I worked for one exhilarating year at Eastgate Elementary School, in Bellevue, Washington. (1977/78) Darlene and I used to breakfast every Friday morning, before school, at Denny's. I remember two things distinctly. While I tucked into pancakes with syrup, Darlene would choose a hamburger for the protein... And Bill, a State Trooper whom we breakfasted with, wore a gun. Properly holstered, but nevertheless an item of morbid fascination for me.
I had never been anywhere close to a gun before, and exercised a preference for sitting on the OTHER side of it!
I am neither for or against guns, anymore than I am for or against pitchforks, or ploughshares, come to that, and I have been reluctant to comment on the terrible massacre of the innocents at New Town, Conneticut. Better to weep, than attempt to make sense where sense cannot be found.
And yet, and yet. I listen to the debate over gun ownership with growing dismay. Who in their right mind would want to own a military-grade assault weapon? Such people call forth exactly the same reaction as I give when a souped up Porsche cuts me up on the B1425 - Imagine it, I'll not own up to it...
I want to get beyond dismay, disbelief, apprehension - every feeling called forth by the gun culture which is far more of a threat to most Americans than the Taliban - and grope towards a new way of thinking about this issue that won't bring us back to yelling at one another.
This is what I think:
There's no talking to nutters, and probably no easy way of stopping them getting guns. In perpetuating the two most recent tragedies, both murderes used guns legally obtained by someone
Sensible people own guns because it is legal and acceptable to do so. Let's work on making it less acceptable to sensible people. Like picking your nose in public.
It may be your right to own a gun. Generously and vocally choose not to.
Distance yourself from gun owners - statistically speaking, you're safer.
Look at the rating offered by the NRA for your representatives. Campaign and vote for those with an 'F' rating.
Invite your faith community to regard the ownership of weapons as anathema to the Prince of Peace. And talk about it. Get it up there with abortion and marriage.
Turning the other cheek, my friend, makes reaching for the hand gun pretty much an impossibility. Unless you have it strapped to your head, of course.