Mike McKibbin

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March 6, 2013
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It's about the bad apples

One of the truer sayings you learn as you grow is "one bad apple will spoil the whole bunch."

In my teen days, The Osmonds even sang a song about it. (No, I wasn't really an Osmonds fan, but back then, you couldn't avoid them on Top 40 radio.)

Anyway, that saying often comes to mind when I read or hear about something someone did that kills and hurts a lot of people and forces others to take steps in response.

The ultimate instance was 9-11. Think of all the changes this country and much of the world went through afterwards.

And we will always remember.

I was again reminded of the saying on Friday, when I drove up to Graham Mesa Elementary School to take photos and write the story you read today about the Rifle Police Department's training to handle an armed gunman.

All six officers were outfitted in bullet proof vests and carried - unloaded, I was told and believe - AR-15 assault rifles they need to counter what all the really bad guys have today. I totally understand that, you have to protect yourself and your fellow citizens, and you need firepower to do that, it's just reality.

As you know, there's a lot of attention on guns this year in the Colorado Legislature and in Congress. You've read and heard all about the bills under consideration and listened to the spin from gun control backers and opponents.

Again, all due to a few bad apples acting out against unsuspecting people in our schools, movie theaters and other public places.

Those of us who've lived in Rifle for the last few decades were probably around when our own mass shooting incident occurred. Just last year, those memories resurfaced when the shooter, Steven Michael Stagner, sought court permission to leave the grounds of the Colorado state mental health facility in Pueblo, where he'd been sent since he was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Four Hispanic citizens lost their lives and three more were injured by Stagner, who has a long history of mental health issues. His family tried many times to get Stagner the help he needed, but it never seemed to last. He'd be released from a hospital, go off his medications and do something crazy or bad.

That's the issue I'd like to see our leaders focus more attention on. The gun control measures we have in place now haven't prevented the needless deaths and lifelong injuries of thousands of loved ones, have they? Although why anyone would want to own an automatic or even a semi-automatic rifle is a mystery. Can't think of any other use for those than causing extensive property damage or worse. But to each his or her own.

At the Colorado Press Association convention a few weeks ago, I ate lunch next to a state representative from Denver, don't recall her name. But we talked about this very topic, and I told her more attention - and money - should be directed to the people and agencies that can help keep people like Steven Michael Stagner off the streets and away from guns.

I don't know if she took my comments to heart, but she mentioned something about a statewide crisis hotline that was due for some state funds. While that would helpful to a lot of folks, I'm not sure those planning to act out violently against others would be the ones to call for help.

I'm not an expert, nor a gun lover, although I do think the right to bear arms is very important to our freedoms. Circling back, it's the people who abuse that right that cause so much pain, heartache, anger and reactions like we're seeing in Denver and Washington, D.C.

So as I took photos of Rifle's finest learning how to prevent the types of tragedies we've sadly grown accustomed to, I knew it was all the bad apples out there that led to my story.

It seems to make sense to me to help the bad apples from going bad, instead of treating the symptoms or the results of what those bad apples do.

I just don't know when or if we'll do something to keep good apples from going bad.

Mike McKibbin is the editor of The Citizen Telegram.

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The Post Independent Updated Mar 6, 2013 06:25PM Published Mar 6, 2013 06:23PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.