Our National Shooting Spree Continues

By on December 27, 2012
Tomasz Kaczowka

Tomasz Kaczowka

The holidays brought no relief from the controversy surrounding our on-going national shooting spree. On Christmas Eve four firefighters in Webster, New York, responding to a residential fire, were shot at with fatal results. Two of the men, including 19-year old volunteer Tomasz Kaczowka filling in so other members could spend the holiday with family were killed. Two were wounded. The other fatality was Deputy Police Chief Mike Chiapperini also volunteering. It hardly seems fair.

According to reports from the Rochester New York suburb, the perpetrator who was dead at the scene was a 62-year old man with a history of mental problems who had killed his grandmother with a hammer in July 1981. From evidence at the scene, investigators have determined that William Spengler set the fires as a lure with the intentions of shooting at firemen responding. Spengler’s 67-year old sister Cheryl living at the same address is missing and unaccounted for.

No doubt our friends at the NRA lobby will now want armed guards responding to every fire in the US. That’s a lot more guns in public places. Maybe we should give everyone a gun the way this problem is progressing. It would certainly be a massive firearm stimulus to the economy. And I would assume if everyone had their own Uzi, we would all feel safe.

Certainly the Webster circumstances are troubling. The fire company there is all-volunteer. But no good volunteer wants to put his or her life on the line every time a call comes in about a local fire. This is a situation that deserves national attention and I don’t mean just the chattering classes or talking heads.

And there is no doubt that this incident says something more about this country’s ill-treatment of the mentally ill. As in so much these days, tax payers don’t want to pay for this or institutionalization, but they want something done. Three-hundred years ago, even the mildly disturbed were institutionalized. There were many abuses. Today we let the community and the family shoulder the burden of dealing with mental illness, even if they don’t have the resources. And there are still problems.

TomaszWe are dealing with a complex nation-wide problem here, and not doing a very good job. The NRA refuses to address their part of the problem. The recommendation of the Biden group charged by the president after Sandy Hook become even more important. No doubt the paranoid lunatic fringe on the right will scream bloody murder whatever is recommended. But for sanity’s sake, something of a complex multi-faceted nature must be initiated. The current situation is out-of-control and intolerable.

The media also has dirty hands in this as well. Giving a fair and balanced account does not mean running to any lobbyist or warm body with an alternative opinion. Intelligent solutions come in the form of sane negotiation worked out in the middle, not battles with the lunatic fringe.

If our current 24-7 press had been reporting progress on the passage of the thirteenth amendment or woman’s suffrage or fluoridation, they never would have happened. We’d still have the slave-owning, misogynistic, edentulous  counterpart to Rush Limbaugh yelling away at us, threatening retribution, from a hole in some hollowed-out tree not far from Plymouth Rock. Responsible journalism is thoughtful journalism. Firefighter Kaczowka’s family deserves at least that.

Tom Godfrey


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