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Rising Up in the Face of Tragedy

February, 20 2018
Ever wonder what a retailer who sells firearms feels and thinks in the face of such tragedy as Parkland? The quick answer: exactly like you. The long answer is as conflicted as Facebook. Today, a fellow citizen felt that posting something negative and cheeky about Parkland was appropriate on our Facebook page. I want to sit across from this person and ask what they are trying to accomplish. Do you think if I work around the clock on a business such as mine, that your comment will send me running for the hills? Are you adding to the positive or the negative of the world’s dialogue? You have it too. If you are reading this, then you participate in the world of Facebook. Depending on where you sit, your feed is filled with: “Take the firearms NOW!” or things like this:

“Cops sent to Cruz’s home 36 times, school expelled him, FBI was warned,
and the liberals blame the gun.”
“Guns were easier to get in the 60s and 70s but we didn’t have mass
shootings to the degree we do now. Maybe guns aren’t the problem.”
“When a police officer shoots an unarmed man you blame the police
officer. When a horrific school massacre occurs, you blame the gun. Please
explain this logic.”
“In my time, shotguns were in truck back windows every day at school- and yet not once did one come inside and shoot anyone. What’s changed?”

Who knew when we started this company five years ago, that firearms would become the scape goat of all the problems of the world? No other retail item, a tool, gets more attention today than the firearm. Recently, I did an interview that lasted a few days with the national CBS News. The topic? Children and firearms, more specifically, our First Shots Class for parents and children. While doing this interview, I was braced. The media seems to always want to paint a dark picture of what firearms mean to the world, and I was trying hard to educate. Many have asked, “Why would you bother doing such a story? You know they {the media} always want to cast negative imagery on this.” I say, you have to continue talking or they never get the true picture. They will never understand that ignorance breeds fear and that this tool they would like to hang blame on for all the ills in the world is a deep-seated right in this country, but not just a right as in the second amendment, but a right of passage, a bonding glue that many kids place the most value on for a childhood memory–a recreational sport. Both in the range and in the field, many adults’ fondest memories are the time spent with family enjoying the sport of shooting. It is a sport, like many, where life can be lost if not handled properly. The same as ANY other sport. Children die every year living life….doing sports. It is always tragic, but it is a part of our world. There are no guarantees. The CBS reporter came at me at one point and asked, “How do you feel about the xx number of children who died last year by a firearm?”

Are you kidding me? I feel sick. I feel sad. I feel everything a mother of two feels when they contemplate, “what if”.

But, I responded quickly with this, “I feel the same as I do about the two-fold amount that died by drowning. I wish they had learned to swim. I wish sometimes accidents didn’t happen.” Education is key. We have to do our part to educate. Keep talking.

So, if it is not the firearms and abundance of them causing these mass school shootings, like the recent tragedy in Parkland, then what is it? I’m afraid I have no more answers than anyone. I will say I started my career out of college working with troubled teens in a residential treatment facility for children in downtown Kansas City. As I looked into the most recent shooter’s eyes, cold and unfeeling for what he had allegedly been responsible for, I recognized this look. It is an emptiness. It is a lack of connection. This young man has reportedly suffered great loss. By all accounts, he was unconnected and perhaps had some biological issues yet to be fully determined. The firearm he used did not go into Parkland and shoot these poor kids, that man did. And, what we could have done for that man as a society, is what I believe was missed. I hope that we can, as a nation, embrace a Biblical principle that we seem to be missing the most. Love one another. Even if you don’t feel love, you can choose love. You can reach out and be kind. You can smile at the man in the grocery store who looks so angry. You can ask the hard questions, of what can I do for you today to make a difference? Instead of looking at those who enjoy the shooting sports or participate in their second amendment right and making them part of the problem. Law abiding citizens, the ones who train, the same ones who will pull their firearm (and do, though seldom picked up by the mass media) and protect YOU in your time of need….these folks are not a part of the problem. The problem is so much more than a tool. I get it. We want answers. The easy answer is to look to the tool and blame the “thing” instead of the person. Instead of looking to ourselves, the proverbial ‘neighbors’, and asking ,“What can I do? What did we miss?” Because we are missing something.

Many suggest we need tougher laws; we need to crack down on access; we need to outlaw certain firearms. These seem like quick and easy fixes. Isn’t that what we want? We always want the “quick and easy”. We don’t suggest that we must get a license to parent because kids are not being parented properly. We don’t suggest that openly rude behavior and name calling be fined. We don’t suggest that cars be outlawed because drunk drivers are misusing cars and killing people. We see that a mere driver’s license doesn’t stop drunk driving. Even the sad and pathetic dog commercial (which I personally love) where the dog is sad because the man doesn’t come home after drinking and driving doesn’t deter certain alcoholics from risking my life and your life by being on the road after too many drinks. We don’t go after doctors who oversell prescription medications to the point of addiction. We outlaw certain drugs to only find the problem persists. People still become drug addicts. Do you know why we continue to have all these issues? Spoiler alert: We are not on the other side of heaven yet and we all have FREE WILL. We will always have sin. We will always have the broken. I contend, if we want solutions, we don’t look to the law-abiding citizens who take personal responsibility more seriously than the average citizen, but instead we look within ourselves and do what the Hollywood elite like to tout and then often not do. We need to choose kindness. We need to love one another the best we can, and while free will exists and we are on this earth, we know that evil will always exist and do our best to lift up our neighbor. We rise by lifting others. Today, the Frontier Justice family educates our world and we also pray for Parkland. We pray for our nation. We choose kindness.

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