I'm going to get a little revealing for a moment and note that a small part of my absence was unwinding from the stress of a recent shooting in my hometown. On March 13 a 64 year old man went on a small shooting spree in Mohawk and Herkimer New York. Four gentlemen lost their lives and two more were injured before the gunman, Kurt Meyers holed himself up in an abandoned building on Main St. in Herkimer. He took out a canine officer before being killed by police.
The second shooting location, Gaffey's, is less than a block and a half away from where my parents live and my mother works about two blocks away from Main St. Knowing that he was hitting up small businesses and not knowing his next target meant for a few scary hours wondering if the small optometrist's office my mother works at could be a target. It's nothing compared to the loss suffered by the families of the victims, but I'm not afraid to admit that until he was cornered I was extremely stressed.
Yes, New York has enacted some wacky gun laws, and yes it already had the strictest gun laws, but my little hometown does not fit the stereotype of "LOL NY is a blue state!" The people I grew up around are hands down the whitest, second-amendment lovingest, conservative christian people you could find north of the Carolinas. Most people own guns or have access to them through friends and relatives. Hunting and target practice are common hobbies, and you don't have to travel too far to find schools that will actually shut down for the first day of hunting season.
I can't say that I know this as a fact, as I was not personally acquainted with the victims, but knowing the area the way I do leaves me confident saying the odds are most, if not all, of the victims owned or had access to guns. It's pissed me off to no end seeing people say or type "Well, if they'd had a gun..." No, fuck you because they probably did own one. My brother-in-law is a gun loving Texan born and raised, but if you had asked him before this happened if he thought he needed to carry a gun on him to go to the jiffy lube in Herkimer on a Wednesday morning he would have said "No, it's not that kind of town." Maybe you'd want one to venture on Main St. on a weekend night, but where and when Meyers went was retiree central, and one look at the list of victims and their ages confirms this.
So, at least from where I'm standing, it's not a matter of lack of access to guns. It also appears that the gun laws we're enacting don't stop this as well. I'm going to go out on a limb and say these shootings we're seeing have very little to do with guns, so it would be nice if Democrats and Republicans (or however you want to characterize the "sides") could shut up for a little while and try to find the problem instead of clawing over a symptom.
In the time since the shooting it's been revealed that Meyers had no money, no job, and had maxed out his credit cards. The Mohawk Valley is an economically depressed place, and has been for a long time. It's the type of place that relied heavily on factory jobs to employ large numbers of residents, and was hit incredibly hard when those factories moved out of state or overseas. It's also not a place that puts an emphasis on education, and you're considered a "high achiever" if you spend 2 years at HCCC or MVCC and manage to continue on to SUNYIT for a bachelor's. Because residents are slow to accept change, a three district school merge was voted down this past October and as a result children get to pay for the stupidity of their families and neighbors by watching all sports cut, bare bones electives and class options, and we're waiting to see if kindergarten can be saved.
If people want to see these shootings stop I really think they need to focus things like poverty (and the lack of education and support that goes with it) and mental health. People need to stand together as a community and not pretend that these problems don't exist where they live. Mohawk Valley residents have denied for years that serious trouble was brewing. Those of us that have moved away and have no desire to return look at them and just shake our heads. I could have never predicted that this would have happened, but I knew that something would eventually give and people wouldn't be able to deny it any longer.
On a more ranty note I raged toward a few friends of friends (also from the area) on Facebook. In the wake of this the "PLZ Pray" splattered across my newfeed like vomit at a frat party. These people didn't appreciate me pointing out that "thanking" god that 2 of the victims lived and are making "miraculous" recoveries is really disgusting and offensive considering that the friends and families of 4 others will never get to see their loved one again. I mean really, how obnoxious is the sentiment? I asked one guy where he got off saying such things and asked him why the hell his god would kill 4, but not the other 2. Did the 2 who lived pray more? Is it because they had shredded wheat for breakfast? Were they wearing the right colored shirt? One was the grandson of a victim and despite me being very happy for him that his grandfather lived I just could not help but scold him for thanking "god" instead of science and doctors because apparently his god is a huge asshole who let 4 other men die.
Seriously, fuck that shit.
I'll end with a few links for citation
Hopefully my break will allow me time an energy to get a few more posts out. After this one I'd like to focus on something a bit lighter, like a craft post or game review. We'll see how that goes. Either way, thanks to whatever interwebs readers see this for sticking with this post to the end.