'Doing Our Best To Protect' Children: The Role Of Guns In Vermont

Aug 10, 2017

This week as part of our Gunshots series, we asked Vermonters about the role of guns in their lives. Commentator Maggie Brown Cassidy had this to say.

I grew up around rifles. My older brother hunted squirrels and rabbits which my mother turned into stew. And I didn't think much about handguns, much less assault weapons, until one day a group of boys in the middle school German class I was teaching asked for bathroom passes. One of them had brought his grandfather's handgun to school and was showing it off in the boys restroom. 

A few years later, after Columbine, school authorities tightened security and then came Sandy Hook. Schools responded by turning into fortresses installing cameras requiring visitors to pass through locked doors and instituting lock-down drills. When we teachers learned to lock our classroom doors turn out the lights and position ourselves and our students against a solid wall in case an attacker shot through the door.

As I reassured my frightened students that we adults would do our best to protect them, It seemed to me that the country was not doing its best to protect our children from gun violence.

And since then I've been active in organizations promoting sensible gun laws. If gun violence were seen as a medical problem we would be acting to address it.

Here in Vermont, traffic of easily available handguns has fueled the opioid crisis as dealers from states with stricter laws trade drugs for guns.

I believe that hunters should be able to hunt with almost no restrictions beyond safe transport and storage. But I believe that access to handguns whose only purpose is to kill people should be strictly regulated as it is in other developed countries.

Arming ourselves ever more heavily and allowing weapons in more and more public places cannot and will not lead to less gun violence.While of course sensible restrictions on handguns won't stop gun violence in the U.S. they have been shown to decrease rates of domestic violence suicide and accidental death by firearms. And surely that would be good for our country.

We would be able to tell our children that we are truly doing our best to protect them.

Maggie Brown Cassidy is a teacher and writer who lives in Putney.

Gunshots Project Homepage | Vermont Voices: How Do Guns Fit Into Your Life? | The Data: Vermont Gun Deaths, 2011-2016