Playing ‘Taps’ for a New Generation

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By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Another Memorial Day has come and gone.

Some used the long weekend to invite skin cancer at the beach, attend picnics or parties to celebrate the unofficial start of summer, and/or shop for bargains at stores being priced out of existence by online retailers.

In between, there was the normal pomp and circumstance – heightened this year on the 75th anniversary of Normandy — to honor those who died in service to our country.

Still, the sound of “Taps,” which used to give us goose bumps, is background noise to too many.

As much as that seems unfair, there is a stark recent statistic, and it tells us that we need to create a second day to remember those who have fallen on a different type of battlefield – the streets, schoolyards, and schools on the home front.

Despite an 11-year head start, more children have died since the horror of the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. than all U.S. soldiers lost in combat overseas since 9/11.

According to a report from the Department of Defense, the military operations since 9/11 have left 6,929 soldiers dead (6,950, counting Department of Defense civilians).

Since the death of 20 first-graders – and six adults – at Sandy Hook, the number of children killed by guns has crossed the 7,000 mark.

And still counting.

While there was some fleeting 24-hours news cycle attention paid to a workplace shooting that left a dozen dead in Virginia Beach, the subsequent weekend saw another bloodbath on the streets of Chicago.

And I can hear it now.

“There goes Gordon again,” you say, with a snort. “That ‘Snowflake’ just loves to write about gun control.”

Actually, I hate it.

With a passion.

The day I don’t have to write about it anymore – and can replace with a list of my favorite songs by Three Dog Night or lessons learned from watching “Seinfeld” — will be cause for a Memorial Day beach barbecue.

What can we do to get on top of this magical place?

It’s so simple that, in fact, maybe we have been missing it all along. Maybe, no matter which side of the issue we are on, we just need to be realistic and keep open minds.

If you are in favor of some extreme form of gun control – like going door to door and collecting them – it’s just not going to happen.

It’s sounds nice, but so does kissing a frog who turns into a prince.

If you are one of those who don’t want the laws touched at all – based on some major misinterpretation of the Second Amendment or, more than likely, “just because” – you are setting yourself up for disappointment as well.

It can’t – and won’t – go on the way it is.

The ebb and flow of the political tide simply won’t let it.

At some point, whether it’s all in 2020 or in two-year increments beyond, mindsets are going to turn more toward change on the issue, if only because people have a “change” fetish.

It’s the only way to explain how someone who says they would have voted for Bernie Sanders for president went for the polar opposite, in terms of political viewpoint, by voting for your president (not mine).

It’s the only way to explain the historic vote of 2018 that put so many women, from so many different backgrounds and viewpoints, in Congress.

And it’s what put these same children – your kids, who wake up each day and go to school with at least passing thoughts that they may not make it home – on the streets in protest after a massacre at a high school in Parkland, Fla. to demand change.

National firearm- and nonfirearm-related homicides by youths_0

Like it or not, here they come.

These are your next generation of voters, and they have this issue at, or the near the top, of their “change” list.

What they push for, and may get, could be more than any of us bargained for – including someone like myself, who isn’t looking for some radical attempt at change that it will leave people who want to defend their homes unarmed.

It will, pardon the pun, backfire on all of us.

So, maybe the so-called adults in the room need to have an adult conversation about it.

If I were someone who considers myself a responsible gun owner, I would not be angry with those who are seeking gun control. Once my knee de-jerks itself, my angst would be directed toward those who abuse the privilege of responsible gun ownership, which is one of the main untapped sources of ongoing problems with gun deaths — whether through accidental shootings, suicides, domestic disputes, hunting accidents, etc.

There was a time in this country when cars were on the streets without much policing. Eventually, there became a need for traffic laws – stop signs, red lights, speed limits, etc. – to mitigate the damage of an increasing number of cars, built to go faster, on the road.

These laws, which continue to be put in place to this day – while car manufacturers, foreign and domestic, strive to outdo one another with safety features – are there to save every life possible.

People still die in car crashes, yes, but the sheer number of lives saved with seat belts and airbags and DUI checkpoints is unknown.

Stricter gun control laws won’t stop every tragedy, either.

But it would be a step in the right direction.

And that’s a whole lot better than shrugging it off, saying that we are apples and oranges from other countries (Australia, Japan, etc.) who have succeeded in stemming the tide of gun violence.

And it’s a whole lot better than having a second Memorial Day to play “Taps” to remember children who have been gunned down on domestic battlefields.

This column initially appeared in The Times Herald on June 9, 2019.

Peace with a piece

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