It’s Town Meeting Day Voting in Woodstock. Polls are open now through 7pm. One of the measures you will be asked about is whether to encourage the State Legislature to make changes in law in the name of gun control. We found, this morning, that it IS possible to have civil, good discussion among those who have been “pitted” against eachother in a debate often ruled by extremes.
You see here three individuals: Woodstock Police “Officer Jen”, Blogger Julia Carlisle and Gun Control Advocate Bob Williamson. We all agreed one of the most important components in this highly charged issue is EDUCATION. Everyone should educate themselves better about both weapons and the Second Amendment. We three, in this photograph, all AGREED.
Officer Jen is a strong proponent of education while strongly supporting the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms. She is inviting everyone who wants to learn more about guns, for their own knowledge, to come on out and attend a competition this Saturday at the Gun Club.
For more information on the .22 Rifle match at the Woodstock Rifle & Pistol Club visit: http://woodstockgunclub.com/wintermatch.pdf for full details.
This event is open to the public. If you are attending please remember to come equipped with hearing and vision protection, and of course the appropriate winter attire, as it is an outside event.
We think it’s important — no matter where you stand on this issue — to understand about guns, gun safety, responsible use and understand that no one wants anyone to die as a result of improper or irresponsible gun handling. In any case, we are ALL invited to the 22 Rifle Competition this Saturday.
In the meantime, go vote. It’s kinda’ fun out there on the walkway where, believe it or not, Vermonters can and do continue to have civil conversations about highly-charged topics. BTW, the Court House Ballot is a separate piece of the paper and OMG, the regular ballot is TWO PAGES. Jeez. However, we are glad to have the opportunity to vote individually on separate articles.
We also have discovered a bit more about Bob Williamson who wrote about his own reasons for gun control advocacy in USA Today last December 12th , a column about having been close to a school shooting many years ago:
As I have looked into those darling faces of the children who were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I’m reminded of my own experience more than 24 years ago.
My two daughters, then age 8 and 5, survived an armed assault by a 30-year-old troubled woman,Laurie Dann, in their elementary school in Winnetka, Ill., which like Newtown, Conn., is a sleepy suburb of a metropolis. That day, May 20, 1988, I sat on a commuter train in Chicago, coming home from work and listening to my Walkman radio as another nightmare with guns unspooled. Without a cell phone, I had to sit for 45 minutes and hope for the best as I willed that painfully slow train to speed up.
As I stepped out onto the platform to embrace my wife, the warm spring day felt as cold as January. I learned that our daughters were safe, but one little boy was dead and five other children were wounded. The shooter was still at large in the neighborhood.
A police helicopter hovered above. A welter of emotions raged inside me as guilt throbbed with this fact: My kids were spared, but another child had been killed. Dann was eventually found dead of a self-inflicted wound. That night, I realized I couldn’t undo what had happened, but I vowed to do all that made sense to prevent the next one.
Experts say the closer you are to the epicenter of violence, the longer the healing process. Our daughters heard the gunshots, the cries, the running feet, but fortunately they did not see the killer in the deadly act. They were spared the long-term trauma of some of their schoolmates. Yes, children heal, and adults do, too, but memories and scars linger.
Solace came to me while working for sensible gun violence prevention. My path led me to the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, where I chaired several annual walks and created a contest for children whose words and pictures give voice to the unspeakable. Contests and walks are good; they empower and validate the weakest among us. But until we adults demand more from our lawmakers — and ourselves — our children will remain in the line of fire.
I understand the views of gun owners, as I grew up with guns and loved target shooting. I firmly believe in the Second Amendment, all 26 words, but I also believe James Madison had no idea his words would be twisted to allow rapid fire combat-style assault rifles, armor-piercing bullets and massive ammo clips to be sold 24/7 over the Internet.
The time for debating the National Rifle Association is over. They won that debate. That’s why these tragedies keep happening.
It’s time now for all of us — responsible gun owners and responsible citizens in general — to ask our lawmakers to do something smart:
- Ban high-capacity ammo clips and assault weapons.
- Fully fund the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives so the National Instant Check System works.
- Require all states to share mental health information with federal authorities, so high-risk individuals can’t buy guns. And beef up support for mental health clinicians.
- Check the backgrounds of all gun buyers. Forty percent of all firearm sales occur without any check at all.
Reasonable people can agree on reasonable solutions. Assault rifles and 33-round bullet clips don’t pass that test, nor will bans on them infringe on anyone’s Second Amendment rights.
Be sure, too, to secure that gun you have at home. It could be used against you, as one firearm was in Newtown, Conn., against its owner, Nancy Lanza, by her son, Adam, who then went on his rampage. Guns alone aren’t always the answer, but they will always be part of a deadly problem until we get smarter.
I will always remember the valor of those extraordinary teachers and administrators who laid down their lives in a school to protect their children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Remember them as we stand at this fork in the road.
Bob Williamson now lives in South Woodstock, Vt.