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Trying To Make Sense of the Unimaginable

A plea to gun owners and a plea for sanity in such tragic times.

Inevitably you've heard about it or read about it. It's impossible to not know about the deplorable violence that happened in Colorado over the weekend. Like many, when I first heard about the Aurora theater shooting, I was heartbroken.

Anyone would and should be. A random, senseless act took the lives of 12 people and injured 58 more. I was saddened that, as I took in a country music festival in Wisconsin with some of my closest friends and family members, just across the country, there were people who would never get to see people they love and care about again.

Unfortunately, as most things do, the story changed. People took sides: the pro-gun people to one side. The anti-gun people to another.

I will state right now that I am anti-gun, and I was terrified and offended, then enraged, by the pro-gun people who don't understand that a semi-automatic rifle was used with a specially purchased magazine to hold 100 rounds to ruin countless lives.

Pro-gun people on my Facebook wall were going so far as to post stories claiming that the entire incident was a hoax, that people were killed to boost the visability of the movie.

Allow me to editorialize for a moment: If you really believe this, then you truly don't deserve to be my friend or even someone whom I want to ever associate myself with. It's a sick and evil thing to say and believe in. This movie was set to be one of the biggest box office hits of the summer. People have been hyping the movie for nearly a year.

I also know that the people writing these stories probably don't believe them, but that they are pro-gun advocates trying to change the narrative. Trying to change the story.

But none of that matters. Nor should it. And it's hard to write about this, I can tell you that. I might be new to writing for Patch, but I have seen the vitriol in the comments sections. People acting with swagger in anonymity, able to say horrible, hurtful things because someone else doesn't agree with their stance.

I try not to be heavy handed in my writing. I really don't. It's not fair to the victims and the people that knew and cared about them. My feelings have gone back to sadness.

Mostly, I realize that my words, themselves, might not change anything. As President Obama said yesterday, "Words are inadequate." It's true. We can't say anything to magically make people come back to life.

In the same way, i'm not going to magically say something today to make every gun owner reading this lay down their weapon and walk away. There will be a million excuses. I've already heard them all. I've heard them from other family members.

I understand why gun owners want their weapons. I understand the collectors who have taken it as a hobby to hold pieces of history in their hands and say, proudly, that they own them. I've spent two decades collecting sports memoralbilia and feel the same way about some of my prized possessions.

I understand the home owners who keep a handgun in their house as a form or protection. If you do, please, please, keep it away from children.

I understand the hunters. Hunting is a tradition that dates back to before guns were ever invented. It's also a hobby. Plus, hunters are some of the most knowledgable gun owners I've met. They know every working piece of their gun and they treat the gun with respect, only using it in the hunt.

I don't, on the other hand, understand conceal-and-carry advocates, nor do I understand people who need to own semi-automatic rifles.

The popular thing to say has been "If someone in the audience had a gun, this would have never happened." There are two ways to look at this statement. A) the person wouldn't have shot up a movie theater if he thought someone was going to shoot back. Or, B) someone would have shot him once he started shooting.

On the former, perhaps in some situations, this is true, but the telltale signs have been emerging that this person was going to do something. The shooter was going to do something despicable and irrational regardless of who was holding a gun in that theater.

On the latter, you must all stop saying this, if that is your meaning. Guns give people irrational confidence. I'm not sure when everyone who holds a gun decided they were a combination of Clint Eastwood and John Wayne, but you CANNOT say that you would have been able to stand up in the chaos, lay aim, and take out a person firing at you.

Nobody knows how they will react to a situation like that. Gun owners, though, seem to have a collective feeling that just because they can hit a target in a gun range, that this would have been no problem. It's not true.

Again, I'm trying not to go too over the top on this, but the things pro-gun people have been saying in the days since the incident make me believe that most people shouldn't have guns.

Again, if you are offended by this, I apologize to you for my beliefs. Tear me to shreds in the comments section if you want.

But first, I want you to do what I did when I got back in the state today. I gave my 6-month-old niece a kiss. It's all I've thought about for two days. How lucky I am that she is in my life, and how quickly that can go away.

Find a loved one today. Let them know how much they mean to you, and how much you care about them. Nobody is promised tomorrow. For some, all we have is today. Think about all the people in Colorado who never got a chance to do that.

It's people, not things, that matter. It's courage to stand up against something you know to be wrong. It's about words saving lives. Not bullets. Most importantly: It's about taking the time to enjoy the people you have in your life as much as you can, while you can.

It's about being so lucky to wake up every day knowing that there is someone else waking up that cares about you, that depends on you, that means the world to you. It's about trying to change the world, even in your own little way.

And for me, if my words resonate with at least one person, then I've done more than a million bullets ever could.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Kelly July 26, 2012 at 03:05 PM
I didn't say it was why he went on a murderous rampage. I said it was a perfect example of why we should be focusing on the economy and jobs. I believe my official reasoning was, "The dude was crazy."
Oswegoraised July 26, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Like you Brandon, I have heard and LISTENED to both sides of the fence. I myself have never owned a gun even though, like yourself, I have family that do. It's just my choice. However, I want it to remain MY choice. If for some reason in the future I decide I want one, I want to be able to own it. Not have that freedom taken from me. The bad people will always find a way to get one if they desire. Drugs are illegal and look at all the users. It's the person not the gun that's the problem.PERIOD.
Brandon Andreasen July 26, 2012 at 09:00 PM
Actually, not PERIOD. I doubt anyone has ever died from a bullet being thrown at them by a human hand. You need a mechanism by which to fire that bullet. That is a gun. Steve has done more, and very thoughtfully at that, to prove that guns are actually counter productive to safety. They do more damage than good. Yes, the bad guys will always get their hands on guns. And so will good guys. And you know who else will: bad guys who think they are good guys. The fact is, nobody can see into the future. Pro-Gun people can't even see into the present. Gun owners live in the past, thus their hiding behind the second amendment. Gun owners, and when I say that, I obviously don't mean hunters/collectors, seem to believe with all their hearts that someday, everyone is going to be robbed, shot at, something. I choose to have faith in humanity and believe I won't. Call me naive. But i'd rather die unarmed than accidently kill someone I love because I think i'm defending them in a bad situation. It takes more courage to stand behind words than the barrel of a gun.
Edmund Burke July 27, 2012 at 01:46 AM
You, my friend, have never been shot at. Those are big words, but worse than naive, you are ignorant. "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." It seems that you would have good men do (or be capable of doing) nothing in the face of evil.
Justin Bronzell August 05, 2012 at 01:39 PM
The Second Amendment clearly states that as an American Citizen your right is to carry a gun. If your anti-gun then don't carry a gun. That's your choice. But don't go pushing your dislike for guns down other people's throats. Statistics show that crime goes up when gun ownership goes down. They have also shown the inverse, that crime goes down when gun ownership goes up. And besides that, it's just common logic that criminals can get guns no matter what laws or restrictions are in place. So why would you want to make it harder or impossible for the average joe to carry a gun to protect themselves? Not to long ago two armed teenagers tried to rob an Internet Cafe. A 70 year-old carrying a pistol (which he had all the permits for) shot at them and ran them off. Police caught them not to longer after that. The old man didn't even hit either of them, just shot at them. And that's how easy it is to stop a criminal: carry your own gun to counter their weapon. Risk of death is a great stopping factor against criminals. And if your afraid of somebody slipping through the background checks and still getting a gun? Why don't you go get your permits and carry your own gun so that if anything does happen, you can defend yourself? I think what happened in Colorado was horrible. I do not think that it calls for stricter gun laws.

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