As people ponder Newtown tragedy, remember, for many firearms are a safe, family affair


Ourtdoor columnist

There was no way my oldest son could have possibly imagined that the day following his son’s 11th birthday, where he would receive his “first gun,” tragedy would strike in the form of a mass shooting. At an elementary school no less, killing 26 people, 20 of them children.

The birthday festivities Thursday night were tabled until Saturday where father and son would reconvene at the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s range to celebrate with my grandson’s best friend shooting .22s, his new Harrington & Richardson crack barrel .243-caliber, and yes, an AR military-style semi-automatic .223-caliber similar to the one used by Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter Adam Lanza.

We weren’t the only ones at the range Saturday. During the two hours we spent shooting Birchwood Casey Darkotic Splattering Zombi Targets, yes to enhance the fun part for the youngsters killing bad guys, there were perhaps 20 others who planned similar shooting activities.

There were other father and sons. There were young people in their 20s and 30s. There were hunters sighting in and tweaking the scopes on their rifles. All, under the watchful eye of a deputy sheriff, were responsibly enjoying a day shooting, while people grieved and mourned 1,500 miles away in Newtown, Conn.

Insensitive — following a day where some parents posted on Facebook how they needed to hug their children? Insensitive — where the same day innocent children still lay on the floor of a ghastly crime scene, where mothers and fathers wept close by?

Insensitive — when people were still searching for answers trying to understand why?

No — there was no way my son several weeks ago, when he and I first spoke about the shooting day, could have imagined this tragedy happening. Moreover, neither could anyone else at the range last Saturday, where they safely participated in shooting activities.

In the search for answers some are already clamoring for more gun control, offering it as the first solution for preventing such massacres from occurring. Sadly, the Sandy Hook Elementary School murders weren’t the worst on record.

In 1927, Andrew Kehoe, 55, blew up a wing of Bath Consolidate School, in Bath Township, Mich., killing 38 children, four adults, and injuring 58 others.

In our search for answers to a tragedy like this, one has to look no further than The Daily Review. In the Tuesday paper, in the New Briefs section on Page 5, two women were charged and arrested for infant cruelty, when they left a child in their car for 90 minutes at the 24/7 Truck Stop Casino in Eunice, while they gambled.

What would possess these women to do such a thing? Women whose core design is to nurture.

The outcome of this selfish depravity didn’t end in the death of a child as we’ve seen so often in times past when children are left in cars unattended for hours at a time. Thank God.

Yet, how many bankruptcies, divorces, suicides, and yes killings, have been results of gambling? Leaving an infant in an automobile, while inside a casino gambling, is no less another symptom of the ills in our current American culture.

Is there a clamor for limiting the hours of operation for casinos? Do casinos require patrons to demonstrate their ability to pay following regulated loss limit guidelines to protect personal property or that could impact whether children eat or have a roof over their heads? The answer is no.

The firearms industry is one of the most heavily regulated industries according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The NSSF estimates there are currently 20,000 federal, state and local gun laws on the books in the United States.

The National Safety Council, in their Injury Facts Reports 2010 edition state that annually, firearms are involved in fewer than 1 percent of all accidental fatalities. And, there are annually more accidental fatalities due to motor vehicles, falls, drowning, fires and burns, ingestion of food and/or objects, and poisoning than by firearms.

Annually, more than 600,000 students participate in hunter education programs prior to obtaining a hunting license in all 50 states. And, more than 25 million have graduated since hunter education became mandatory.

You must be 18 years old to purchase long guns such as rifles and shotguns and 21 years old to purchase handguns.

Latest reports state 20-year-old Adam Lanza who suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome, was introduced to firearms by his mother, Nancy Lanza, who owned them. What’s more, the mother and son visited local gun ranges as her way of bonding with her son. Reports indicate Adam Lanza lived at home, was unemployed, and had no friends.

When Kehoe blew up Bath Consolidated Elementary School 85 years ago, some speculate the farmer was under pressure from debt owed to hospitals as a result of his wife suffering from tuberculosis. Moreover, that he was suicidal and angry from losing an election for town clerk.

Aurora, Colo., theater shooter, James Eagan Holmes, is said to be mentally ill by his attorneys. Only time will tell if his attorneys are correct.

As mental health officials search for answers following mass murders that involve the use of guns there is always politicians who wish to make political hay out of the tragedy. More gun control laws aren’t the solution.

Across the country on Christmas Day, children will be opening presents and some, when the wrapper is pulled away will be first guns. In Newtown, Conn., this Christmas there will be presents left unopened.

In our collective search for answers it’s time to look deeper than gun control when both infant babies are left in automobiles outside in the parking lots of casinos and children become targets of maniacs.

If you wish to make a comment or have an anecdote, recipe or story you wish to share you can contact John K. Flores by calling 985-395-5586 or by e-mail:

It is illegal for certain categories of people to ship, transport, receive or possess firearms.

These categories include any person:

—Under indictment for, or convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.

—Who is a fugitive.

—Who is unlawful user or addicted to any controlled substance.

—Who is an illegal alien.

—Who has been dishonorably discharged from the military.

—Who is subject to a restraining order from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child.

—Who has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

—Who has been adjudicated mentally defective, or had been committed to any mental institution.

—Who was a citizen of the United States but has renounced citizenship.

St. Mary Now & Franklin Banner-Tribune

Franklin Banner-Tribune
P.O. Box 566, Franklin, LA 70538
Phone: 337-828-3706
Fax: 337-828-2874

Morgan City Daily Review
P.O. Box 948, Morgan City, LA 70381
Phone: 985-384-8370
Fax: 985-384-4255

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