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Letter: Of guns, profit and violence against children

A memorial outside the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and faculty were killed in a mass shooting on Feb. 14 in Parkland, Fla., Monday, Feb. 19, 2018. — Gerald Herbert/The Associated Press
A memorial outside the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and faculty were killed in a mass shooting on Feb. 14 in Parkland, Fla., Monday, Feb. 19, 2018. — Gerald Herbert/The Associated Press

So, the new normal: parents in the United States — one of the most advanced countries in the world — now spend their days anxiously wondering if their children will come home. No, no, not from some far-flung foreign war in say Iraq or Afghanistan. Not at all. It is whether they will come home from kindergarten, middle or high school. And if you suggest to them in any way that they are the ones at least in part responsible for school shootings, they would be incredibly vociferous in their denial, maybe even suggesting you need help with your own mental health challenges.

But for all that it is so. How so?

While they are suffering parents today, it was only yesterday or the day before they were electing to Congress persons who did, are doing, and will continue to do the bidding of those who pay their piper — the National Rifle Association. The strange part of this: many of these same parents are probably members of that same NRA.

The United States of America has a gun problem. It also has mental health challenges as do Canada, the U.K., Australia, Germany, India, China and every other country in the world. But none has the gun violence that is becoming the new normal in America. If we just take the relatively small country of Australia and note what happened when they changed the law on gun ownership, the reality of the connection between guns and killings becomes patently obvious; that is, except perhaps to the said NRA and yes, the president of the United States, who went out of his way to focus on mental health issues in both the Las Vegas slaughter and the new St. Valentine’s Day massacre in Florida.

In one of my lives I was a teacher, and once a teacher always so, perhaps. As I watched the story of the Florida killings unfold, how could I not shed a tear for the students and the brave, brave teachers who tried to shield their young bodies from gun violence? Three of them died in the process and I wonder, would I have been that brave? Would I have been willing to give my own life for the future of my country? I will never know the answer but I could not let this pass without protest.

Seventeen students and teachers died for no other reason than crass, unmitigated human greed. The selling of guns is one of the most profitable businesses in the world and, yes, the United Sates is awash with guns as well as gun violence. But think of this: while the gun dealers are making their fortunes on the backs of the very young and their teachers, Donald Trump absolutely refuses to talk of the connection between guns and violence, and won’t even mention the word gun.

But the children know better. The noise of gunfire and ambulances had barely ceased before the children, the survivors, began to denounce gun violence and demand action on the part of those their parents send to Congress. Out of the mouths of babes you say, and you are correct. If there is one group of people who are not afraid to speak truth to power, it is children, for they have not yet become fully political persons with lying political ways. It is believed that in the days ahead, the cry of the children will only become louder, and you know what? They just may help kick-start a dialogue that their heartbroken but somewhat reticent parents should have started long since. Is there hope? I believe so.

At home, we should be more than a little concerned about recent trends, especially the lowering of the legal age for hunters in this country. It will only increase the number of guns in circulation and I totally believe that was the only purpose in the first place: more profits for the gun dealers.

In closing, I would remind all that the first St. Valentine’s Day massacre was all about gun violence as well. That was in 1929. We’ve not come far at all.

Wayne Norman
St. John’s

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