Opinion | Susan Knopf: People over guns

Susan Knopf / Summit Daily News

I walked out of the doctor’s office in Frisco. I saw some writing on the back window of my dirty car. I was pretty sure it said, “Wash me.”

When I got closer I read, “I park like an ass.”  At first I felt a bit of shame. Had I parked poorly? I studied my parking job. It was a rare moment of perfection. My car was as straight as the lines. The car was equally spaced inside those lines. I was pulled all the way into the parking space, against the parking block.

Somebody was pretty angry to dirty their finger to write something that wasn’t true on my car. Somehow the act made them feel powerful, pleased with themselves.

I believe these sorts of irrational displays of anger can be the seeds that lead to community violence. I’m not a doctor, nor a therapist. It’s just my opinion. I’ve worked in environments where snarkiness, turns to anger, and then becomes the victimization of others. First it’s just little put downs, then it grows larger and darker.

As we come to the end of our winter season and start to enter mud season we’re going to run into a lot of folks who are feeling anxiety. Let’s all try to be shining lights. Your smile can brighten someone’s day.

If you hear something snarky, perhaps you can say something. See if you can lighten it up.

Unfortunately, if we don’t pay attention to the little signs, fear and anger can fester. The shooter in Louisville, Kentucky this week was employed at the bank where he killed his co-workers. The shooter who gained entrance to a school in Nashville, Tennessee, two weeks prior, had been a student there.

Our co-workers and acquaintances are killing us. We have power in these incidents. Our first power is anticipation. Our next power is to be more supportive, more attentive, more engaged, kinder.

If we fail, we are left with the power to run, hide, or fight. This is the same instruction Phil Niedringhaus, of Secure Community Network, offered the Summit Colorado Interfaith Council members at their safety meeting at Dillon Community Church, last summer.

Apparently a number of people saved themselves at the Louisville bank employing “run, hide, fight.” Leaders in Louisville, like Democratic minority leaders in Nashville, are no longer satisfied to run, hide, fight and pray. Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg and Kentucky U.S. Rep. Morgan McGarvey both called for action.

Greenberg said, “We a need action now. We need short-term action to end this gun violence epidemic now, So fewer people die in our streets, in our banks, in our schools, and in our churches. And for that we need help. We need help from our friends in Frankfort (Kentucky  state capitol), and from our friends in Washington, D.C. This isn’t about partisan politics. This about life and death. This is about preventing tragedies. You may think this will never happen to you, never happen to any of your friends or loved ones. I used to think that. The sad fact is no one in our city, no one in our state, no one in our country has that luxury anymore.”

Congressman McGarvey said, “We need to take this grief and turn it into action….We need policies in place that will keep this from happening again….Don’t make this political. People’s lives aren’t political. Public safety isn’t political. Put those policies in place that put people first over guns.”  

Our Colorado legislators are doing exactly what those guys in Louisville, and people in Nashville are talking about. It’s about time.

For the record, a Kaiser Family Foundation study finds 1 in 5 Americans has a family member who died by gun violence. That number is approximately double for families of color. No other high income, Western, developed country has this amount of gun violence.  Gun violence is the no. 1 cause of death of children in the United States.

I’m encouraged that voters are starting to draw a connection between right wing support of guns, and opposition to reproductive freedom. People are starting to understand that these ideas are bad for our health. You can be a part of the solution. Contact Colorado Faith Communities United to End Gun Violence.

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