An American problem we just can’t seem to solve

Second Amendment

The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer:

A friend told me that the words “guns,” “children” and “school” should never be in the same sentence. That comment jogged my memory. Way in the back of my mind I remembered something … so I got out a copy of my high school yearbook; Catalina High School, 1959 edition.

Sure enough, on a page right across from a photo of the Future Homemakers of America and underneath the Ski Club was the Junior Rifle Club. The black and white picture featured 29 well-scrubbed nice-looking teens and an adult advisor. Fifteen boys, 14 girls and Mr. Kuhn. I scanned the caption and recognized classmate Lee Seagondollar. I sent him an email and asked about the club.

He explained that you could bring your own rifle, or if you didn’t have one, the school would supply it. They met every day of the week for practice at the range located in the basement below the vocational classrooms. They had “postal” matches with Tucson High, where they would send their targets to the other school for inspection to declare a winner.

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They only shot targets, there was nothing about hunting. And, you could buy your ammunition in the school bookstore. Imagine, ammo for sale right there on campus! A box of 500 bullets was $5. A penny a piece. Now that’s a good deal.

He commented that apparently it all changed after the Columbine shootings. I looked online at some recent school yearbooks … no more rifle clubs. Thanks, Lee, for giving me a look at a time in our innocent past.

Guns and rifles were for target practice. Targets with bullseyes. No outlines of people, because we didn’t consider in those days that folks would want to shoot one another. Sure, some sportsmen hunted animals in the wild. They observed the laws, only went during hunting season and had licenses.

In 5th grade summer camp I remember shooting targets with a 22 single shot rifle. At the University of Arizona in the early 60s, ROTC was mandatory for graduation. In Old Main they had a rifle range and I did some shooting there. That was the last time I ever pulled a trigger.

Now I read about 18-year-old kids able to buy weapons of war at their local gun shop. If they have mental problems they can go shoot humans with them … and many at one time. No more single shot 22s with paper targets. Now real people. It is hard to imagine.

We Americans are great at solving problems. When I was a kid nobody wore helmets when riding a bike. Now it seems every child has one. Seatbelts in cars are mandatory, saving lives. Toddlers have to be strapped into special car seats. You don’t see a dozen little ones bouncing around in the bed of pickup truck. Infants pajamas must be fire retardant.

We’ve reduced the rate of cancer deaths with a cultural change in smoking habits. Anti-smoking campaigns, health warnings and higher taxes have done the job despite the protestations of the big tobacco industry lobby.

Diseases have been victims of American know-how. Polio was once feared by all parents; now it has pretty much been wiped out.

But, the scourge of gun violence grows to pandemic levels, unabated. Why have we become helpless to stop these horrible mass murders? Have we lost our will? Is the NRA more powerful than the tobacco industry or even the government? Or is it strictly because of that seemingly sacred and untouchable Second Amendment?

In the past we always had solutions. Abe Lincoln kept the states together. Hitler tried for world domination and we crushed his plans. We wanted to land people on the moon and did. But, this gun thing … we just don’t seem to be able to come up with the answer. Come on America, certainly we can figure this one out.

Follow these steps to easily submit a letter to the editor or guest opinion to the Arizona Daily Star.

Lindstrom is a member of The Arizona Broadcaster’s Assn. Hall of Fame. He is a lecturer/writer, now retired in Oro Valley.

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