Are we Numb to Guns?


Every day when I drive to base from dropping off my children from school, I see men and women with guns guarding the gate. (I’m thankful for them).

When I leave the commissary, I see scores of Army troops with rifles training near their barracks. (I’m thankful them, too).

I go to Wal-Mart to buy my children their favorite toys for Christmas and pass by the glass counter filled with guns and rifles; toys and guns just aisles from each other, I barely notice anymore. I live in Texas – West Texas, where I hear guns and shotguns being fired from behind my home during dove and deer hunting season. In a single day, I’m surrounded by dozens of guns; I’m un-phased. It’s just a part of my life.

A few months ago, some random man was shooting at bottles on a fence behind our home (unsecured base housing). Belligerently and carelessly, he fired dozens of rounds in the air. Three bullets whizzed over mine and my neighbors head, cutting through tree branches above, while were standing in front of our homes.

Our children were only several feet from us. One bullet went through my neighbor’s house, the wall outside their bathroom where she just finished bathing her children. Her three year-old picked up the bullet from the bathroom floor and brought it mommy.

I personally thought it was someone after my husband for punishment or payback from a disciplinary action at work. I hid in my stairwell with my children until the police told us it was a civilian, a prior felon having a good time shooting bottles behind our home.  He shouldn’t have had a gun. We were outraged and scared, of course. But, the outrage and fear didn’t last and we chalked it up to bad people doing bad things.

However, after the massacre of innocents in Newtown, Conn. something changed in me. I realized that I have been numb to guns and their abundance in numbers. I picked up my kindergartner and preschooler from school with suspicious eyes wondering how secure my children really were. This could never happen again, right?

I’m not sure anymore. I’ve become so numb to the presence of guns until now; something has stirred inside me. Guns are everywhere; in the open and hidden from view. From my neighbors to the guard gate base, from Christmas shopping to hunting season, from pawn shops to the vehicle parked next to me, they are everywhere. I’m in a heightened state of awareness because if just one of these guns fall into the wrong hands, even if they were acquired legally, it could change the course my life forever.

I no longer feel safe. It’s not about protecting myself, either. I’m not going to carry a gun with a kindergartner and preschooler in tow. I’m sure people do, but it’s not something would be comfortable with.

Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of the Second Amendment. However, I believe that gun ownership is a responsibility that most take seriously. Responsible gun owners shouldn’t be penalized for following the law. But as I stood in line to see Santa Claus with my children this weekend inside a crowded mall, I couldn’t help but think this place was a target for a madman with a gun. I felt helpless, then extremely sad for knowing that it could happen. It happened recently in crowded mall in Oregon, in the movie theaters in Colorado, in a coffee shop in Washington. All places of business I frequent with my children. I didn’t feel safe. I reached down and tightened my grip on their little hands.

Is this our new reality? Where crowded places and classrooms are targets for the armed unstable minded? I feel helpless. My world has changed since Friday. I’m no longer numb to the guns that surround me. I’m now on edge because of them, acutely aware of how my life can change in an instant — as fast as you can pull a trigger.

Stacy Allsbrook-Huisman is a freelance writer and consultant with a passion for military spouses and families.  Being married to the Air Force for almost decade has given her the inside perspective into the life and struggles of the military family.  Huisman currently writes for Goodfellow Monitor at Goodfellow Air Force Base and local papers. She works full time raising her two preschoolers and managing her military life.  

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43 Comments on "Are we Numb to Guns?"

  1. All the self-defense and combat training in the world can be wiped out by a stray bullet of a madman. And all the laws and regulations will be overcome by someone determined to do harm. Preparation and precautions are okay, but ultimately we are not invincible. And this is where I get my strength to walk through the day, without being a slave to fear or worry, and able to enjoy the day for what it is:

    Isaiah 41:10-13
    Fear not, for I am with you;
    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
    I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

    11 Behold, all who are incensed against you
    shall be put to shame and confounded;
    those who strive against you
    shall be as nothing and shall perish.
    12 You shall seek those who contend with you,
    but you shall not find them;
    those who war against you
    shall be as nothing at all.
    13 For I, the Lord your God,
    hold your right hand;
    it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
    I am the one who helps you.”

