Quiet Desperation

Talk about gun rights must acknowledge gun wrongs


“Don’t look down,” the volunteer firemen were told. The ones who were charged with removing bodies at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012.

Every time I hear about another gun-related incident in a school, in a home, in a theater, almost anywhere, that might have involved an individual with mental health issues, I think about those three little words.

Every time I hear local politicians and others say, “We send our thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims,” I think about those three words.

And every time the Second Amendment is said to be incontestable, I think about those three words.

Eventually, most of us learn how small we are in the perspective of life and time and existence, and that’s me. Sometimes it’s frustrating, but I accept it, and I have decided to limit my complaints to ones I can find humor in.

There’s no humor in the Second Amendment.

It causes automatic responses and involuntary impulses — on both sides.

Now: Along comes the “red flag” bill.

Douglas County Commissioner Lora Thomas said, “We cannot and will not stand by idly as your freedoms and liberties are threatened.”

Were any of our freedoms and liberties threatened when an 18-year-old from Florida flew to Colorado, took a ride from the airport directly to a Littleton-area gun shop, purchased a gun and was identified as a “credible threat” who closed schools and consequently impacted thousands of students and their parents?

Still not enough.

It’s possible — it’s probable — that the 18-year-old, who was infatuated with Columbine, had mental health issues.

How many of us have mental health issues?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the United States — 43.8 million or 18.5 percent — experience mental illness in a given year.”

The “red flag” bill may not be perfect. But here’s a bulletin: Neither is the Second Amendment.

But it is viewed by many as if it were, and incontrovertible, even though practically every other long-held view, law, regulation and ardently held belief is periodically revisited, and often amended.

I am resigned to just about all of this by now. But I watch faces, and I see eyes widen whenever there’s an incident, and someone suggests that we do something about it, or, as Colorado legislator Lois Court said, “I am sick and tired of inaction when we see tragedies caused by gun violence.”

Court, in some parts of the state, would lose her job over those words.

I am a naive misfit, something I have known for a long time. I don’t believe in fireworks on the Fourth of July. I don’t believe in Mother’s Day or Father’s Day or Valentine’s Day.

And I don’t believe that the Second Amendment is untouchable.

A Boulder woman, Lindasue Smollen, and I are in agreement that something should be done, but she is more committed to it than I am. She paid for advertising on six billboards in Weld County. They read: “More Americans have died of gun violence since 1970, including murders, suicides, and accidents (1.4 million) than in all the wars in American history (1.3 million). Thoughts and prayers are not enough.”

I am trying my best to co-exist in a gun country and in a gun state. Daily, I hope none of my friends is hurt or killed by someone who might have had his or her gun sensibly taken away.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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