on our streets, threatening young and old wherever they go. 

It’s past time for mass resistance to mass shootings. Here’s to a student/teacher strike, all across the country, till we have a new assault weapons ban. Let living young people lie on the steps of Congress; not dead ones!

Carl Kline

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