19 December 2012


It has been almost a week now since the tragedy in Connecticut.  Millions of tears have been shed and our collective heart is heavy with the shock and horror of it all.  The whole world is grieving with the people of Newtown, CT for those innocent souls lost.  Many eloquent and profound words have been spoken and written, sermons preached in houses of worship, and various ideas offered for a way to prevent a reoccurrence.  

Here is a link to an article I found which makes a lot of sense, offering two very simple ideas with which no rational individual should disagree.  However, it does raise a few more questions.  

Since I wrote the previous post, we have discovered that the mother of the shooter was not employed at Sandy Hook Elementary School as was first reported.  However, she was a gun enthusiast, and she had a houseful of legally obtained guns.  She regularly took her sons shooting.  The only problem with this is that her younger boy was mentally ill.  He had no business having access to guns, even if they were kept locked up.  Why on earth would anyone teach a mentally ill person to become a sharpshooter?  

If this is your hobby or even your livelihood, and you have an unstable person living in your home, I personally think you probably need to find another hobby or career path.

My sibling is such a person.  He is a gun enthusiast and a gun dealer, as well as a maker of guns.  It is his livelihood.  To put it plainly, he has always been absolutely gun crazy, even as a little boy.  As far as I know, target shooting and hunting are the only way he uses the guns, simply something he loves doing.  He collects guns like I collect dishes and books.  However, his only son was a problem child, frequently in lots of trouble while growing up.  I always worried that he might get hold of some of the "merchandise" (which my brother assured us all was kept securely under lock and key) and commit some awful deed.  He had been taught even as a small child to hunt, and therefore, how to shoot well, as my brother wanted to share his love of the sport with his son.

We have long been estranged, and I do not know anything about their situation now, although his son would be an adult.  I really don't know what the answer would be for a person in his position.  For one thing, he has always been an activist when it comes to Second Amendment rights, and he is really committed to the cause.  A mental health screening of all persons who apply to buy a gun, not to mention having to answer a question like "Do you have any crazy people in your family?" would certainly not set well with him or with many people for that matter.  In the South we joke that no one ever asks "Do you have crazy people in your family?" only "Which side are they on?"  

I think it should be harder to buy a gun legally, no question.  I do think I don't want my right to own a gun for the protection of my property and person taken away.  However, I have said it before and I am saying it again:  unless you are a cop or a soldier, you do not need to own assault weapons.  Killing people is the sole purpose of such weapons.  This most recent nutty kid certainly could not have committed such carnage with a simple revolver which holds six to nine bullets.  

Everyone is aware that the street criminals like gangbangers don't buy their weapons legally, but that is a whole other issue.  They are not the ones who shoot up movie theatres and schools and try to assassinate congresswomen in supermarkets.  

We are all struggling to come to grips with what has happened.  It has cast a universal pall over what should be the most joyous celebration of the year for most of us.  In a Mass I attended this past Sunday, the priest kept telling us to "Rejoice" -- even though most of us just want to cry.  Truly, the words sounded hollow to me.

I don't think there is anything wrong with trying to go on with our Christmas celebrations with our own loved ones, as long as we keep the brokenhearted in our own hearts.  There is nothing wrong with finding pleasure (and distraction) in our own pursuits.  Yes, a lot of how some of us spend our time is trivial, and maybe it does seem kind of an empty and useless waste of time right now.  On the blogs, people are writing that they feel almost guilty for posting photos of their pretty Christmas decorations or the furniture they have painted.  

Don't!  If we give up what makes us happy, it isn't going to undo what has been done.  It will not bring any of the victims back.  It will not make their families feel any better.  What it actually might do is make us a little nuts, too.  Life is short, and life is tenuous.  Be thankful that you still have one to live.  And that means if you enjoy blogging or painting or crafting or cooking as a hobby, then go right ahead and do it. It is mentally healthy.

I like the idea that has been going around the blogs about performing random acts of kindness.  That idea has been around for a long time, and it resurfaces every so often.  This time of the year, especially, we are reminded that so many people are suffering in so many ways.  Maybe you can do a little more, give a little more, be a little nicer.  It is good to examine ourselves, always.  

"An unexamined life is not worth living."

And that is my opinion.


P.S.  This morning I found another post by the insightful Dominique Browning.  Here is the link to NOT MY FATHER'S NRA, which is urging people to take the NRA to task for not being the same organization it once was.  It is a wonderfully well-written piece.


  1. Thank you for this nicely written post, Ellen.

    I have to agree that there is NO valid reason anyone but law enforcement and the armed forces to have semi-automatic weapons or clips holding more than 8 rounds.

    My thoughts and prayers are with the families/friends of the victims of Newtown.

  2. Preach it, Rev. Ellen! Preach it! (Oh, my! Did my conservative & quiet Catholic roots just stand up on the back of my head and weep??!?!) Seriously, though...well said. Gun control is a big ol' crazy issue in this country, and I see validity in both sides. I agree with you, however, that assault weapons are just unnecessary for "personal use." Unfortunately, that's what a lot of the gang banger guys have. If they come into your home with one of those bad boys on 'em and all you have is a 6-shooter, it's like taking a Q-tip to a slug fest. The ONLY people who should be legally allowed to use or possess an assault weapon are the people sworn to protect and serve. I hate with all my heart that the scene in Connecticut and all similar scenes around the world happened. It is unfathomable that anyone could just sashay up into an elementary school (or ANYWHERE, for that matter!) and start blasting away. (Sashay...Southern word. You're gettin' to me!) Those are people with no conscience, no heart, no soul. They are the monster under the bed. They are the ghost in the closet. They are the Boogie Man. And they are to be feared. I don't know when our government (and our citizenry!) will wake up and figure that out, then create and enforce laws to stop the madness. No, we can't control every evil deed in this life, but it sure makes more sense to me to TRY rather than to pretend it'll take care of itself. Make it hard as hell to buy a gun. Do background checks that'll make you WISH it had been a saltwater enema instead. Impose stiffer penalties for illegal use/possession of guns. Make the recognition and handling of mental health issues a priority in this country in the same way serious physical ailments are. Keep a healthy checks and balances system going that ousts elected officials who don't take the overall health and well-being of this nation seriously but prefer instead to line their own pockets and wallow in power. Don't take away people's rights, but make them know that with rights come certain responsibilities.

    I totally agree...do the "frivolous" things we enjoy without guilt or remorse. Depriving ourselves of those things only makes us sadder because we are, after all, only human. Life, as hard as it may be, must go on.

    Good post, Ellen.


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