  2. I completely agree with you Stacy. I am a Navy spouse of 16 years and our culture is one of getting the bad guys and defending our freedom and our way of life. I feel like I too have become numb to the effects of guns and violence. I don't allow my children to play any graphic computer games particularly those that portray killing of any person or animal ever! I feed them healthy food, I take them to church, I actively involve them in acts of charity, I make them have good sleep, I don't let them watch bad TV and I constantly talk to them about everything, especially how to deal with people and treat everyone equally. But, it has never so deeply bothered me until now that there are so many guns and it is so easy to get them. It is sad that it took this tragedy for me to really delve into how I feel about this subject and like you I have questions and no answers and I feel terribly helpless.

    I am originally from Australia. The last mass shooting that killed 35 people occurred over a decade and a half ago. The govt subsequently acted with a weapon buyback program, ban on firearms and extensive background checks. It reduced the homicide rate by about 60% in the decade following that tragedy. Most importantly it set in the minds of citizens that this is unacceptable and it needs to stop. Sadly, this kind of change will never happen in the US purely because of the vast gun ownership and most importantly because of the deeply ingrained believe that we NEED to have a gun.

    We can make ourselves more sensitive to the tragic results a gun in the wrong hands can cause. We need to be more sensitive and we need to keep EDUCATING our children in so many ways that will make this world a better place.

  3. Well stated Adelle! Thanks!

  4. Grammar Counts | December 19, 2012 at 6:39 pm |

    Ok, I admit, I could not read far into this. Some editing is much needed for OCD grammar people like me, sorry…

  5. Grammar Counts, I couldn't agree more…and I wrote it. I wrote it so quickly that I didn't proof it properly.. I've sent in a corrected version, but it hasn't been posted yet. I appreciate people like you. Below is my blog (under construction), you can read th corrected version there. Thanks!

  6. For those of you who have a fear of guns and are not willing to shoulder the responsibility of a CCW I'll be happy to take that burden off you. CCW holder for 20+ years(haven't had to take my gun out) and I'm proud to stand up and be counted! Donald R. Hohman CWO USA (RET) POW

  7. Part 1. I don't have a good answer, either, but while some worry about their safety in a public place, I feel better knowing I have the means to defend myself and others if some fool starts randomly shooting. Yes, I have a carry permit in my state and I'm also an active law enforcement officer, so I have the authority to bear arms under multiple laws. As a law enforcement officer since 1972, I have NEVER had a problem with someone who was lawfully carrying a gun under the authority of a permit or while engaged in an activity, such as hunting where they are authorized to carry a handgun on their person. The problem has always been those who are not law-abiding, and no additional gun laws or restrictions are going to stop the bad element from obtaining and using a gun. It will only increase the size of the black market in guns. New restrictions on guns will only impact the law-abiding. Controlling an object in order to influence human behavior does not work. Stacy talked about becoming numb to guns — our society has also become numb to the carnage we create on our highways.

  8. Part 3. Perhaps we should include mental health information in criminal history files so that it shows up when an instant background check is conducted. Perhaps a doctor's certification that an applicant to buy a gun has no mental health history before they are allowed to complete the purchase. We spend way too much time worrying about the privacy rights of individuals with mental health records while attempting to ignore or overlook the Constitutional and personal property, and self-defense rights of gun owners. The Center for Disease Control's own commission looked at the effect of the Brady gun control laws and found that they had absolutely no impact on the gun homicide rate while they were in effect. Bottom line — as a career law enforcement officer with some 40 years of empirical evidence to examine, I have never worried about the vast majority of law abiding gun owners and those who carry a gun, with a permit, for self-protection. I worry about the non-law abiding element that will obtain guns and use them in crimes of violence no matter how many laws and restrictions are place of the sale and possession of guns.

