Too Free?

I have to write about this.

I am in my ninth year as a High School teacher. I’m privileged to teach in a private Lutheran school where, at the foundation, we are not only able to give glory to our God on a daily basis…but we’re encouraged to do so. I am an ignorant Lutheran, who has a lot to learn about my savior and WHY anyone would ever want to save a pathetic little worm like me. (Let alone sacrifice their only son to ensure my victory after death.) There’s is a lot I count on in my faith…a lot that I put my trust in…and a lot I don’t understand. Those fuzzy areas are always at the forefront of my mind…and I think it’s okay for me to question them, so long as I don’t stop looking for the answer in scripture and in my own journey. (And, for the record, there hasn’t been a question about my faith that I’ve had, that HASN’T been answered yet to my satisfaction.)

“For every million gun owners that utilize their firearms CORRECTLY and within the law….there will always be one senseless, compassionless coward who will take innocent lives with one. Isn’t that enough to want to make some better laws about gun control, so that this won’t happen again? Call me ignorant…call me a poor political activist…but I think so.”

I am also the least political person I know. I understand government…but I just don’t like it sometimes. I also don’t like how government pits people against people simply because they have differing views. I always viewed our country as the great “household” of the world. Everyone is welcome…and while we don’t have to like one another all the time, we do love each other. And even if big brother and big sister can’t see eye to eye on something…if that house is on fire…they drop their petty differences and help each other, so that the whole place doesn’t burn to the ground.

Today…through a senseless, cowardly act of violence, 27 people are dead, most of them kindergarden-aged children. Today this country’s “house” is on fire. (And don’t even begin to rant about how this isn’t nearly as bad as Hurricane Sandy and Katrina and 9-11 and Colombine….give me a break…what, do you want to be right, based on statistics? Fine…you’re right! Can we move on please?) I’m talking about one man…with a weapon…open-firing on children. I’m talking about THIS ONE incident. Am incident where a man obtained a firearm and used it to kill other human beings. Can’t we at least see eye-to-eye on the fact that a gun is a coward’s weapon?

As a teacher, I fear for the future of my students and students across the country…I fear for this generation of thinking….I fear for the desensitization of human emotion and compassion that would otherwise make a significate mark on the conscience of a man who would want to pick up loaded weapons, strap a bullet-proof vest to his chest, and open fire on a school full of children. I SIMPLY CANNOT WRAP MY HEAD AROUND IT.

Furthermore…I cannot understand ANYONE who would look me in the eye and say, you can’t blame a lack of gun control for this tragedy. Too much freedom put a massive amount of firearms in this gunman’s hands. I think America is brilliant. I salute those who are in the military (they are brave men and women…far braver than me)…stand in front of danger every day…and I will NEVER ever (even remotely) insinuate that the freedoms that these men and women fight for every day…standing at our border so that we can sleep at night….should be put into question. But I can’t understand how we can sit back and say that everything is perfectly fine in this country with regards to gun control. Time and time again we bear witness to tragedies like this…and time and time again, people say it’s an isolated incident and the good use of firearms WAY out weight the bad or misusage of them. I say….PHOOEY! I guarantee you if this happened in Las Vegas…down the road from where you work…or at the school where you send your kids….right now you’d be overwrought with emotion. You wouldn’t be thinking about the defense FOR the right to own a gun in this country. You’d be thinking about the reality of the situation and how it pertains to real human beings who have to face a sorrow-filled Christmas…an empty bedroom…unanswered questions….lost hopes and dreams. Put down your agenda for two seconds and see the END RESULT of what CAN happen when everyone has the right to own a loaded weapon.

