Opinion: Kindness supersedes need for guns | PostIndependent.com

Opinion: Kindness supersedes need for guns

Robyn Parker
Free Press Opinion Columnist

When you see me stranded in my car in the middle of the road, please know that I’m not trying to bother you, nor is anyone else in similar circumstances. We’re even more frustrated by our situations than you are.

I blame the condition of my car on a used car dealer my dad and I met while shopping for my first car. When I pointed to a “sporty” red one with the cassette stereo upgrade, the salesman said that car wasn’t for girls because it had a stick shift. Obviously, I had to have one of those, and I’ve been zipping around with manual transmissions ever since. I have driven my beloved 11-year-old vehicle into its death throes and can’t find a replacement.

Before its last repairs, my car stalled at stoplight where a homeless woman was standing with her dog and all of her belongings. As the light turned green, a Cadillac Escalade, horn blaring, barreled toward me. There was no other traffic, so the driver could have easily gone around me and made her light. Instead, she stopped and honked at me through the red light and the next green one, no matter that there was still no other traffic in her way.

Meanwhile, with my car’s first sputters, the “bum” was jumping into action. “Let me help you get your car out of the way,” she called out as she set down her sign and moved to tie her dog to a sign post. Then, as the honking continued, “Can’t you see she’s stuck? We should help her.”

By the next green light, I had the engine started again and was out of the way with the experience likely stuck in my head forever. What did a woman sporting a $70,000 car with a fish symbol mounted on the back have to be so angry about? Why was she so actively seeking confrontation with a stranger? What if she’d been carrying a gun? Why was a woman with nothing but an ugly mutt and a bag of dirty “junk” so generous?

The holiday season, notorious for rampant suicides and for rates of domestic violence rivaling only Superbowl Sunday, always gets me thinking about guns. The photos of 17-year-old Claire Davis, the most recent Colorado girl shot to death by a classmate, are especially striking because she’s the same age as my own son. She could easily be one of the kids who have caught a ride with me or sat at my dinner table.

I can’t help but wonder if there could have been some happenstance occurrence which could have prevented so many acts of horrific violence such as Claire’s brutal murder. It’s reasonable to imagine that someone on the edge, ready to hurt themselves or others, would only be driven further into despair if they were accosted by someone like my angry driver.

Likewise, I have to think that simply being nice could have an equally tremendous impact. What if on the day before they became murderers, someone had only bothered to offer a kind word or a smile to the boy who ended up shooting a classmate in the face and then killing himself in Denver? To the Detroit man who shot a young car crash survivor also in the face when she stepped on his porch looking for help? Or to the man who killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin simply for walking through his neighborhood? Would it have mattered? I don’t know. It surely couldn’t have hurt, though.

And surely it couldn’t hurt to make it a little harder for people to go so far over the edge when they do reach their tipping points. Colorado succeeded in passing legislation this year that would make it more difficult for a domestic-violence offender to carry a gun or for a shooter to blast more than 15 rounds into a crowd without reloading.

Sheriff Hilkey, Senator King (also a candidate for sheriff), Representative Scott, and Representative Wright seek to overturn those laws in 2014. It’s difficult to imagine that anything other than hurt could come of that, and one must surely wonder whose interests they’re representing.

A fourth generation Coloradan, GJ Free Press columnist Robyn Parker is the former host of the progressive community radio show, Grand Valley Live. She is a stay-at-home mom, active community volunteer and board member for local environmental and social justice organizations. Robyn may be reached at gjrobyn@gmail.com.

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