One of those by-the-way stories in the news today got me thinking about a feature I wrote for the Clearwater Sun 30 years ago. The feature I wrote was headlined “Living in Fear,” and it examined the havoc caused by so many older people in our area owning guns. As I recall, there were numerous incidents of accidental shootings – men waking up in the middle of the night and shooting their wives who were returning from the bathroom, for example. One sad anecdote told of a man who woke up and fired at a shadow in his bedroom. The bullet passed through a wall and killed someone in the apartment next door.
So when I read about an unfortunate man named Rodrigo Diaz this morning, it rang a bell. Quoting from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jamie Condliffe wrote in Yahoo News:
When Rodrigo Diaz set out to pick up his friends and go ice skating, he was in high spirits. But when his GPS navigation system took him and some friends to the wrong house, he was assumed to be an intruder—and shot dead.
Friends of Diaz claim that the then 69-year-old Phillip Sailors saw the car arrive at his house in Lilburn, Georgia, through a window. Moments later, Sailors appeared in his driveway, firing a gun into the air. As Diaz attempted to drive away, Sailors fired a shot which fatally wounded him.
Since, Sailors has been charged with murder with malice. His lawyer, Michael Puglise, explains:
“He is very distraught over the loss of life from the defense of his home. This incident happened late in the evening hours when he was home with his wife and he assumed it was a home invasion and he maintains his innocence.”
Obviously, if Sailors hadn’t owned a gun, he couldn’t have shot Diaz. He might have simply dialed 9-1-1, and he wouldn’t be facing a murder charge today. And Diaz would still be alive.
So, when I hear the gun nuts screaming about the Second Amendment, and claiming that “guns don’t kill people, people do,” I have to wonder about their sanity. Especially when they do it while the father of one of the murdered Sandy Hook children is making his case for banning military-style weapons. How do you explain the heckling of Neil Heslin, the father of 6-year-old shooting victim Jesse Lewis, during his testimony at the Connecticut capitol yesterday?
What kind of human beings would do a thing like that?
And I wouldn’t have been surprised if former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (above, left), had been shown the same kind of disregard during her testimony at today’s Senate hearing. The pro-gun activists don’t show much regard for anyone, even the victims of mass shootings like the one in Tucson.
Wayne LaPierre (above, right), CEO of the National Rifle Association, and his supporters don’t care whom they offend as they stridently demand that lawmakers leave gun owners alone.
But I can’t see how anyone could be swayed by their arguments.
The bottom line is that if Jared Lee Loughner didn’t have access to a gun, Gabby Giffords would still be able to serve in Congress, and the six people killed in Tucson would be alive – including Chief U.S. District Court Judge John Roll and 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green.
And if Adam Lanza’s mother hadn’t owned those deadly guns, the Sandy Hook children would be alive this morning.