I don’t care who you voted for and frankly I’m not even interested in your stand on gun control. All I’m saying is that I nearly had my stomach turn just now…sitting in my living room and watching a TV commercial for a local gun show that’s coming to Vegas…and watching the camera pan across the rows of tables holding thousands of guns…ready to be purchased by whoever. If it can happen in a peaceful, non-violent city in Connecticut….merciful heavens, it can happen here. I know I’m a school teacher…so perhaps my viewpoint is a bit skewed, but in the big picture…shouldn’t we be more worried about bad guys on the outside coming in and doing bad things?  At the risk of sounding like a “woe is me” statement…teaching is the most thankless job in the world…and the thought of a madman bringing a gun into a sanctuary that I am very thankful to share with children I love…makes me scared…and sad. I hope something can be done.

It just doesn’t seem right to me. My dog could walk into a room…walk past a gun sitting on the floor….step on it….and kill a man. A baby could innocently pick up a gun…innocently touch the trigger….and kill a man. A gun could fall out of a lockbox, hit the floor, accidentally go off…and kill a man. And yet we put these volatile weapons in the hands of anyone that wants one…people with agendas….people with warped, twisted viewpoints….people who have drifted away from reality and have no sense of awareness or compassion. For every million gun owners that utilize their firearms CORRECTLY and within the law….there will always be one senseless, compassionless coward who will take innocent lives with one. Isn’t that enough to want to make some better laws about gun control, so that this won’t happen again? Call me ignorant…call me a poor political activist…but I think so.

All I can do is hope for a better tomorrow. How can you help? Well, perhaps drop what you believe to be others’ perception of you, and pray. Pray for the families, friends and community affected by this tragedy. The only other thing I might suggest is perhaps find a new, better way to improve on your own self-awareness. Look people in the eye when you talk to them. Make a genuine connection. Attempt to contribute to the GOOD in people instead of holding grudges or finding satisfaction in the laugh you received after retorting that glib remark about someone. If we all try to be a little bit better (whatever the hell that means)….then I think we might be able to at least talk about how we can make tomorrow better, without getting caught up in the agendas and why ours is “so right.”

Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow and feel differently about this…assuming that I can sleep tonight. But, if you can, in good conscience, put your head on your pillow tonight feeling pretty darn good about how we as a country determine who should be able to own firearms…then sweet dreams.

I know I’ll get a bunch of comments defending the other side. Here’s the thing…that’s fine. I understand and respect that you have a viewpoint. Say that I’m wrong…I’m cool with that. But please try to understand, I’m talking from my heart here. Not my brain. I’m sure there is a LOT about government I don’t understand. But my heart hurts…and I’m outraged…and I can’t understand why we’re not THROWING OURSELVES at a better solution to the problem.

I’m not saying do away with the right to bare arms. I’m just saying…we need to make the right for someone to be afforded the opportunity to do so, more efficient. TWENTY CHILDREN…SEVEN ADULTS. I just don’t know how many more wake-up calls we need.


4 Responses to “Too Free?”

  1. Mr. Ball,

    I feel your pain about this horrible tragedy. I believe there should be reform. I believe that security in our schools should be so much better.Unfortunately, the evil people in this world will find a way to do evil no matter what our laws are. With all evil, God can use it to draw people together. I have to hold on to that. There is a painful lesson in this. We have no idea when our last day is or our loved ones . So I agree with you that we can try and be the best that we can be to each other. We can do what we can to make the world better. We can trust that good will prevail over evil. We have to trust God even in our darkest hours.

  2. Says:

    Thanks Eric, I don’t know if I could have put it into better words.
    The ONE simple FACT that the NRA wants you to overlook is that when the 2nd amendment was written the only gun available was a single shot muzzle loaded musket.

  3. Cheryl Ruettiger Says:

    Erik, you have an amazing heart! I feel the same. We are irresponsible to make these weapons available to be put in the hands of very sick people. There is not any good that can come from this decision. We are allowing the rights and lives of innocent people to be taken by giving rights to people who destroy.

  4. Your not wrong son, I agree with you. Nothing short of zero tolerance will statisfy me, but sadly, that still would not stop all incidents.

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