In Response- Feedback on Pine Journal editorial on school shootings

Ran across "Difficult questions remain decades after Grand Rapids school shooting" on Google News. Different world we live in today than 1966. In October 1966 I was a recent Clover Valley High School graduate (that school is long gone and now ser...

Ran across "Difficult questions remain decades after Grand Rapids school shooting" on Google News. Different world we live in today than 1966. In October 1966 I was a recent Clover Valley High School graduate (that school is long gone and now served by Two Harbors School District) and well on my way to Vietnam. My wife, however, was attending school in Rapids when that happened. I learned of the shooting some years later. What struck me at that time as a returning combat vet was, so he only shot two people. It could have been worse, that weapon had an 8- to 10-round clip. He fired two shots, hit two people - it could have been a lot worse if he was so inclined. Now remember this sort of thing just was not a common thing in 1966.

What was common in 1966 was we at our high school, like most in the state at that time, held Department of Conservation (DNR now) gun safety class in our school and did the firing portion on the football field out back of the school. OMG! No one got shot.

It was common practice during hunting season (pick one) if you where going hunting with a friend at his place after school to bring your gun and ammo with you to school on the school bus and when you got there to put it in the principal's office with the rest of them, pick it up on your way out the door, get on the bus and go to your buddies hunting. OMG! No one got shot.

When I was in Vietnam and a Crew Chief/Door Gunner on Huey Gunships I carried a .45 auto pistol 24/7 with a total of 3 clips - one in the pistol at all times and a round in the chamber. I had an M-14 rifle in my wall locker at the base camp and was assigned an M-79 40mm grenade launcher. On my helicopter I had an M-60 machine gun and 1,500 rounds of ammo and over 8,000 more on the ship I could access. This was typical for every air crew member of my unit. Did we shoot one another, NO. Did we shoot the bad guy, yes; did we shoot some people that where not bad guys, yes we/I did and that is something I have to live with for the rest of my life. We, a part of the civilized world, do that sort of thing to each other. We still are today. Point being, even with more or less unlimited fire power at our disposal we did not shoot each other.

Somewhere in the last 50 years guns did not become evil. Somewhere during that time people changed. Somewhere along the line committing this type of thing became rational to some folks. Our sense of right and wrong has become warped. We are raising young people who do not reject this type of thing out of hand when it comes to mind. Hells Bells, the thought of that sort of thing never entered your head.


We as a society need to figure out how to deal with the several generations of folks we have raised with a warped set of values. It is much easier to blame [the] tool the unbalance person used for the terrible act than to blame our society for creating such a monster. You will not see a parent, educator, politician (for sure), anyone in the entertainment industry standing up and saying, "Oh you know what, I should have done a better job of instilling values in that person," or "I know that person had issues but you know it is not my job" or "We can't have that person feeling bad about themselves." After all I know they are going to turn out a real nut case but no child should be left behind, we can mainstream them, all we need are some drugs.

I am not too sure what an "assault rifle/weapon" is. I know it as it applies to military weapons. Now days it has become part of the boogy man vocabulary to describe any firearm you take a disliking to. I myself find the military style semi auto rifles of little use to me. They are ill suited to any type of shooting I do. They lack accuracy, are less than optimal when it comes to packing them around in the brush where stealth is the game. Do I own one, NO, do I want to, NO. Do I think removing them from the market, or all guns for that matter, will change anything, NO. There are no end of thing you can use to kill and maim large numbers of people. History shows that we as a species can be very creative when it comes to mayhem.

Laws, like locks, keep honest people honest. Most crimes committed with weapons (of any type) are committed by people who under the law are not supposed to even have them in their possession. Laws only work when you are dealing with the law abiding.

We need to work on giving young kids a good set of values. Take action to identify persons with problems before they go off the deep end. Put an end to permissive parenting, schooling and our ill-mannered society.

Guns are not the problem; we as a society are the problem. After all it takes a village to raise an idiot.

By the way, in the grand picture this is a small issue. Our county is in so much trouble right now we will be lucky to survive another five or 10 years. We are so close to self-destruction just a bit more and we will go the same way as the former USSR.

I may be just wasting my words here. Most folks who write things like yours are looking for an easy fix and someone or thing to blame. Reading your article you seem to be smarter than that and a bit of a thinker. Oh well if you are not, I gave you my slant on it. I have always been in favor of debate, sort of like "if you don't vote, sit down, shut up, you are not allowed to complain."

I just hope we can fix it and become a kinder gentler bunch and stop killing each other.


Ted Gustafson, Grand Rapids

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