A Connected Set of Observations on Guns, Addiction, and Alexei Navalny  

Three Very Different Yet Connected Realities


One of the latest mass shooting to hit America just occurred, in Kansas City, in an area where people gathered to celebrate their Super Bowl win. People were shot because they were in a place where someone else came to hurt people.

Shortly thereafter, police and first responders in a small town in Minnesota answered a call for help in the wee hours of the morning; a family was in danger. Shortly thereafter, two policemen and a fire rescue member were shot dead.

And so it goes, day after day, pretty much everywhere in America. A few years ago, people directly affected by such assaults would say I never thought something like that could happen here. No one says that anymore.

As we look around we see mass murder, often by mentally ill or psychologically damaged people who have no trouble getting all the weapons and ammunition they want, legally. The killing goes on in schools, in the street, at workplaces, at entertainment venues, on highways – everywhere.

Today we all know that no place in America is safe. Literally no place.

When I was a child, we had duck and cover drills, supposedly designed to help us survive a nuclear attack. They would not, of course, have made any difference. The real issue was dealing with the threat, no surviving the attack.

Today, kids must go through live shooter drills at school. One hopes they could help, these drills, but what kind of country have we become that this is what we let happen to our children? Guns are the leading cause of death among American children. Think about that.

Our murder and suicide rates are worse than most of the developed world put together. We have more guns than people. Yet so very little gets done.


It finally occurred to me that the perpetual gun violence we let happen has an analogy that many are already familiar with – that of alcohol or drug addiction. Some portion of the country is addicted to guns, to violence, to the false philosophy that the Second Amendment is absolute, unlike any other part of our constitution. They are addicted to it all.

Their addiction is fed by enablers, who make guns ever easier to obtain and who feed the fear of losing any freedom of any type with any sort of guns. Some of these enablers are politicians, others are in it for the money. Likely some are true believers themselves in more guns as a solution, but most are simply using people to make money or maintain political power.

The rest of us are like neighbors or family members of the addict. We mourn the losses, feel helpless in trying to understand or deal with the addiction of our fellow Americans. And we hope that neither we nor those we love will be shot to death.

At this point, we know it is simply the luck of the draw. If anyone feels safe, anywhere, they are kidding themselves. We live on a continental sized shooting range.

Alexei Navalny

And then I thought of Alexei Navalny, the remarkably brave and dedicated Russian murdered a few days ago by Putin. A lot has been written about this man; I encourage you to read all you can. Watch the documentary done just a few years ago on his life.

In an odd moment of connection, I thought of his words to those who would free Russia to be a better place. He has told his people that what they seek is right and that if they are killed by those that oppose them, they must take that as a sign of their own strength and potential to change the world. You cannot quit, he told them, no matter what.

I read of Navalny’s murder at the same time I was reading about these two attacks by Americans on each other. I realized Navalny’s words fit this fight as well. Those who fight against common sense and public safety are afraid of the  mass of Americans who know this is wrong and want change.

We, too, do not have the right to quit. The vast majority of this country want reasonable, sensible policies at the national level. The divisions that wrack us now making getting this done harder, but get it done we shall. As long as it takes, we will get there.

Wouldn’t it be nice to go to a public place – to go anywhere – and not wonder if today might be the day needless death comes to where we stand? We need to deal with the addiction and stop killing the children and the innocent.

See you next week.

Bill Clontz

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