July 22 • 11:11 AM
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Firearm issue about imparting morals, values in children

Dear Editor,

Having become a weekly habit, I gravitate to Catherine Minolli's column to read her latest musings. I am always given some tidbit to ponder for the week.

Her most recent (Dec. 12th) column has done so, once again. I, too, am saddened to hear about the latest tragedy that occurred in Omaha. I pray for the families of those who were killed, those who were injured, as well as for the family of the young man who committed this senseless act.

Am I going to change my life because of this? I don't think so. Am I—are we—to live our lives in fear of everyone around us? Will the next person we see be a gun-toting maniac? A bomb-strapped terrorist? I have to recognize that risks are present in life, every day, beginning with my morning trip to the shower, down the stairs, into my car for the morning commute down Van Dyke (a world of risk by itself), through a workday in an industrial plant, home again, and putting on the additional miles and activities associated with having kids in activities. When God calls, that's it—regardless of the means of one's passing. We still have lives to live, have people to help and love, and an example to set for others - we cannot let fear deter us from living.

As far as Catherine's angst regarding the reporting of the news goes, it is right to struggle over what should be reported. I agree with her—the public has a right to know what is happening in the world around them. The problem I see with the reporting of crimes such as the one in Omaha is associated more with the imbalance of the presentation of the 'who-what-when-where-how and why.' In the presentation of these events by the media (both print and broadcast), the criminal is made 'famous' or 'infamous' by the overwhelming emphasis on the 'how' and even more on the 'why' of the event. The media dwells on the point of the how and why far beyond the rest of the details. This overblown attention is not ignored by other troubled people, hence the attitude that 'I too can go down in a blaze of fame.' What a pity.

As to the issue of 'the real problem,' I do not believe that laying the blame upon firearms is looking at a real cause. A firearm, as with ANY technology (or tool), is amoral (has no inherent morals). Morals are imparted by the user. Tool or weapon? Medicine or poison? Life-saving or life-taking? According to information compiled by the CDC, more people die by automobiles, alcohol, drugs and poisoning than guns. One can easily replace the word 'weapon' with 'vehicle' and make the same arguments.

The issue is really how morals and values are imparted to the people who comprise our society. What are we REALLY teaching our children about life? To love our neighbor as we love ourself, to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, or to 'do unto others, then split?' (lapel pin wisdom from another time) Looking at the government's statistics, homicides account for less than 1% of all death in the US. Maybe we are doing a little better than we give ourselves credit for…

As a reporter and editor, I encourage you to look back over what you have reported over your career to the public. As a Tri-City Times reader, I see many more reports of auto accidents than firearm deaths (whether intentional or accidental). I see many, many more obituaries of those who have died as the result of a number of health related causes (old age, heart disease, cancer, etc.) than auto accidents or firearms.

As technology makes life more convenient in the hands of the moral user, so does it make injury or fatality more convenient in the hands of the immoral user. Technology changes; humanity has not. Since the beginning of humanity, we still love and hate, we still care and hurt (and kill). What we do need are more reminders of the successes (the 99%), instead of the over-reported focus on the failures (the 1%) and a balanced view of the real causes (motivations), rather than the symptoms (how).

Again, I appreciate the food for thought you provide your subscribers every Wednesday!

Chris Burkland, Almont
December 24, 2007

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