Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Dan Reed 

What can be done after so much death?


Time has passed. The Connecticut community shaken by school shootings of the young is groping its way to healing. Claims fly back and forth from the fringes of American society on gun ownership and regulation. I own guns. I was raised with guns. Guns are a tool, I was taught, and have a place in our lives if used properly.

Saying that, the fear to have military weapons in each person's hands is not in my realm of comprehension. I don't debate the whole subject of guns because any sane discussion goes into the mode — "you want to take our guns away."

The extreme position of the NRA of arming our schools is the direct opposite of its initial formation. It was started in the 1930s to counteract the Prohibition mob violence of the Thompson-toting thugs of that time. Now they advocate everyone owning a version of the Thompson in this period of time.

Many of my friends carry handguns and use them. They obey the current laws. Do I feel safer? No. Many years ago I asked the "Old Ones" — the generation of my grandparents — about their childhood here in this area when places like Automba were where the Wild West really existed. People carried guns and gun violence was a regular occurrence. I asked the question, "Do you think we should have guns carried by most people as was the case in the pioneer and boom period of this area?" The answer came quickly and without hesitation, "No, we don't need to go back there." These are people that lived that life every day with guns and said, "No."

That is as much on the gun debate that I want to share. Someone else beyond me will do or not do something about the issue.

Gun violence is complex. Yes, we are a violent society in some respects. Gun ownership isn't the sole lightning rod to take the heat. There is a pornography of violence in many facets of our entertainment games, our television, and our movies. Somehow, we don't have to be sent off to war or work the poor neighborhoods of our country to see unceasing violence and hatred. We are blanketed by violence in our entertainment. I have experienced death and violent situations overseas. I am a movie nut and I realize on film, multiplied a thousand times plus, I shiver while watching these film versions.

Background checks are the answer, some say. Yes, we can tighten the rules for background checks to cover all gun sales. It may help. But we are hesitant to fund areas of early intervention which would help desperate people, some mentally challenged, from deciding on a violent course of action.

Many of us have worked in the health care field. In truth, people have the right to be sick. They can behave outrageously, not take medications, and act out to endanger themselves or others repeatedly before action is taken. This approach has developed by pressure from the left concerned about a person's right to lead his own lifestyle and the far right which wishes not to pay for any type of intervention program. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

I have watched as early intervention programs have been turned off or crippled by funding restrictions in our very area. Bridge House, early intervention for mentally challenged Northlanders, closed to save money. "Others will pick up the slack more efficiently," well-intentioned government officials said. Waiting periods for help were extended. Struggling people end up living on the streets and many die.

The Domestic Abuse Program in Carlton County was closed. State funding had not come through. Normally, programs such as this are funded by the county for short stretches of time until new funding sources are found. This time it did not. Where do battered woman go and where do men who want to see their children go or how do these people find their way through the legal system? Some struggling programs exist in Duluth. The Volunteer Attorney Program and Legal Aid have both seen their programs slashed.

Does this breed violent situations? Yes. Do people feel helpless? Yes. Are weapons turned to in these situations? Yes. This touches every one of our families at one time or another. Early intervention reduces violence and shelters children and makes our world safer. You will find many notorious shootings could have been averted with early intervention.


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