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Holinger: Sandy Hook and the goose

Published: Friday, Jan. 4, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

“Hey, Dad,” Jay called, “there’s a goose on our lawn.”

Indeed, a Canada goose sat with its bulbous body planted as if nesting, its black neck and head alert. I went for the camera, imagining next year’s Christmas card – “The Holingers get goosed!”

“Dad, c’mere! A runner scared it. It’s taking off.”

As we opened the door, something thumped against the side of the house. Outside, in our small fenced-in blockade, one eye bloodied, breast blotched crimson, stood the goose.

“There’s no animal control for this,” I said. “Let’s call the police.”

Soon, two officers were studying the wounded bird. “It doesn’t pose a threat to civilians,” one said, “so there’s really nothing we can do.”

By then, our neighbor, John, had strolled over. “You pluck the feathers,” he negotiated, “I’ll cook the bird.” With options and hope depleted, we were left with dark humor.

Suddenly the bird’s wings hammered the air, lifting it across the street where, half-blind, it flew into cobwebbed branches, dropped onto the lawn beneath, and bounced cartoon-like into a low stone wall.

Like the sawyers in Robert Frost’s “Out, Out – ” who “Were not the one dead,” we turned back to our affairs. With no systemic human rescue available, nature – likely a coyote – would bring resolution.

Recently, the nation had mourned the Newtown, Conn., school innocents. Driving home from school that day, I listened to President Barack Obama – pausing to wipe away tears – say that every parent in America would hug their children tighter that night, and my eyes watered along with the world’s.

My inability to help the goose recalled those post-Newtown emotions; the aftermath of such brutality called for a shift in attitude to procure solutions. However, even though 62 percent of Americans polled by CNN/ORC International supported banning semiautomatic assault guns and high-capacity clips – and an overwhelming number of gun-owning Congressmen from both parties have called for changes in firearm and ammo clip procurement – the National Rifle Association didn’t budge.

Yup, ignoring cultural evolution since 1791 when the Second Amendment allowed an armed population protection from frustrated Native Americans and disgruntled bears, the NRA stuck to its guns. CEO Wayne LaPierre advocated putting more guns in schools, in spite of gun-toting guards’ failure to stop Columbine’s shooters.

What motivates the NRA’s balking to regulate hyperbolic firepower? Mother Jones writer Siddhartha Mahanta suggests the organization’s role as a lobby for gun manufacturers: “Is the NRA advocating for people who own guns? Or the lucrative companies that make them? ... The Center for Public Integrity’s Peter Stone writes about MidwayUSA, a gun manufacturer that sells high-capacity magazines ... and its close ties to the NRA’s lobbying wing.”

In her writing, Mahanta cites from Stone’s report that “ ... some of these vendors of high-capacity magazines also boast executives who are board members of the NRA.”

Consequently, an army of armed guards means more firearm and ammunition sales – not fewer.

Therefore, even given this new year’s hopeful genesis, the goose may remain sitting, innocent and alert, as night lopes forward to feed, its long, moonlit muzzle armed to the teeth.

• Rick Holinger has taught high school English and lived in the Fox Valley for nearly 35 years. His poetry, fiction, essays and book reviews have appeared in more than 100 literary magazines, and he founded and facilitates the St. Charles Writers Group. Contact him at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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