I'm the kind of person who skips to the conversation when reading a book.
At church, on Sunday, I was in the kitchen talking with a couple of men. One fellow is involved with real estate; he works for a company that purchases farms and subdivides them. The other is a math teacher who had strategically positioned himself next to the plate of Rice Krispie treats so he could help himself.
The real estate guy said, “My boss thinks if he tags Cooperstown in the description, it increases the value of the land. Why, he’ll take properties north of Richfield Springs and call them Cooperstown.”
“He’ll have to be careful,” I said, knowing the area, “not to mention Mohawk or Herkimer for a while.”
Mohawk and Herkimer are north of Richfield Springs. These two towns were rocked last week by a crazy man with a gun. The shootings, which took place in a barber shop and a Jiffy Lube, were the work of a man described as an unemployed loner with high credit card debt. It was a tragedy whose magnitude can only be understood by someone from a small town, where everybody knows everybody else by sight, if not by name.
I know Mohawk and Herkimer. I’ve driven their streets and shopped in their stores. They are Thruway exits to most people, but I can tell you that some of the best bread on the planet is baked in Herkimer at the Heidelberg Baking Company. Herkimer also has beautiful quartz crystals unique to the area and thus called Herkimer diamonds. Mohawk used to have a Duofold factory with a true factory outlet store; it was one of our regular stops when doing back-to-school shopping. Mohawk also has an awesome hill leading down into it (Vickerman Hill), complete with a runaway truck detour with barrels for crashing into, to keep anyone from ending up in the barge canal.
Yes, I know this area. I was sorely grieved to hear the news, and followed it that day. It made me incredibly sad. One news story that I read made a point of mentioning that a neighboring town, Ilion, is home to a Remington Arms factory. I laughed when I saw that, as if the proximity of a factory that makes guns somehow incited this man to shoot people. It’s ridiculous.
I’m not a gun fan. I don’t own a gun. I don’t plan on owning a gun. I’ve never shot a gun. I don’t plan on shooting guns. But I don’t think the Remington Arms factory was a factor in this shooting. And I took offense that it was even suggested.
I said so in the kitchen at church. “Did you see where some were mentioning the Remington Arms factory in Ilion in the same story about the shooting?” I asked.
The math teacher piped in, “It’s even better than that. Cuomo showed up in Mohawk.”
Andrew Cuomo is our governor. “I heard on the radio that he was travelling from Albany to these towns shortly after the shootings,” I said. “I thought it was a nice gesture.”
Math teacher man snorted. “Yeah, he got there, found out it wasn’t a rifle that was used, but a shotgun, and he packed up and left.”
I felt sick inside. Talk about politicizing a tragedy.
“Yeah,” the math teacher said, “he was just looking for a way to get more support for his gun control legislation.”
I’ve searched the news since to find out if the math teacher is right. I found where the Governor “advised people in the area to stay home, out of the area, and off the streets until the situation comes to a conclusion.” Thank you for those words of wisdom. I wouldn’t have thought of that myself.
May I suggest that unemployment and debt played a bigger role in the shooting that the actual weapon?
May I suggest that the government work for ways to create real jobs, not governmental nonsense, and allow people to be gainfully employed?
May I suggest that anti-gun legislation will do nothing to stop these shootings, but more likely put at risk the 1200 jobs at places like the Remington Arms factory? (Remington Arms is not closing up shop though. They are putting in a $20 million upgrade. If I were a gun person, which I’m not, I would go buy a Remington Arms gun, just to support them.)
May I suggest that tragedies not be politicized? Grieve with people. Comfort people. Don’t take someone else’s pain and manipulate it for your agenda.