Note: This is a guest post by CCDL member Lou Carpenter.
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, working, shopping, dining, motorcycling, fishing, hunting, and drinking coffee. I too, have personal connections to some of the 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 issue 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 concealed firearm. I’ve worked at your homes, conducted business, made small talk, joked and laughed, enjoyed friendships, frequented shops and restaurants- all while I had a handgun in my pocket. You didn’t know that I legally 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 ‘violent’ or anything else. I was just any other guy out of the many that you would interact with throughout the course of the day. I felt respected, and welcomed.
Recently however, in light of the relentless and undeniable attack on our 2nd 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 tens of millions of other 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. What is, is an untreated and unrestricted psychotic. 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 lie in adequately identifying, treating, and caring for those that don’t have the ability to think and behave as responsibly and rationally as the rest of the community.
How about letting go of the anti-gun discourse for a little while, it’s not going to prevent another incident. Let’s all work together to understand and treat the mental health issues that were the real cause of the tragedy, that is where we might realize a measurable and lasting impact.