Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A bullet's wide arc

As I have reflected on the past week of mass shootings and the anniversary of my own sister's murder by gun as well as a similar anniversary of a friend's daughter's senseless murder, I am struck by how often it is thought that death by bullet could never happen to you or someone you know. This thought percolated to the surface this morning at my church. The minister gave a sermon about the lamp needed in a world of flashlights and the scripture from Luke that warns that we should always be dressed for action. That's me- always dressed for action. So are a lot of other people who take up causes near and dear to their hearts and attempt to do what is the right thing for the greater good.

During the sharing time, I marked the anniversary of my sister's murder and asked for prayers also for the family of my friend, whose daughter was murdered in a domestic dispute eerily similar to my sister's and even more coincidentally, on August 6th several years after the date of when my family learned of my sister's shooting. I asked for people to reflect on the mass murders earlier in the week and to pray that our elected leaders would see this light talked about in the sermon and do the right thing concerning measures to prevent shootings. Can't we do something about what is in front of our noses? Too many gun deaths. Too many people in poverty. Too many people losing their jobs. Too many people losing their homes. Too many people suffering every day. And our country is talking about gay marriage, about whether Michelle Obama should be traveling in Spain, about Mosques planned in the area of "ground zero" and whether or not our President was born in the U.S!

After the service a woman I know approached me with her daughter in tow. You see, in the prayer time, a man asked for prayers also for a 17 year old who was shot by a police officer a few days ago in Duluth. The woman's 14 year old daugher is a friend of the victim's sister and has been struggling with this latest shooting in our city. The community is trying to figure out what happened that could lead an officer to shoot a 17 year old. The boy had been drinking and had earlier that evening been driven home by the police after a party had been broken up due to underage drinking. He then went on a rampage in his home and nearby homes, breaking windows with a baseball bat and reaking havoc. The police were called back to the home and a lone officer was chased by the young man with the bat while still in his car; he backed up his patrol car and hit a parked car where his patrol car was now stuck. The boy continued breaking out the glass of the windshield, threatening the officer and the officer shot his gun, killing the boy.

The community reels. What was the officer thinking? Was he frightened for his life as he was trapped in the car? Was it necessary to shoot the boy? What could cause such rage in a young boy? He did have a troubled past when you read about him. But still, now he's dead and his family, though partly estranged, lives with the aftermath as always happens and the pain continues for family, friends and the community- even for the officer who will live with having shot a young boy. Police officers are scared for their own lives, for good reason. See this article about yet more police officers shot in New York City in a "shoot-out"- way too common on our cities' streets these days.  Police feel outgunned on the streets. What a tragic way to live life and lose life daily in our communities.

This post was meant to talk about the awful aftermath of shootings that reaches out to people beyond the immediate family. Here is a young girl in my church, now struggling with the shooting of her friend's brother. She is reaching out to help her friend, whose life will never be the same. The eddy grows wider and wider as people begin to realize that they know this person or know someone who knows the person or is related. Such is the case with my sister's murder. People in my church know me and they have supported me over these years. They remember the day the shooting happened. How could they not? My minister, new to the church, had moved to Duluth before her husband who was still working as a Police Officer in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Soon after I called my minister, she spoke with her husband. What are the chances that he would be on duty that day and was at the crime scene of my sister's murder? He saw her body. I did not. He saw the murder scene. I did not. He has to live with what he saw that day. He has since left his law enforcement career and now works in Social Services and Information Technology, a much gentler profession where he doesn't fear for his own life daily.

And the more we know, the more we understand the awful toll taken by bullets. Police officers live with it every day. Our country's largest cities have daily shootings. But shootings happen anywhere and to anyone. Be dressed for action and ready to respond to violence all around us. It can and does happen unexpectadly to people you know or know of. Then you are become one in the circle of victims.

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