Letter to the editor: Changing times show need for responsible gun laws

Before my family came to live in Middlebury in 1994, we lived in Pittsburgh for two years. In fact, we lived on a one-way cobble stone road in Squirrel Hill. I have fond memories of living there. The local Elementary and High schools, a sizeable park, and countless businesses were within walking distance of our house. I remember learning to play Street Fighter on an arcade game at one of the local newsstands.
I am a life-long Unitarian Universalist and have Jewish relatives. We had some Jewish neighbors, including a young man a couple years older than me who we befriended. The main friends I remember making in fifth grade were of African American decent. My family got a membership at the area Jewish Community Center. I remember my dad teaching my brother and myself how to play racquetball there. I took piano lessons, ran countless laps on the track above the gymnasium court, and partook in my first triathlon there. Not to mention that we in fact lived in Mr. Rodger’s neighborhood.
Before moving to Pittsburgh, we lived in Castleton, where I attended Castleton Elementary School, which eventually feeds into Fair Haven High School. Had my fate been just a little different, I would currently be an alumnus of Fair Haven and likely feel more affected by their near miss than I already do.
Much of my current concern is for my three children and the world that they are growing up in. Even when we lived in Pittsburgh, my parents gave us much more freedom and leeway than I could even fathom my children having. Once we knew the area, we were allowed to walk several blocks from home without an adult. Now there is so much fear about abductions, assaults, and other senseless violence that we feel like negligent parents if we leave our children alone outside for any length of time.
When I was young, my father, a Vietnam War Veteran, taught us how to shoot BB and pellet guns. We would watch our hunter neighbors practice their skeet shooting at times. I never once saw the likes of the high power, fast reloading riffles that one hears about nowadays. I have never had a lot of interest in guns, but I respect others’ rights to possess reasonable fire arms. I see no reason for members of the civilian majority to have military grade weapons that were in fact designed to kill many people in short order. I fully support sensible gun ownership for safe, recreational use, hunting, and safety purposes.
The proliferation of high capacity weapons since the Automatic Weapons Ban was allowed to expire in 2004, and bloodthirsty video games have strongly contributed to the current perpetual state of emergency and mourning our country finds itself in today. I don’t know many details about Vermont’s new gun laws, but I applaud our legislature for passing something and finally starting the conversation in our state. In my opinion, signing those bills into law was one of the few good things our governor did this last biennium.
If any of those laws prove unacceptable or insufficient, then I strongly encourage our state lawmakers to keep working toward safer and lawful solutions. In addition, all representatives of the American people who hold office in Washington, D.C., should start heeding their constituents and pass strong and meaningful gun restrictions.
The pace at which gun violence is growing in our country, I worry that my grandchildren will grow up in a significantly worse environment than my children or myself have. I attended a school in Pittsburgh that had a security guard because it was in a rough neighborhood. The idea of our small Vermont community schools needing full time security guards and armed teachers at any time should be completely ludicrous. I admit that the larger schools in Vermont may reach the point of needing extra measures of safety. I just would never have thought it when I was growing up.
Ian Ross

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