This is the second shooting of a Maplewood Police Officer in less than a year. The department is devastated. Gun deaths affect whole communities. Nothing will be the same for the officer's family and friends. His fellow officers will never forget. You may remember my experience at the Democratic Convention in Duluth last week-end. Several people who stopped to sign our post cards and agree with us about the need for background checks on all gun sales at gun shows were ex- law enforcement officers. They left the profession because of fear of being shot. Law Enforcement is there to protect the citizens and the community from people like the young men roaming the streets in the early morning hours looking for a car to steal.
Also, remember the "gun guy" ( Democratic delegate) who told me that police officers were evil. I shared that comment with the Duluth Deputy Police Chief this past week. He just shook his head and said he understood that, to some people, he represents the "government thugs" that they claim to fear. How can they fear those who protect public safety? The Maplewood Police Officer was just doing his job. He was not evil. The guys with the guns were the evil ones.
So, while walking the streets of Independence, Missouri, visiting Harry Truman's home and Presidential Library, I reflected on his life here. He came from humble beginnings. He never owned his own home. The home in Independence, a smallish, Civil War era classic home, was owned by his wife's family. After he left the Presidency, he lived in the very same home without protection of the Secret Service for many years. For some years, there was not even a fence around the small grounds. Life was pretty safe and pretty simple for Harry Truman. It was only after JFK was assassinated that the Secret Service insisted on moving into a home across the street to keep President Truman safe from crazed folks with guns. In all those years, only twice did people with guns try to get into the grounds. Both were mentally ill people- with guns.
I guess some things never change. And they won't until we make some changes to our loose gun laws and our gun culture. Police Officers are out-gunned. Ex Presidents require 24 hour a day Secret Service protection. President Obama has received more death threats than any other President. One can't speak his or her own mind without worrying about hateful comments and threats. At the wedding here in Independence is a former Obama advisor who has appeared on news programs. He told us that he doesn't like to do news shows because he receives too much hate mail. We must be able to state our views and disagree civilly or we will not be able to survive as a democracy. We are not a third world country, but some days you wouldn't know it after reading the news headlines.