I confess that my father was a hunter. He collected guns. He once joked that the only Bible in his house was "The Shooter's Bible: The World's Bestselling Firearms." It was his favorite book. It's still a bestseller across America. When my father passed away, we sold his rifles and handguns, and I burned the book.
For the past few days, I've thought of "The Shooter's Bible" while I watched the news. Twenty-eight people shot dead in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty of them innocent little children. The eighteenth mass murder event of 2012 across America, all of them involving guns.
Here in Hawaii, one often sees bumper stickers on cars. "GUN CONTROL: REMEMBER XEROX"
On November 2, 1999, Byran Uyesugi, a 40 year-old copy-machine repairman at Xerox Hawaii, walked into the Xerox Corp. Building in Honolulu, and killed seven co-workers - husbands, fathers, brothers - innocent men who spent their days repairing photocopying machines. It was, and still remains, the worst mass murder in Hawaii's history.
At Uyesugi's trial, a forensic psychiatrist for the defense testified that he was a schizophrenic, a man suffering from delusional disorders, desperately in need of hospitalization and supervision. Yet he had been at large in the community, he was employed by a major corporation. Though he pled 'not guilty on grounds of insanity,' after ninety minutes deliberation, the jury found Uyesugi sane, and guilty on seven counts of murder. Because Hawaii has no death penalty, he was sentenced to life imprisonment, with no possibility of parole. (He is believed incarcerated in Louisiana. Hawaii is not safe for him.)
When asked why he gunned down seven co-workers, Uyesugi's answer befitted his troubled mind. Copy machines were becoming more sophisticated; he feared he would fail the new training and lose his job. His co-workers constantly belittled him and laughed at him. If he killed them, they would not witness his forced departure.
But put more simplistically, Uyesugi murdered his co-workers because he could. He possessed the gun-power.
On that morning of November 2, he drove to the Xerox Building in a van, chose a 9-millimeter Glock semiautomatic handgun from his arsenal of NINETEEN WEAPONS in the van, entered the building and gunned down his co-workers. (All of the nineteen firearms in Uyesugi's possession were found to be legally registered.)
After killing his co-workers, Uyesugi casually waved goodbye to other workers crouched in the corridors, then fled in the van. He drove up Tantalus Drive, a picturesque drive through a rainforest to the top of Mt. Tantalus, overlooking the city of Honolulu. Pursued by squad units of police, he held them at a standoff for five hours while he shouted, toyed with his weapons, and smoked cigarettes.
Uyesugi had parked near the Hawaii Nature Center, where thirty-five children were gathered that day to study various ecosystems of Hawaii's rainforests. Alerted by police and the FBI, the Nature Center immediately went into lockdown. For the next five hours, thirty-five little children were forced to lie flat on a wooden floor, and to be silent. For five hours their parents wept and prayed. Mercifully, Uyesugi finally grew bored, and surrendered.
Our children of Honolulu survived. The children of Newtown, Connecticut did not.
What will it take, I wonder, for the pro-gun politicians in Congress, and the National Rifle Association, to wake up? When will they stop equating new gun-reforms with the 'loss of American Freedom?' What does that 'freedom' mean in a country where schools are forced to become armed fortresses? Where children - our future - are afraid to go to church, to the movies, to the mall. They are afraid to fall asleep at night.
It is said that our hearts are tough muscles, that hearts mend. I do not believe the hearts of the parents in Newtown will mend. What I would hope for them is that they rise up and, in the name of their slain children, demand of our federal government radical new gun-reforms. Demand that no one but a law enforcement officer be allowed to own a firearm.
If that is construed as a curtailment of our Constitutional rights 'to bear arms,' then maybe its time for extreme Constitutional updating.
Because, what good is American Freedom when your child lies dead?