Life experiences shape, change our beliefs

I’ve lived most of my life in small towns.

I’ve never had anyone point a gun at me, or try to rob me.

In college, my car was burglarized once and my 8-track player and tapes stolen.

I remember feeling angry and violated.

Afterward, I took precautions and put my tape player and tapes in the trunk of my car before going to class.

We are shaped by our life experiences, and we react and adjust our beliefs accordingly.

I’ve always felt safe.

I never worried about my son at the bus stop or in school.

Never worried about the strange car in my driveway.

Or walking around downtown Glens Falls late at night.

Maybe if I had been threatened sometime in my life, I would feel differently about owning a firearm.

Maybe if a friend of family member had been a victim, I might feel differently.

Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio), a staunch supporter of gun rights throughout his nine terms in Congress, changed his mind this week.

His daughter and a friend were in a bar across the street from the Dayton shooting. They saw it all. It must have hit home with Turner.

“The carnage these military-style weapons are able to produce when available to the wrong people is intolerable,” Turner said in a statement.

He said he would vote for a weapons ban and background checks.

Closer to home, you might remember that two days after the Parkland, Florida, shooting, a teenager was arrested in Fair Haven, Vermont — just over the border from Whitehall — for allegedly plotting an attack at Fair Haven Union High School.

Police found a shotgun, 17 rounds of ammunition and four books about school shootings in the trunk of his car. He later told police he wanted to exceed the body count of the Virginia Tech shooting, which was 32.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican with an A rating from the NRA who had campaigned against background checks on gun sales and bragged about his safe full of guns in his home, said he was shocked by the news.

He said he thought that Vermont was the safest state in the nation and immune to mass shootings.

Scott said he did some “soul searching” and two months later signed into law three gun control measures.

“I was wrong. And that’s not always easy to admit,” Scott said when signing the bill into law. Many in Vermont were not happy with him.

When was the last time you heard a politician say he was wrong?

When was the last time any of us has said it?

Consider this as well:

The British Medical Journal did a study comparing state gun laws with the frequency of mass shootings in each state. It concluded the more permissive the gun laws and greater the gun ownership in a state, the higher rate there was of mass shootings.

Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.) received donations from the NRA when he was elected to Congress in 2016.

When one of his personal friends was killed at the Parkland shooting a year later, Mast decided to call for a ban on assault weapons and support background checks on all private sales.

He said he changed his mind at the funeral.

What none of the three politicians ever addressed was why they didn’t feel the same way after Columbine.

Or the murder of 20 children at Sandy Hook.

Or 32 students at Virginia Tech.

Or the massacres in Las Vegas and Orlando.

It had to hit close to home for them to change their mind.

That was way too late.