For those of you who love New England like I do, we enjoy traveling in the region and coming to understand and appreciate the history and development of the various communities within it. And no matter how different they may be, we look to experience the unique beauty and attributes of each place and share it with anyone who would care to do the same. More often than not we look for peace and tranquility in our travels, and it’s usually not hard to find.
Quanneapague is a New England town that is pleasing to visit. It is relatively large in land area and boasts a rather affluent population approaching 30,000 that seems to care about the community. A significant river marks approximately 12 miles of its border. It is dammed in two places resulting in two long lakes that provide some excellent aquatic recreation among some scenic, forested hills.
Despite the long riverfront, little manufacturing is found here with 60% of the economy involved in trade and services. It is very much a picturesque bedroom community that includes seven charming villages all within easy commute range to important business centers.
History buffs recall that French General Rochambeau rested his army here en route from Newport, RI to Virginia where he joined with George Washington’s Continental Army in surrounding British forces at Yorktown. Others point out that the game of Scrabble was invented here. The rooster weathervane located on the top of the historic Meeting House is a treasured artifact but not any more than the 100-foot flagpole across the street which in warm months flies a huge 20’ X 30’ American flag.
Residents in this town, as in any other, seek the American dream of living in peace and being free. They expect to feel safe in their homes, and at places where they work, worship, shop and play. And they don’t expect to do any of these things with the threat of firearms or any other weapons ever standing in their way, on Christmas or any other day.
I say that understanding that you need to realize that Quanneapague has not been called that name for over 300 years now because it was purchased from the Pohtatuck Indian tribe in 1705 and incorporated as Newtown, CT in 1711. That’s right—I’m talking about Newtown.
You obviously are aware of what happened in this community just eleven days ago and how the horror that ensued created agony throughout the country. The American dream was assaulted with a weapon that has no place in a civilized society other than in the hands of those professionals who are entrusted with the task of defending our freedom.
In recent days, the National Rifle Association has offered the absurd solution of inviting more guns into schools and other public places. The largest retailer of firearms, WalMart, has so far waffled on proposing a more responsible way to deal with the problem as well. But, I guess that is too much to expect from either of these organizations or any others who profit greatly from gun sales. Just follow the money. Greed usually trumps common sense, especially when such a large amount of money is involved. And when a portion of that money reaches the pockets of our Congressional representatives or is used against them, as it often has, you can’t expect them to lead the country in taking appropriate action, either.
So, it is up to us as ordinary Americans to speak up and use whatever collective clout we may have to prevent our country from giving up its way of life. As a Christian, I believe without equivocation that Christ would oppose gun proliferation. Then again, what credible religion would support this kind of thinking? History teaches us that from Attila the Hun to the Communist countries of the twentieth century, empires relying primarily on armed force do not survive. The heroes of our time instead are people that sought both justice and peace without violence. Individuals such as Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King come to mind in this regard. Weapons ultimately are not the main ingredient that allows people to be truly free.
On average there is about one gun for every citizen in the United States. And, according to The Atlantic Wire, even though we represent only 5% of world population, we own about half of the world’s gun supply. Interestingly, the South has the highest rate of gun related deaths in the country and is the region least supportive of gun control. Meanwhile, we are fortunate in New England to have the lowest level of such violent deaths and the Northeast Region has the highest support for gun control. In other words, where there is more enthusiasm for guns, there is more violence. I don’t believe that this is merely a coincidence.
In conclusion, more guns are not the answer to maintaining a free and peaceful lifestyle…not in Newtown, CT, not in Old Town, ME or anywhere in America. We must find a way to prevent gun proliferation from doing more damage to our country.