Sunday, September 9, 2012

“People Kill People—With Guns”

Whenever the phone rang in the middle of the night, I’d sit straight up in bed, “Dad’s been shot!” the first thought hitting my sleepy brain.
Fortunately, that call never came. My father, a deputy sheriff for Galveston County, never fired his weapon once (while on duty) in all of his years in law enforcement.
         Dad loved his work. Although he’d come home looking like an arsenal—riffle, shotgun, hand guns, bag loaded with ammunition, he prided himself on his ability to rely upon his communication skills in dealing with “problems” at work. He often spoke of the dangers of the lenient gun laws in Texas. He complained that the danger in his work came more from domestic disputes than hardened criminals. A drunken and angry husband with a gun in the dresser drawer posed more threat to my father’s safety than any other situation.
         He stressed that it didn’t matter what kind of class people took for learning about guns and weapons because angry, or drunk, or drugged people do stupid things. He had many examples of “regular Joes” and their mishaps with weapons.  
Dad described one call he answered late one night. A man, distraught and depressed, stood in the middle of his front yard, weeping. He aimed his shotgun at his wife, threatened to kill her and then himself. This man held a good job, lived in a good neighborhood, and practiced his religious beliefs every Sunday. He didn’t buy a gun to kill his wife, or himself, or my father. Yet one terrible night, he found himself in a standoff with policemen. Captured in spotlights, his power amplified by his weapon, he stood ready to kill.
         I know some of you chant, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”
         I don’t think you listen to just how plain ignorant that sounds.
         Maybe you’d have a different view if it was your father who stood within range of that weapon and had the job of diffusing the situation without loss of life. Maybe you’d understand that every gun within reach of the public, even “good, honest, hard-working citizens” meant possible threat to my father and other law enforcement agents.
         Whenever we hit an election year, I think of my father answering a call at some Joe the Plumber’s house where this upright citizen, who’s never broken a law, descends into desperation and despair. I want the laws to change to where the weapons this man has within his home don’t turn him into a tragedy because he’s capable of firing hundreds of rounds into his neighborhood.
                 Karl F. Abrams

Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman


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