COLUMN: Bullets

Harry Caines contributes a weekly column to His column is a work of opinion, and does not reflect the views of Cache Valley Daily, the Cache Valley Media Group, or its employees.

There are bullets flying all over Cache Valley lately.

In recent months, a man shot up a hospital, another man shot at an occupied car in a busy parking lot…and just recently a man killed two people in what appears at this writing to be a simple case of jealous rage.

None of these incidents are related. But, are they correlated? Even the most extreme of sociologists would find a hard time making an argument as to any particular “culture” being to blame for this phenomenon. But that will most likely happen, even if just in peripheral conversations.

There are a lot of guns in Utah. Yet, somehow the amount of gun-related crimes is paltry. This is especially true in Cache Valley—until recently. I will listen to, but would have a hard time accepting, any argument regarding the recent spate of gun incidents being a product of too many guns around.

I usually avoid the gun discussion in this column because I see both sides as being logical and flawed. Knowing we have a heavily armed citizenry here in Cache Valley makes many petty criminals re-evaluate the when and where of their profession extensively. I would find it uneasy to be a thief looking to rob a house knowing the second I enter the abode uninvited that I have signed away my life to a gun-toting homeowner with the right to protect what belongs to them.

You get better odds of a payoff with Powerball.

The counter argument is one that I have made many times with a somewhat condescending sense of humor. I will make the argument again begging the forgiveness of anyone who takes offense given that innocent young people have recently lost their lives—there is no humor in that at all.

I have been told by many that owning many guns, including assault rifles, is a guaranteed right of all Americans. That a militia is still a vital part of America in 2014. That if the U.S. government over exceeds its power it is up to regular Joes to take up arms and overthrow the tyrants in Washington.

If it came to that—a war between angry white guys in Utah and Idaho and the U.S. Government—I have to say that I would side with Uncle Sam over Bubba and Cleetus.

The devil you know…

But that is the larger argument. On the ground, in the lobby of a hospital, or the parking lot of a box store, or in someone’s living room when someone shoots a gun in this quirky enclave of hamlets we call Cache Valley, we all feel it.

Why now? I have lived here 10 years. Nearly every crime committed in Cache Valley is petty in nature. I moved here with three young children a decade ago because there was no crime here. For all the complaining I do about life in northern Utah, when my kids are out and about, I do not worry about them.

Now, with the first two events being so random, the oldest, most basic fear every parent has is back in my mind. Will the next random gun incident be where they are? Are they really safe? Will they know what to do if someone starts shooting off a gun near them?

Randomness does that. It makes you ask sophistical questions that have no logical answers. Randomness just is. And hoping my kids will know what to do if randomness points a gun their way is misguided and a futile endeavor.

But what of the tragic event that happened Monday night? How do we come to terms with the knowledge that MacKenzie Madden and Johnathan Sadler are dead because another young man not only had what appears to be jealous feelings toward Ms. Madden but was willing to use a rifle to “heal” that pain by the most horrific means?

The concept of a jilted love interest is nothing new. Few things feel as bad as being discarded for another lover. And yes, history is littered with examples–true and literary–of the rejected seeking revenge on those who left them behind.

But not here. People that live here who are filled with rage that the one they love is in another’s arms do not break down the door and shoot them dead. That is not the way we do things in these parts.

Until now.

I will not give the monster who killed Madden and Sadler the legitimacy he does not deserve by suggesting he is an example of a larger problem. I wrote a <a href=”” target=”_blank”>column a few weeks back</a> where I would not do it for the psychopaths who have committed mass shootings over the last few decades. The same principle applies in this case.

But THIS case is on the streets I walk on every day. This case involves two young people not much older than my kids who are dead for no reason other than the disturbed mind of someone who had a gun at his disposal and a warped reason to use it acted on his darkest urges.

There are people who own guns in this place who now, for no apparent reason, seem to have the will and desire to shoot their weapons wherever people are. It has happened three times recently. To be satisfied believing that there is not a fourth person out there who is going to use bullets to get their point across is woefully short-sighted and nothing more than wishful thinking.

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