  9. Part 4. As a school resource officer working in a middle school, I know that the only thing that will stop an armed intruder into a school will be another armed person such as myself or an armed school staff member. The shooter in Newtown, CT forced his way into the school despite their physical secuirty measures, and only a gun would have stopped him sooner. I weep for the victim of the Newtown attack, but a knee-jerk reaction to ban or restrict guns is not what we need. We need a comprehensive review of ALL the factors in the incident, including the mental health of the perpetrator and how we can make mental health concerns more applicable to the gun-buying process. It is already against the law for a person who has been in a mental health facility or has been adjudicated mentally ill to possess a gun, but that doesn't stop them. Our drug laws already prohibit the buying, selling, cultivation, and possession of many illegal drugs but that doesn't even slow down a lucrative illicit drug market. New restrictive gun laws will NOT prevent criminals or anyone with a desire from obtaining and using a gun. States and cities with the toughest gun laws have the highest gun murder rates.

  10. Part 5. Britain and Australia have some of the most restrictive gun laws amongst "free" nations yet their gun crime rates are rising annually. And banning so-called "assault" weapons?
    There is no such thing as an assault weapon. This is a name, a tag applied to a certain type of firearm by the gun-control lobby to make them sound fearsome and dangerous. Any weapon can be used to assault. The news said the Newtown shooter killed 26 people in ten minutes. That doesn't take an "assault" rifle with a high capacity magazine. It can be easily done in less than ten minutes with an old fashioned bolt action rifle and a pocketful of bullets. We need to have a serious discussion about the causes of these violent acts. A gun will lay on the ground until it rusts and never hurt anyone until a human being picks it up and manipulates it. It isn't the gun that kills, it's the person holding the gun. It isn't the car that kills, it's the driver behind the wheel. Let's address the REAL issues.

  11. Stacey, Your livelihood as a blogger depends on the First Amendment. You said you are not a fan of the Second. You would not have the First without the Second. You can't pick and choose. It is who we are as a country. The whole 'keep and bear arms' thing is the why and how we were even able to became the greatest country in the history of this planet in the first place.

  12. I think we should be more concerned with the dehumanization of people in society. We are profiles on internet sites, text messages and names without a face.

  13. Part 2. We kill more people each year in automobiles than from all forms of murder, no matter what the weapon, but no one has proposed controlling or restricting access to motor vehicles. We prohibit habitual drunken drivers from driving but they obtain and drive vehicles anyway, and they often kill or injure again. Timothy McVeigh didn't use a gun to kill over a hundred people, including 19 children under the age of six, but no one suggested we should restrict the sale of fertilizer and diesel fuel in order to prevent a future act of that type. Rather than ban or severely restrict guns, we need to address the other factors. We hold bartenders responsible for serving too many drinks to the driver who kills on the way home from the bar. Perhaps we should hold the gun owner responsible for allowing access to their firearms when they are used in a crime or by a person whom the law says cannot have a gun. A few states already do this because of incidents where children gain access to and hurt someone while playing with a gun.

  14. Not a recommendation, just a point to consider as we open the debate on guns. I would be more inclined to favor linking mental health records to instant background checks. Under this system, if you want to buy a gun, you have to waive your right to the privacy of your mental health records. No waiver, no gun. It's more of a method to appease the gun control lobby.

  15. Madam moderator, where is my Part 2? Parts 1, 3, 4, and 5 posted without hesitation but I got the dreaded "your post must be approved" for Part 2. Sort of broke up the continuity of my comment.

  16. I can remember in the 60's and 70's when the CRAZIES were instatutionalized until a bunch of DEMOCRATS figured it "COSTS" us too much and mandated that they be "FREE"……Just how much does it cost NOW? Let's blame an inatimate object and not the real problem.

