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Opinion: Grand Junction moms group puts kids before guns

Robyn Parker
LIBERAL LOGIC
Free Press Opinion Columnist

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Every summer for the past 14 years, the first day of school has begun with my kids posing on the front porch for back-to-school pictures. When my daughter was too young to attend, she dressed up in her best clothes anyway, standing proudly by her big brother on his first day of school.

When I lamented about not having both kids in the photo this year, my recent high school graduate set his alarm clock to awaken him four hours early. (His college preparations apparently require a lot of rest.) He dressed up just as nicely as his sister had when she was too young for school, and he stood beside her for her first day of classes.

It was nerdy and gushy and sweet, far from the typical sibling interactions in our household. Still, though, it was one of those moments that reminds a parent of the innocence and hopefulness childhood is supposed to be about.

Two days later, another child, a student at my daughter’s school, prepared for his day. We can only speculate about what he’d eaten for breakfast or if he’d done his homework. All we know is that part of his preparation for school included stuffing a gun into the waistband of his pants.

This young man’s day began with a presumption that he might need to kill someone. Fortunately, he didn’t fire his gun, but shortly into the school day, he did find cause to threaten someone with the weapon.

While passing through a parking lot near the school, he became offended by another student’s clothing choices. After shouting and verbally threatening the other student, he brandished the gun.

Grand Junction High School officials and local police effectively handled the situation without violence or mayhem. Students were safe for another day.

A few days earlier — at the same time that students were choosing new wardrobes, school supplies, and apparently gun ammunition — a citizens’ activist group advocating for gun sense and non-violence was attracting attention in Grand Junction.

Members of Grand Junction Gun Club had been working for months and even years on non-violence campaigns in the community, including efforts to keep guns out of schools and away from domestic violence offenders.

Just last month, they delivered 1,500 signed postcards to U.S. Representative Tipton from voters throughout his district on behalf of Everytown for Gun Safety. The postcards were part of a campaign to end gun violence.

With the group’s mission stating, “We aspire to have a community which embraces compassion, integrity, and gentleness and where differences are not addressed with guns,” members joked about how angry they were sure to make Second Amendment aficionados.

When gun obsessed locals discovered the Gun Club’s new Facebook page, the moms managing the page quickly realized that there is a lot more hatred out there than they ever could have imagined.

Right wingers plastered the page with threats, bigotry, and fear mongering. In response to one of the mom’s posts about the recent death of James Brady, one of the creeps wrote, “May he burn in hell and his stupid wife. Long live the 2nd Amendment.”

The death of President Reagan’s Press Secretary James Brady was ruled a homicide, meaning that the bullet which entered his brain during an assassination attempt on President Reagan tortured him for 33 years before taking his life. Brady is best known for his efforts to reduce violence through his organization Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Other opponents of Grand Junction Gun Club posted guns aimed at the page administrators, racist and homophobic comments, and personal attacks on anyone who disagreed with them.

Guns don’t just magically appear under kids’ pillows. They come from households and cultures that accept and encourage violence. They come from the people who become violent at the thought of anyone not having access to a gun. They come from people who believe that violence stops violence.

Many gun aficionados are clearly nuts. Gun nuts are calling the shots, and they’re the only voices we’re hearing from the Republican Party. Are there no conservatives with sense?

Mesa County can do better than this, and the Republican Party clearly isn’t going to do it.

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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