CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I was a child during the final years of the Great Depression. The wild game my father and brothers hunted helped feed our large family. No one in our family ever took a rifle down from the wall and used it for any other purpose. It wasn't thought of. Undoubtedly, had we lived in a crime ridden, urban setting, guns might have been used for self-defense.
The issue of the Second Amendment never came up. We were taught that it was put in the Constitution because the British government seized our hunting rifles and placed soldiers in our homes against our will. They couldn't have foreseen civilians owning assault rifles with large magazines capable of mass murder. How can a free people be free to pursue happiness in such an environment?
I have been haunted by images of children in Africa carrying those large military assault rifles that were almost as long as they were tall. Lately, I have wondered if there is a connection between the NRA, manufacturers of assault rifles, the worldwide arms race and gun running. We know that whenever and wherever there is a dollar to be made, unsuspecting, naïve and fever-pitched citizens may be persuaded to believe we are about to be overtaken by a shadow enemy such as the UN. Thus the justification is found for the sale of fierce weaponry to defend our homes and homeland.
The NRA has lobbyists, funds political campaigns and bombards the citizenry with a mind-numbing blitzkrieg of pro-gun propaganda. I do believe that most citizens feel deep and sincere patriotic obligations, but they can be manipulated into taking extreme sides on an issue.
As a concerned, interested and involved citizen, it occurs to me that there is a double standard when it comes to citizenship and patriotism. I have to question the citizenship and patriotism of American corporations and organizations that engage in the obfuscation of the truth about gun control. In this case, gun manufacturers and their front men. If the makers of assault weapons are citizens, what are their patriotic duties and obligations? Are they concerned with keeping our children and streets safe or making a buck?
Corporate entities have great influence on our perceptions and beliefs. Shouldn't they have to demonstrate their loyalty through good citizenship and patriotism? Shouldn't they inspire us all to reach for the higher ideals put forth by our founders?
Perhaps if these fearful and frightened Americans, who choose to be obtuse about the reality of what they are advocating, who brusqely sweep aside dissenting views, were forced to fund these future armed camps (schools) without taxpayer funding, we might have less enthusiasm for schools that resemble boot camps and more for solutions that promote the well-being and safety of America's youth, and help to move our Democracy toward a more peaceful and healthy state.
It breaks my heart to think that my grandchildren and future great-grandchildren will not only have to deal with ordinary problems of childhood but may have to learn in an environment that is more a prison than a schoolhouse. It is mind boggling that some American citizens advocate that teachers be armed in the classroom. It seems unlikely that an armed teacher might rise to the occasion and battle it out -- successfully -- with a crazed, gun-wielding killer. Are said teachers going to wear helmets and body armor, too? What about the children? Are they to go unprotected in the crossfire? One can only imagine the madness of such a scenario.
Dick Cheney once said: "We also have to work, though, sort of on the dark side, if you will." Do we have to work on the dark side, too? Is this the kind of country we want for our children? Isn't there a better way? Is it in our interest to pass on such a legacy to future generations? How will history regard us?
Holswade lives in Ronceverte.