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To the U.S. Congress and Fellow Citizens,

It boggles the mind to think that it’s taken this long – since Columbine – to have a national debate on citizen access to guns.  Add to that the insanity of much of this debate, such as arming teachers and turning our public schools into fortresses surrounded by guns to keep students safe (remember Fort Hood…13 trained military men killed by 1 handgun), is beyond reason in any alternative universe.  What are we thinking?

As a retired K-12 public school teacher and administrator of 30 plus years, there has never been a time when there was a need for guns in any of the schools I worked in – and I’ve been in rural schools, suburban schools, and inner city schools in Michigan, Ohio, South Carolina, and Minnesota.  Every one of them created a nurturing environment where students felt safe and cared for.  Providing guns and gunmen in schools to keep students safe would be anathema to every student, teacher, counselor, social worker, custodian, principal, educational assistant, and parent that I know.  Safe schools are created by those who work there, who are paying attention and making sure that all students are getting what they need – and developing caring relationships with the parents of those students and the communities in which they live.

The real issue is the mistaken idea that some of us think the Second Amendment of the Constitution gives everyone a right to have a gun.  The words in that Amendment are:  “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”  As conservative Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger once stated:  “The Gun Lobby’s interpretation of the Second Amendment is one of the greatest pieces of fraud – I repeat the word fraud – on the American people by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.  The real purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure that state armies – the militia – would be maintained for the defense of the state.  The very language of the Second Amendment refutes any argument that it was intended to guarantee every citizen an unfettered right to any kind of weapon he or she desires.”

This fraud continues to be perpetuated by the NRA and the members of Congress they own.  It’s time for those of us who still have a grasp on reality to stop this insanity.  We need to support the students who are protesting and demanding action from Congress.  We all need to make these demands.  It’s all very nice that corporations like Walmart have made a decision to stop selling AR15s and not sell to anyone under 21; but why are they selling ANY guns?  I simply can’t wrap my head around this.

In 1982, my husband and I bought a condemned duplex in a diverse neighborhood.  Friends and family thought we were nuts.  There were five drug houses in the block.  Our neighbors were Hmong, Native American, African American, and white, a diversity we were looking for.  During the first three years we lived here, a man was knifed in our front yard.  Our tenant had her purse snatched from her on the front porch.  Our home was broken into and whatever was considered valuable was taken.  Strangers often knocked on the door looking for previous residents who sold drugs.  Nevertheless, we never considered leaving or needing a gun to protect ourselves.  We got to know our neighbors (even the drug dealers) and slowly began to build a community of people who watched out for each other – without guns.  It has taken time, but there are no more drug houses, and most of the other houses have been reclaimed and rehabbed.  And we stayed.  A neighbor snowblows my drive and sidewalk in exchange for my taking care of their menagerie when they go out of town.  Some of us have meals together.  We pick each other up from the airport, or drive one another to a doctor’s appointment.  We chat while bringing out the garbage, shoveling our walks, or working in our gardens.  The block is not as diverse as it once was, but we now have six families with children from infant to teenagers, retired couples, singles of all ages, and 4 families with dogs and cats.  We have six locally owned restaurants within walking distance.  It’s a lovely place to live, and I’m happy to still be here.

Isn’t it time we did this in all our neighborhoods, cities, states, and country?  We need a cultural transformation, not fortresses, guns, and walls.  These are the things that are nuts.  We have the potential to change the gun culture we live in.  And each of us can, and must, do whatever we can to make this happen.  Let’s start where we live.



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