By Veronika Benson
Born and raised in rural Maine, surrounded by the forests and lakes which host thousands of hunters and fisherman each year, I developed an appreciation for hunting as a recreation. As a result of this, I say to weapons enthusiasts: keep your guns (rifles, shotguns, bows, arrows, and handguns) if this is what you need to continue your sport, or protect your families. Your position is a rational one. What is not rational is anyone other than a military or law enforcement professional being allowed to purchase an assault weapon. There is no defensible, legitimate purpose for this reality.
In December of 2012, precious five and six year old children lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary, a place that should have been as safe as their own homes. Last week, fourteen teenagers and three adults were murdered in cold blood at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. The exponential fear and despair these victims endured in their last moments is incomprehensible. No child should have to breathe their last breath in such unimaginable fear and horrific pain.
And there is the anguish of the survivors to consider. When someone is murdered, or dies in a preventable accident, those who loved them may never stop asking ‘why?’ The empathy associated with having lived through this kind of loss is what compels me to ask everyone reading this to be compassionate, be open-minded. The human brain is a marvelous instrument with a multitude of notes which never evolve into melodies. I believe we can all stretch our thinking beyond its normal limitations, if we are open to this. So, I urge you to take just a moment to place your feet in the shoes of those who must walk in the reality of never-ending pain — every single day for the rest of their lives. I realize this is not an easy place to go, but it is a generous one.
As we go forward, let us not allow this to happen again; or at the very least let us do everything in our power to prevent it. Not one innocent person should die at the hands of a mass murderer brandishing an assault weapon. Not one parent should have to identify the remains of a slaughtered child, or watch as a tiny coffin is lowered into the ground. If we continue to permit access to assault weapons, then it’s not only the shooters who have children’s blood on their hands.
Australia and Scotland have had remarkable success in stopping mass shootings. Why can’t we take similar actions? As citizens of this nation, is it not the greatest of all responsibilities to keep our children safe? Other weapons can be used to kill, this is true, but nothing is more difficult to defend, or creates more casualties, than out-of-nowhere rapid fire power. Our Forefathers did not pen the second amendment with assault weapons or bump stocks in mind; nor would they have chosen to accept money from special interest groups in lieu of protecting our most vulnerable. Every human being deserves a chance to live and thrive in this place we call the United States of America, therefore we must try to preserve and protect them all, in every conceivable way possible. We owe this to one another, and especially to our children — for they are the most innocent, and they are our future.
The writer lives in the town of Washington