Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Guns, shooting rampages and bullies

For years now, people have been discussing the gun issue and the "right to bear arms". Is it a God-given right? Or should guns for the general public be outlawed completely? How many innocent children and adults have to die before something is done to solve this epidemic?

On Wednesday, March 11th, at the Albertville school in Winnenden, Germany, a 17-year-old gunman dressed all in black brought a gun into his school and opened fire. He killed 2 boys, 7 girls and 3 female teachers.

The gunman, later identified as Tim Kretschmer, then killed a gardener at the clinic next door and hijacked a car, ordering the driver to take him 40K out of town. After the driver jumped out of the car, Kretschmer ran into a car dealership where he shot a sales rep and a customer. His final act? He turned the gun on himself.

Kretschmer had a murder list in his home, a list of people who had wronged him. He'd gotten the handgun from his father's collection. It hadn't been locked away with the others. It was left in a drawer where anyone could have access to it. And someone did, and look at the deaths it has caused. Should the father be charged?

On the same day, in Samson, Alabama, 28-year-old Michael McLendon, an ex-cop, set his mother's house on fire, killing his mother and her dog. Next he shot and killed five others, including the wife and 18-month-old baby of a local sheriff's deputy.

McLendon randomly shot at townspeople as he drove through the streets, then he killed his own grandmother. In the end, he killed 10 people before turning the gun on himself at the metals plant in the town of Geneva, where he had worked.

Some reports say that he, too, had left a murder list. It is suggested that his parent's bitter divorce caused McLendon to lash out at his own family. There are reports that he had issues at his former jobs, problems with some of his co-workers. Was he a victim of bullying? Did he suffer from depression?

Some questions will never be answered, but one thing is for sure in both cases: these two men were seriously messed up and no one noticed. Both men felt that others had done them wrong; neither of them got help for their depression. These are the common emotional elements in rampage shooters.

The other common element is that both men had access to guns. The handguns used in both cases were apparently registered legally. The assault rifles that McLendon also carried were illegal. This tells us that it doesn't matter if people carry permits; a weapon is a weapon.

I get why people in some countries and cities feel they need a gun to protect themselves. I get wanting to protect your family and children. I get why some people feel it necessary to have a gun in the house; it makes them feel safer. But at what cost, people? At the cost of innocent and young lives? How many more unnecessary deaths like these do there have to be before people start realizing how dangerous it is to have a gun in the house, especially one that is not locked up securely? And why is it that depressed or bullied people feel the necessity to get revenge by killing innocent people? Get help!

I was bullied as a kid, and in this day and age that seems to mean I can grab a weapon and gun down my enemies. Sure there were days in my youth where I imagined pushing my bully down a flight of stairs or smacking her in the head or worse. I am sure I even wished her dead at times. That's how kids think; expecially ones who are being bullied. Mostly I imagined the day I'd be able to stand up to her.

I never had to. Eventually she moved on to someone else, then I moved away. I bumped into her years later and she inspired only one emotion from me--pity. While my life had continually gotten better, hers had gotten worse. I heard rumors about her life and I began to understand why she had acted the way she had in school. She was actually the inspiration for "Annie", a character in my novel Whale Song.

My message to those who feel they're being bullied or mistreated: It WILL pass. Years from now you'll barely remember it. You'll get over it; yes, maybe with counseling or therapy, but you'll get over it. Years from now you'll realize that the school bully taught you something about yourself. Mine taught me to stand up for myself and not let people walk all over me. That lesson, while traumatic at the time, has come in handy over the past few years, and not once have I felt the need for a gun to solve my problems. Time and forgiveness heals all things.

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
bestselling author

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am all for capital punishment. I am for exectuing these people who commit violence upon others for their own personal shortcomings. if they admit or are caught on video killing others, then they should be put to death. Simple as that.