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Personal Thoughts about Guns after Florida School Shooting

By Arline Rowden

I was watching students from the Florida school, where a shooting took place on 2-14-18, speak today on TV. I’m hoping that these courageous young people will be able to inspire change in a way that has not happened before now. It inspired me to reflect in a more personal way on this issue.

We all have our own histories around guns. I grew up on a farm and my father had a couple of long guns. He did hunt small game. Although he was quick to anger, he never shot anyone or even threatened to do that. He did have respect for guns.

When I was in 4H, I did a gun safety project. My dad taught me how to load a rifle and about the safety on the gun and more. It was also required to learn to shoot accurately. I did some target practice and completed the project. Then my dad thought I might like to go hunting with him. That’s when I realized that I did not want to shoot an animal. That was the end of my personal interaction with guns.

In 1969, one of my sisters was murdered by her ex-husband with his hunting rifle. I don’t believe he was mentally ill in the usual sense of the word. But he didn’t want the divorce. They had 7 children. She didn’t own a gun but if she had a gun that night would she have been able to shoot in self-defense? He was hiding in their house and came out shooting at her as she walked towards her home. I don’t think she ever imagined that would happen when she was returning home.

Their children were ages 5 to 15. All except one of them were in the house when the shooting happened. The oldest had to call the police and tell them that it was his father who was the shooter. He was arrested shortly after. Even though it was clearly first degree murder, he was willing to plead to a lesser charge. I think he spent 12 to 15 years in prison before he was released on parole.

My deceased sister’s children were adopted by our oldest sister and husband and they moved from Wisconsin to the east coast. The trauma forever impacted their lives. It also impacted our whole family. Personally, it took years for me to feel any level of safety in the world. I never felt drawn to have a gun to protect myself because I didn’t believe that I could shoot another being.

I’m not against people owning a gun but I feel it should be a privilege, not a right. There needs to be education around it and evaluation of the person’s ability to be a responsible gun owner. I also feel that civilians should not have assault rifles. I understand some people may find it fun to shoot them on a firing range. When the 2nd amendment was written it took a long time to reload a gun.

Our world has become so polarized. What happened to cooperation and compromise? When people are emotional they tend to say and do things without being very thoughtful. I believe we need to start thinking more about what kind of world we want to live in and how we can help the world to be a better place. I’m trying to be hopeful that change will happen.

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