  17. Just a thought. Do we really need assalt rifles in our homes? Don't you feel that our miltary and law enforcement should be the only ones to have them? They are meant to slaughter or attack. I understand hand guns and rifles – self protection, hunting. Totally get it. Assalt rifles, machine guns? Help me understand why anyone would need them? I am trying to understand the argument for not banning them. Open to a reasonable argument.

  18. The Center for Disease Control's own commission/study found that the old assault weapon ban, which lasted ten years from 1994 to 2004, had absolutely no positive impact on gun deaths, and also that very few gun deaths are actually by assault weapons. The ban was a joke, anyway. It did not ban the weapons but only required manufacturers to remove features such as collapsible stocks, bayonet lugs, and magazines with a capacity of over ten rounds. And there were other loopholes. I legally purchased a weapon with all those features during the previous ban and so did many other people. What needs to be addressed are violent movies, video games, and a lack of moral education of our young in this country. But then you'ld be facing the powerful Hollywood and electronics arts industries, who have a lot of political pull and contribute lots of money to politicians. Mark my words, no one in the government is going to have the wherewithall to address the root problems and will instead apply the band-aid fix.

  19. "Numb to guns"…how idiotic! This country is numb from lying politicians, lying media…all trying to tell you to take Almighty God out of the equation! How dare you put the 10 commandments up that say "thou shalt not kill"….or flash in front of a thief "thou shalt not steal"….quit talking about inanimate objects you clowns…and turn back to God….from whom this country got its blessings and protections for the past couple hundred years….you don't believe it? read the papers Vern….you actually think things are better now WITHOUT GOD?

  20. We are numb to the continuing Moral Decay in American Society? Gun control is not the answer.. I do not remember after 9/11 anyone advocating banning Muslims and also when a Drunk Driver kills someone we do not advocate banning cars. Americans are Stupid and I think our demise is starting. Its just one step into bringing America under the control of the United Nations…

  21. Who was the other person dressed in camo clothing and a bullet proof vest found in the woods behind that school and arrested and escorted away in a squad car ? The mass media zombie reporters are having a fied day whipping up mass hysteria against assault rifles even though the shooters rifle was found in the trunk of his private auto by State Police officers. This entire incident is fishy and until the facts can be reported there is no way I beleive what the mass media zombies publish as supposed truths. Enforce the laws on the books and lock the mentally deranged people where they cant hurt anybody.

  22. Place a firearm on your kitchen table for a couple of days and watch it closely. Then write down everything it does on its own without any human involvement.

  23. Here is a thought. Will we need to arm our day care providers our hire more cops to protect them?

  24. Stacy, you are right: a crowded mall IS the perfect target for a madman with a gun. I imagine awful scenarios like that all the time when I’m in a public place: mall, symphony hall, church, etc. and think “what would I do?” You didn’t just FEEL helpless in that mall, you WERE helpless, and the fact is that the best way to protect yourself and your precious kids is to conceal carry a firearm.

    I never was into guns, but my soldier fiancé slowly got me comfortable with them until I got to the point where I was receptive to “If you get your CHL (Concealed Handgun License) I’ll buy you a handgun for your birthday.” I made it one of my goals for this year to do that, and I did! I’m still waiting to receive my physical license, but I am already carrying my piece in the car and I’ve gotten so in the habit, that I can’t go anywhere without it now. It is so empowering as a woman to own a gun, take it places with you, and practice at the shooting range. I hope I NEVER ever have to use it in self-defense, but I am prepared to do it if it means saving my life and others’ lives.

    If one knows how to use a handgun (and it’s not rocket science), one should feel completely comfortable conceal carrying with kids in tow. I will want to carry ESPECIALLY when I have children because I will want to be equipped to protect my babies. We cannot walk around with a victim mentality, because those are the people who get killed. I refuse to stand around and be helpless. I don’t want to be part of the “sheeple” crowd and be gunned down by a crazy person.

