Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Old West Is Gone by James Kilkenny


In 1969, I decided that I wasn't going anywhere in school and, though a permanent trip to Montreal seemed pleasant, I wanted the opportunity to see my family once in a while. So I put down my books and went sailing. I joined the Navy. In the Navy, I met several guys who became conscientious objectors to war. Life for them was hard, but they stuck to their beliefs and were given discharges.

I couldn't do that, I really had no beliefs at that time. When I returned home, I wanted to go to college and live in the country. I did, and I earned a degree in education. Through the years I also obtained degrees in special education and administration. Those were not my drivers. I wanted to end stupid wars. I had expert testimony from people who were in wars of necessity or survival. My father was a medical officer who never left Wisconsin, and my father-in-law was combat infantry and a Stars and Stripes reporter from George Patton's army. He went from Africa to Berlin, and had notebooks filled with activities. He never published and never gave permission to write about them, so I don't. Yet, He did think that there were ways around all the destruction, but he was hard put to find out. Then came Vietnam, and it was a strange thing. You'd take a hill, and give it back at night. It was a strange policing action. There were many ways to fix it. Some say that Johnson was in negotiations to end it. Some say Nixon was in negotiations to end it. Problem was Nobody ended it. It dragged on for four years of Nixon's presidency, and its end was anticlimactic.

When I returned in 1972, I wanted to teach social studies, to stress "let's not do that again". However, it fell on deaf ears. The next thing I knew we were invading Grenada and Panama. Then the first Gulf War. Then Afghanistan. Then Iraq. Now, some of us want to bomb Iran. Others want to go after North Korea. It is mind numbing the way we want to get into wars.

Then came an attack in Colorado on a school. Columbine High School was the sight of students, tired of being bullied taking the matter into their own hands. If something happened to them at school, the kids felt they ought to destroy the school. Did we do anything to calm down the fears of students bullied or stop the ability of people to get guns at gun shows? Nah that wasn't necessary in the land of the free. Then another kid walks into an elementary school and methodically murders first and second graders in their classrooms. No change from that. Lots of talk, the president initiated bills that went nowhere because he wasn't the right kind of guy to do that.

I could go through a host of other shootings in churches and hotels and even neighborhoods, doesn't do any good. Then came Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, can you believe those students? They are rallying all of us to stop the sale of military rifles. They are making sense. The nation's political leaders and even some well meaning teachers think that, 'Boy if I had a gun in there, I could've stopped that sucker from killing those kids.'

That's a sentiment. It's not true, but I look at these new bills to make teachers gun marshals at school, where their new mandate besides teaching algebra is to shoot bad children who enter with guns we are afraid to ban. Read the constitution, the Second Amendment of the bill of rights doesn't say that reasonable restrictions can't be made to reduce the type of guns we have. I know that I was naïve to try and stop all war, but we have had bans on assault weapons and all it did was reduce gun deaths. Let's have soldiers have war weapons, farmers and hunters have rifles and gun enthusiasts have guns for protection and for targets. We need to be a little less loopy over guns. The old west is gone.

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