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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Another small town falls to the wayside...

As I read the news story linked in the title of this blog, I was profoundly saddened. In Oklahoma, a small town named Picher (I don't know if it's pronounced "pitcher" or "pishay" or what) is all but closing since the mine played out in the 1970's. What was once a thriving mine town is now an over polluted ghost town (almost - there are about 800 residents left but not for long).

Last October, I was in a town called Cripple Creek in Colorado. This is a beautiful little town hidden in the Rocky Mountains, south of Colorado Springs. Like Picher, Cripple Creek was on its' way out when it managed to revive itself. Maybe someday Picher can do the same but for now, it doesn't look like it will. Not with the lead floating around there in the air and ground.

I was raised in a small town near Dayton, OH. For those not raised in a small town, I feel sorry for you. Where I was raised, we all knew each other and our parents knew each other. I went to school for thirteen years with the same people and I couldn't get in trouble in one part of town without my parents hearing about it before I got home. My high school reunion was last year and it felt more like a family reunion. I'm sure Picher was the same way, with families living next to families and everyone knowing each other for so long they can't remember a time when they didn't.

One of my greatest memories of the town I grew up in was the volunteer fire department there. It's staffed now with paid fire fighters and EMTs but at one time it wasn't. Whenever there was an emergency call, a loud whistle on top of the fire house would sound for a minute or two. It doubled as the tornado siren after Xenia, another small town near us, had a devastating tornado with no warning. Because this siren was so important, it was tested every evening at 6 o'clock. EVERY evening... Life being as easy as it was, all of my siblings and I were out and about playing with out friends, whatever - our parents always knew we were safe because they KNEW everyone. Our only guide as to when to get home was that we hear the six o'clock whistle, it was time to head home. Sometimes Mother would ring a cowbell, if we were a few minutes late.

I live in a small town now. My son tells me it's a little too small with our nearest neighbor being more than a block away. He gets bored easily and I understand that. I used to tell my parents how I couldn't wait to turn 18 so I could lose the small-town dust from my shoes and that I spent the next 20 years trying to get it back. You don't know what you have until it's gone. But, I'll take small town living over any big city any day of the week.

I feel badly for the people of Picher, OK. While I'm sure most of them will move to yet another small town, it's someone else's small town. Picher was home to generations of families and it's no longer going to be that way. New memories will be created but it's going to take a couple of generations to make the new small town their home.

With urban sprawl taking up so many acres of so many small towns, how long is it before the demise of Picher and towns like it becomes so common we don't have them any longer?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Is it safer to allow us to own guns?

Kennesaw, GA had a problem in the early 80's - too much crime. They were once a small town, they kind of blew up over the course of five years, and they had a crime problem. The amount of crime this town suffered was disproportionate to the population.

The town council finally decided enough was enough and they voted unanimously to pass a law mandating every head of household who was legally able to do so - except conscientious objectors - HAD to buy a gun for home protection. This was in 1982 and since that time, the city of Kennesaw has had only three murders: two with knives and one with a gun. In 26 years, they've had just THREE murders. There have been no accidental shootings, everyone is required to take a free gun ownership course and the crime rate plummeted the first year the law was enacted, if I recall correctly, by 78%.

To be fair, this isn't a law that's heavily enforced. The police don't go door to door to make sure everyone has a gun. But, and this is a big but, the criminals don't know who's armed on the other side of the door in that house they're thinking of breaking into and who isn't. The odds of being shot while committing a crime increased exponentially when Kennesaw passed that law back in the early 80's.

I was reading an online board the other day that gravitated to this topic. People point fingers and scream and yell when something like the Virginia Tech massacre happens that we need more gun control. Someone on the board I was reading made a statement along the lines of, "Had there been one student in the area of these shootings who was permitted to carry a gun on campus, how many lives would have been saved with a well-placed shot towards the gunman?" We'll never know because the tree-hugging liberals in the world don't want guns in the hands of LAW-ABIDING citizens, they just want criminals to have them.

Recently, someone walked into a Wendy's in West Palm Beach, FL and shot up the place killing one customer and injuring four others before he killed himself, saving the good state of Florida millions in housing him and dealing with his appeals on his way to a lethal injection. The man he killed was a 28-year-old father who was making a return trip to get a toy for his child. He was a member of the local fire-rescue department and seems to have been a good man. Dead because someone was having a bad day. Had there been someone in that restaurant with a legally owned and carried gun, might this man's life have been saved? We'll never know and his kids get to grow up without their father.

Seems to me we don't need MORE gun control but less. My husband and I own guns. We live less than a mile from the Mexico border and illegals aliens run amok around us, even going so far as to show up on our doorstep or steal my chickens for dinner. If they break into our house with ill intent, I can guarantee you they'll go out on a stretcher with one more hole in them than they came in with.

Kennesaw, GA is the perfect example of responsible gun ownership and it's proving to the world that guns can actually save lives. The only time a gun is truly dangerous is when it's in the hands of a person who either doesn't know what they're doing or someone who is using the gun to commit a crime thereby meaning the gun probably isn't legally owned anyway.

Wake up people and realize... We don't need more gun control for those buying them legally, we need to get the guns out of the hands of criminals. Barring that, we need to make sure the average citizen can protect himself, herself and their families. If we don't do that, and soon, the only people who will have guns will be the criminals, and they'll take over the country.