To the Editor:
There is one other town between my home and Newtown. Through the years, I’ve spent a lot of time in the Newtown/Sandy Hook community, through friendships, work, shopping, dining, and socializing. I too, have personal connections to victims of the senseless tragedy that a madman committed that day. My prayers, condolences, and best wishes have been, and continue to be offered to those that are suffering from that unthinkable act of evil and violence.
I am also a gun owner. A legal, licensed, law-abiding, responsible gun owner. I belong to several firearms related organizations. Before now, you wouldn’t have known that though, as firearms issues have always been a matter of contention, and I had felt that it was a private matter for me. I’ve frequented Newtown’s businesses, dined in their restaurants, built some of the more affluent homes in the community, and spent countless hours drinking coffee – all with a legal, concealed firearm. You didn’t know that I carried a firearm, I didn’t advertise it, and we all got along wonderfully. You welcomed me, accepted me, shook my hand, and asked me to keep coming back. You didn’t call me a “gun nut” or “militant” or “crazy” or “a terrorist,’ or anything else. I felt respected, and welcomed.
Recently however, in light of the relentless and undeniable attack on our Second Amendment rights, I’ve made a decision to be more vocal and open about my beliefs.
I wore my holster on my hip.
Instantly, the community viewed me differently. And while I understand the emotions that fuel those feelings, I believe they are misdirected. I am not Adam Lanza. My firearms have never committed any crimes. I am still the same sane, responsible, upstanding, law-abiding member of the community that I have always been. Nothing has changed, I am the same man I was before.
A gun did not cause Newtown’s tragedy that terrible day. A madman did. He murdered his own mother before lashing out at the community’s most innocent and defenseless members. Insanity was the catalyst that fueled those horrific events, not firearms. The failure to adequately address a young man’s obvious and apparent mental health issues allowed the unthinkable to occur. It wasn’t the rifle’s fault. It wasn’t the fault of my firearms, or those of my friends. It wasn’t the fault of the millions of other responsible gun owners across our nation.
Judging me, categorizing me, and vilifying me for my firearm is narrow minded and unfair. I am not the cause of your grief. A gun is not the cause of your grief. That is the uncomfortable truth that we all need to face. As with other recent tragedies, firearms didn’t kill that day, a madman did. The answers that will make a difference lie in adequately identifying, treating, and caring for those that don’t have the ability to think and behave as responsibly, and as rationally, as the rest of the community, there is where we can realize a measurable and lasting impact.
Shelton August 14, 2013