    I strongly am in favor of public school teachers and admin being allowed to conceal carry in school. There’s a small school district in Texas that is allowing this, and AG Greg Abbott is all in favor of it in other districts. Of course, the teachers will have to be a CHL holder as well as go through more extensive training required by the district. But if teachers can protect their students in this way, less people will die in these tragic shootings.

    I personally would love to see a pro-gun/pro-2nd Amendment post here on Spouse Buzz. This article, along with Amy Buschatz’s post “My Husband Wants a Gun in the House” on Dec. 6 aren’t exactly anti-gun, but I’m sure there are ladies who visit this site, other than myself, who feel quite comfortable with firearms. It would be interesting to read how some military wives have embraced personal defense along with their husbands.

  25. Way to Save Many Lives
    I have a suggestion that will save tens of thousands of lives in the United States of America.

    There are over two hundred million guns and, the same number of automobiles in the USA. Statistics indicate over thirty percent of deaths involving autos are caused by excessive speed. I suggest putting governors on all autos to limit the maximum speed of autos to forty-five miles per hour.
    This makes much more sense than limiting the number of bullets one can have in a firearm.
    We register autos but, this has no effect on auto deaths.
    We require individuals to pass tests to obtain a driver’s license but, this has no effect on auto deaths.
    Statically the above proposal reducing auto speeds will save many more lives than limiting number of bullet a firearm can fire before reloading. What’s so magical about fifteen bullets that makes it worse than thirteen. It’s time for logic to be applied

  26. Can We Afford Armed Security in Schools
    Before one rejects out of hand the proposed idea as costing too much consider the following. We provide most schools with school lunches because of concern for student’s nutritional health. We provide psychologists for the mental health wellbeing of students. We provide guidance counselors to provide help in choosing students future careers. We provide already in some schools unarmed security personnel for safety. Why not provide armed personnel to protect our student’s lives, possibly an administrator, a teacher ,a counselor, a psychologist , a security person, or a facility’s staff member could assume this responsibility ?

  27. I'd feel more secure in the mall or elsewhere, if when I reached in my pocket I'd feel a gun, knowing it was there in case I needed it to protect my life and my child. I sympathize with the few and minor tragedies of our times, but I will not allow any knee-jerk, overreactions by liberals to erode my freedoms. On any given day we face a scintillionth of a percentage point of probability that our life will be changed by a random act of violence, but we must hold onto the higher odds that our life will go on. Fear not death as it is God calling you home, but fear death as you have much to accomplish until then.

  28. (Retired)SFC Ivan L. Baros Sr. | December 27, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  29. I believe the founding father meant what they wrought, the second amendment is not written to protect citizens right to hunt, it is the right to bear arms. That right is not just to protect ourselves and family members from individuals who would do us harm, but also from a government that seeks the same. I believe laws are needed and it would be great if the ones that are currently in place were informed (including holding the government to those laws). I see the problem as being one of the human heart, which has the capacity to do evil, wether with a club, a sword, a box cutter, etc. etc.

    Did prohibition stop individuals from drinking? Do the current drug laws stop people from doing drugs? Let me help you out with the answer, the law only guides the law abiding. Do yourself and society a favor, research the human atrocities that have occurred in the name of gun control.

    Let me take this a little further! While what has happened with this recent event in Newton is tragic, what about the millions of unborn that have been killed for the sake of convenience? I assume you are equally or hopefully more outraged because of this excepted policy, or just numb? What kind of sick society have we become when the right of an individual who seeks to protect his family is threatened while the right of a mother to end the life of her unborn is lifted up.

  30. David Burnham | December 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm |

    I own a rifle that has been handed down from my grandfather. I used it once for deer hunting with my father. I keep it, unloaded, stored separate from its ammunition. When I die it will be passed on to another American citizen who knows the meaning of the Second Amendment of our Republic's Constitution. It is a weapon to counter aggression from Governments, foreign and domestic. An unarmed citizen is a slave that will become a victim. An armed citizen is a patriot that will die fighting for freedom from government tyrants.

