News and Tribune

April 29, 2013

CUMMINS: Two ways to protect yourself

Local columnist

It’s tough to protect yourself in this crazy world we live in. It’s both a beautiful and an ugly world, a peaceful and a violent world. It’s an angry world beset with conflict, and yet tempered with tranquil moments that keep hopes alive. It was designed a perfect and harmonious world, but populated with assortments of imperfect beings. As civilization progresses, the uncivilized elements keep popping up which test our resolve to try understanding the unexplainable.

Violence and terrorism are two major topics currently taking precedence over mundane subjects such as climate change, the economy and budgets. Reports of the numerous incidents of violence are so numerous it’s difficult keeping up with them. Skip those reports and go to the entertainment or sports section. Don’tt bother with keeping track of how many people were violently killed today.

The recent Boston Marathon bombing captured our nation’s attention. How dare those two young immigrant brothers, one a U.S. citizen and the other a permanent resident, terrorize us? That our country had not been terrorized in 12 years, is rather unbelievable considering the preponderance of wackos populating the world. Although our government is broken in many respects, it does a few things right. Thanks for keeping us relatively safe these past 12 years.

Most of our world’s 7 billion people want peace, and that which comes with it. There are, however, a substantial number of fanatics, radicals and jihadists under cover out there, who are capable of and waiting for the opportunity to pack a pressure-cooker or suicide bomb and kill as many innocents as possible with one whack. “You notice me now, don’t you?” is the language they speak, a devotion and commitment unparalleled. 

Having worked with youth over 30 years, I realized how impressionable they are. Most turn out OK, but there are those few who can go either way. One of my students won a Nobel Prize and another made the FBI’s most wanted list. For a myriad of reasons — abuse, bullying and resentment to name a few — young people can become deeply disturbed, confused and blatantly evil. Supposedly, the Boston bombers were “nice kids.” 

How can we be protected from violence? One theory is that you fight fire with rapid fire. Since the Second Amendment permits you to protect yourself, buy an assault weapon and a dozen clips. Another theory is that we try to get some control over who can and cannot legally carry heat.  

Somebody please explain what common sense is. After Newtown and 20 children and six adults were massacred with an assault weapon, the president said they deserved a vote. They got one.  Fifty-four senators voted in favor of background checks.  Well, if over 94 percent of Americans and a majority of the four million NRA members support background checks, why does it take 60 votes to pass the legislation? Don’t you see that one senator can say, “I filibuster,” and that means it takes 60 votes. Oh, now I get it, a quirk in our democracy, which permits a senator without a conscience, even with the lives of children involved, to fear that a small but powerful minority can defeat him in the next election. Will he risk getting blood on his hands? Yes, but that’s not the issue; his Second Amendment rights are.

Our world will become more violent, or less, and we the people will decide. What is our obligation? Guns have one purpose, to kill, but “thou shalt not kill,” puts us in a bind. How do we form a more perfect union and lay the groundwork for its people, not to live perfectly, but to just live? We either reduce the chances of violence, or else turn our homes into fortresses.

Guns can protect life but take it, too. I learned to shoot one before I learned to read. I still own two, but don’t intend on using them, unless someone tries killing my family. Back on the farm, we shot wild dogs attacking our sheep, and hunted game for food. On hog butchering day, a boy came of age when he could shoot a hog between the eyes with a .22. One day when walking in the woods with my trusty 12 gauge, I heard a rustling in the top of a tall tree. When I fired, three baby raccoons fell to the ground. They lay there writhing and crying pitifully. What had I done? I cried with them, too, and it haunts me to this day.


— Contact Terry Cummins at