"This is part of our heritage. This is part of what it took to settle this land. I cannot turn my back on that," said Ed Vigil, Colorado Representative from District 62. The "this" of which he spoke was guns. That was his reason not to vote for Colorado's new gun control measures: Heritage. Not courage or patience or just plain-old-plains stubbornness. It was the guns that helped our forefathers settle this land. Guns played a big factor in clearing the land of the native fauna of the region. It is also telling that Ed hails from southeastern Colorado, near the site of the Massacre at Sand Creek. Guns played a major part in that event as well. Just not for the Native American women and children who were killed there. So important was this show of our guns that a National Park has been erected there. I can't help but think that Mister Vigil has a somewhat romanticized vision of the Old West.
I mention this because just last month the kids in our fifth grade classes were asked to write essays about their heritage. Most of them chose to describe the holidays, foods and traditions of their native lands. A number of them were excited by the potential of adding an illustration to the end of their report, after they had re-written and corrected all their grammar and spelling. There was a subset of these kids who were anxious to try and find a way to include a picture of guns at the end of their essay. When I asked them if they truly felt that guns were part of heritage, this subset of boys didn't flinch before answering, "Yes." As their teacher, I discouraged this notion, and asked them to think a little deeper about their culture. There had to be something else about their families and experience in urban Oakland that they wanted to highlight. I guess I had better not introduce them to the wisdom of Representative Vigil.