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Gun violence must be addressed

Three months from now the 50-year milestone of my service as a Marine combat veteran in the Vietnam War will come to pass. It will also serve as the jump-off for four female members of my extended family to visit Vietnam for the purpose of visiting the battleground (Hue) where their eldest brother/uncle and many of my friends died during the Tet Offensive of 68 and 69.

I’m father to four (two girls/two boys). The oldest just turned 40 and the youngest 14. I’m also the owner of an AR-15, and my government can pry it from my cold dead hands when that time comes to pass; because I trust it a lot less now than I did 50 years ago. I’ve taught all of my children how to shoot, hunt and be respectful of the inherent power of guns. All that said, I am distressed at the current and recurring level of gun violence occurring in our society and specifically around schools. I cannot help but notice, that most of this violence is being conducted by young angry white men, few if any of which, have had any military service.

Both my father and adopted dad are WWII veterans. I can even remember as a 10-year-old (1959) visiting a friend’s basement in Chicago to ogle at the BAR and 30-caliber tripod mounted machine gun his father had stored in their basement. But you never heard of, much less even had the types of senseless gun massacres in their time that we see today. Why’s that?

The axiom follow the money may be very appropriate here. The money that goes to gun manufacturers, the NRA and the politicians that so blindly adhere to their call. Another lesser but equally important money venue might be the producers and promoters of all the violence plagued video games, Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty to name but a few.

We have Democrats for the most part blaming the accessibility of guns (true to an extent) and we have Republicans decrying the difference and blaming mental health (also true to an extent); meanwhile those in the middle, students, parents of students and all in-between have to suffer the anxiety and pain of a plague that seemingly has no end. It’s time to end the excuses and deal with the issue before even one more tragedy has to occur.

It’s time to do better background checks and close gun purchase loopholes, it’s time to prohibit such accessories as bump-stocks and perhaps the sale of/possession of semi-automatic rifles to anyone other than law enforcement officers and ex-members of the military. It’s also time to fund healthcare for all so that mental health care is available to those people that supposedly keep popping us as the perpetrators of the current plague of gun violence. It is also time the gaming industry took some responsibility for creating and promoting the senseless slaughter of human beings and other types of life in video games. After all, if we are what we eat, the corollary we are what we see and act out is appropriate. I also think that it is time we introduce national service and or the draft (two years), with no exclusions save the mentally disabled, because a population that serves each other will have that much more regard for its own. The latter should/ could be coupled with a paid for college education or trade school after the term of national service/ draft is served. Another purpose for the latter is so that the rich and the politicians have some skin (their children) in the game. The occurrence of gun violence is all our responsibility and it’s long past time we addressed this matter. Anyone in politics or thinking otherwise is only an enabler abetting this fester in our society.

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