Such a well-written piece George, which is no surprise. Regarding the changes of the past fifty years I did grow up in a place with gunshots frequently ringing out on summer nights. And there weren't many folks on the southside of Chicago who bought hunting licenses. While my dad had a .38 Colt Police Special in his lunch box and my mom carried a .38 S&W snubnose in her purse, the idea of somebody shooting up a school, any school in Chicago, even the rough ones, was unfathomable. Even random shootings were rare if they happened at all. Usually the motive was robbery, some sort of crime territory dispute, or a family squabble. Moving out West and into a CSU dorm was liberating - fresh air, warm nights with unlocked doors, and a general sense of peace and security. Yet, there seemed to be a lot more guns, everywhere. Our floor in Aylesworth Hall was basically an armed camp populated by college freshmen and sophomores. Every other room had at least a shotgun or deer rifle and there were one or two guys with handguns for target practice. On Friday and Saturday nights the 3.2 beer saturated the floor and burning sexual frustration afflicted 99 percent of us - fist fights broke out regularly. But not once did anyone think, let alone threaten, to break out the firearms. It just wasn't on our radar. Such a thing didn't even occur to me coming from a city where shots fired in anger were nearly a daily ritual. It didn't even occur to me when a fellow butthead bit my pectoral muscle so hard I had to go get a tetanus shot the next day. Still, despite the low level intensity of the violence then I wouldn't refer to those as the halcyon days. There was plenty of racism and sexism, and homophobia wasn't even a word. The Vietnam War was raging, in the background for most of us (the deranged pectoral biter included), and Richard Nixon had just been elected ensuring the war would go on for at least seven more years. Cops in the inner cities could and frequently did continue to shoot black people without worrying about anyone videotaping their atrocities. So what's so different about now? The firearms are more deadly, for sure, but I think we now suffer a form of mass insanity fed by adrenaline junkie-ism and rapid responses to just about any slight that has made so many of us borderline whackos. Consider that what were once petty conflicts, such as flipping someone off in traffic or a dog soiling a lawn, can and often do erupt in gunfire. Of course there are the handful of lunatics doing their mass shootings but an even larger segment of the population has turned into somewhat of a dueling society. Yes, we need sane gun control in this country, but we also need to find ways to turn down the heat. We need a national awareness campaign and/or some sort of social movement to bring "normal folks" back from the emotional brink.
I'm happy to see that George is still working to influence public policy and in this case, subtly advocating for responsible gun controls from a Western perspective.