The Land of the Stupid

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

February 24, 2009


Categories: Family

We must live in the Land of the Stupid.  Every day this month, something in the paper has indicated we need to be legislated more.  Apparently, according to the Oregonian, we aren’t legislated enough, and we need to be further protected from the very bad things people do in this world.

I’m going to begin this blog by going personal to really show why I believe the way I do on this subject.

My sister, Cristi Curtis, was murdered by her very recently made ex-boyfriend July 19, 2007.  Joseph Frees then turned the gun on himself and committed suicide.  It was, as is so apparent in the news, one of those typical murder-suicide occurrences.  Joseph, as it happens, was a law-abiding gun owner.  The Wyoming, Michigan police theorized he was much like his mother in his desire for collecting things.  She collected something like stamps and he collected guns.  It doesn’t turn deadly until someone makes the choice to use them for the deadly force they can inflict.

I was quite conflicted regarding my ideas of gun ownership after this happened.  I firmly believe the 2nd amendment needs to be upheld in its vaguest terms lest we acquiesce to a police state.  But, now my sister was dead, and if guns were made illegal, she would still be alive.  Maybe bloodied and badly bruised, but chances are she’d still be alive.  We’d still have Cristi in our lives, a special person who touched so many.  But, after some time, I came to realize the only true right Cristi had was a right to the love we her family and friends gave her.  And the only protected right she had was to be protected by the love we gave her.

Joseph was drunk, something he rarely did, and probably in a rage because Cristi wanted to end their tangled relationship.  He acted out his rage and made choices that he will have to answer for to a higher power than any we here on earth can provide.

Two weeks ago, here in Oregon, a young, troubled man, Eric Ayala, killed two random teens and then shot himself.  He died a day later in the hospital.  He wounded 7 others.  Countless lives were affected by this tragedy because of the witnesses, its location, and the lives all involved touched.  It’s a sad, horrific event.  The Oregonian is now suggesting stricter gun laws to be able to predict if someone who was once diagnosed with a mental illness, such as schizofrenia, be not allowed to own a handgun.

According to the Department of Justice, the relationship for 1/3 of victims between them and their assailants were unknown.  For 14% of homicides, the assailant was  a stranger.  For the remainder, about 65%, the assailant was an ‘intimate’, which means a friend, boyfriend/girlfriend, spouse, ex-spouse, or other family member.  Overall, the relationship between guns or no gun used in a crime is about even.  For intimate crimes, guns are the preferred weapon of choice.  The most important thing to note, however, is that crime, overall has dropped from a peak of 10.2 per 100,000 in 1980 to 5.6 per 100,000 in 2005.  The rate of about 6 per 100,000 has been steady since the end of the 1990s.

Would we ever be able to erase crime without limiting a persons ability to choose and their own personal freedom?  Sure, one person’s rights end where another’s nose begins, but we are all free to choose.  We’re all free to make bad choices, but we must suffer the consequences.  We have systems  in place to offer those consequences.  So, if we imprison those who break our laws, like murder or other ways of infringing another’s right, we pay the consequences.  But, when is enough enough.  When do we ask the question, “Have we gone too far in our quest to make our lives safer?”  At what point do we stop legislating and start living.

The fact remains, Cristi made her choice to live with Joe and not listen to whatever instincts were telling her to leave.  Joe made his choice and instead of finding healthy ways to express his feelings, he took his angst and anger out on his girlfriend and then himself.  Bad choices to be sure.  Our family and the community have suffered a great loss, but the lesson to be learned here isn’t more laws to protect the unprotected.  The lesson to be learned is that we should focus our attentions on strengthening the relationships we currently have.  Enjoy the precious moments we have with each other and let our love for reach other be our protection.  As hard as it is to take, we do not have the right to tell another what to do.  We need to be responsible adults and let others make their own mistakes, even if the mistake grates on our nerves and takes loved ones away.  It’s not fair, and we’ve all heard it before – life is not fair.  But, we shouldn’t be turning to the legislators to make it better.  That responsibility is ours and ours alone.  And, when we do defer to the legislator to make choices for us, we end up with vague laws that dictate our lives, herding us into a future where the blind will lead the blind.  And, that, truly would be the land of the stupid.


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