  31. I don’t like Tee-Jay.

  32. The gunman in the Oregon mall shooting was stopped by a citizen that was armed and licensed to carry a weapon. Upon being confronted by the armed citizen, he chose to take his own life. How many fewer casualties would there have been in Colorado had ther been armedersons in the theater. Without being armed, we are all just a bunch of sheep waiting for the big bad wolf to have its way.

  33. Because a felon was shooting carelessly you want to take guns away from those who are not felons?

    I'm glad you and your family are all right but the police and firemen are not everywhere nor do they have a duty to protect any individual. I've read it took 20 minutes for the Newton police to arrive on the scene and I know in my hometown it took 30 minutes for the firefighters to arrive at a gas station fire that was across the street from the firehouse. The owner's business was a total loss.

    As a parent I feel its my duty to protect my family with every asset available and I will do that with every tool I have available and my body as a last resort. My 21 years of service has taken its toll on my and I am not as fit as most typical assailants. As the sole adult in the household I will almost certainly be outnumbered as well. I need every advantage I can get to protect my family for however long is needed until help arrives, if it arrives.

  34. Excellent post Stacy.

  35. As a retired Army/Guard veteran of both VN & Desert who has helped train field medics for IRQ & AFGN, the specter of a running firefight between armed vigilantes, doomsday militia types and sociopaths with semi-automatic weapons and legal concealed weapons carriers is always on my mind.
    One day, this nation will face a gun battle with well armed individuals bent on a big body count in some crowded shopping mall, parking lot or school and regular citizens with side arms returning fire and innocent people, caught in the crossfire will suffer preventable casualties.
    This is the nightmare scenario the NRA will have to face one day in spite of its second amendment propaganda. Mark my words, it will eventually happen and all the rhetoric will not change the death toll of that atrocity.

  36. In an interview with Barbara Walters conducted prior to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook, President Obama said that he liked having "men with guns" around his daughters at all times for protection.
    I would like to see the list of the illegal's on welfare also.

  37. I believe that the focus is too much on the tool of the crime than the crime itself. Why do we allow a criminal who kills to continue to live when their victim’s lives have been stolen? Why is it acceptable to continue to provide care and welfare to a criminal that took the life of a child?
    The gun is not the issue. The disjointed response of the criminal justice system to punish the guilty is the problem. Law abiding citizens do not need to be hindered by yet more pointless laws when the punishment for violation is not administered properly or with uniformity.
    I see clearly that there is no consequence to the guilty. As soon as there is a crime, there is someone who will represent the accused and “justice” will progress. But it does not. Legal maneuvering, posturing, and political considerations take precedence over justice. The victims have no voice, the criminals gain additional rights and in the end we have proof that once again justice is blind, not because all people are treated fairly, but because the punishment does not fit the crime, nor does it deter future crime.

  38. Rock, Fire, Knife, Sword, Arrow, Gun, Explosive. All of these things are tools… developed for a purpose. Left alone sitting on the ground do nothing. Put them in your or anyone's hand… for what purpose are they now. It is not the tool it is the person wielding it. Put the blame where it is due, not the inanimate object – the person utilizing it!

  39. Funny a soldier's wife not a 'FAN' of the Second Amendment. Your husband sworn an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic;…". You should be a fan of the entire document…and YES I did serve US ARMY 6 years.

  40. Russell Middleton | January 16, 2013 at 5:23 pm |

    That the massacre of innocents in Newtown, Conn. is a horrific tragedy is without doubt. As for life changing? I'd like you to read ALL THE WAY DOWN THE SLIPPERY SLOPE: GUN PROHIBITION IN ENGLAND AND SOME LESSONS FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES IN AMERICA by Joseph E. Olson and David B. Kopel before making up your mind. I live seven miles from Dunblane, Scotland, be careful of seemingly irresistible floods of public grief lead by the main stream media. As John Adams said in a letter to his wife Abigail Adams – July 7, 1775, "Liberty once lost is lost forever."

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