Why I Am In Awe Of “Blue Lives” And My Brother Neil.

Did you ever wonder why you are alive, why you were created?  Understand what I am about to share with you and you are one step closer to the answer and to why you should be in awe of most Police Officers.

When I was a little kid, about 3 years old, I recall thinking that almost all beings of my age were insane!  I watched one day as my parent’s guest’s children hit each other, pulled toys from each other’s hands and put buggers in their mouths!  I heartily contrived a method to convince my parents to let me listen to adult conversation in the living room so that I did not have to play with “other children.”   These other children,  were kids my age. However, it was the first time we ever had other children at my home.  We had never invited other “small people” too my home before.   Because of this experience, I had my first glimpse of understanding the  reason for the values my parents were trying to teach me.  Values about what matters, at least in behaviour.  You might say it was my first child’s eye view of what appeared to me to be Sodom and Gomorrah.

Many years later, 67 to be exact, my brother Neil, suggested that I needed a gun because the the lunacy, I had learned about at age 3, had not all dissipated with the laundering of young minds in churches, synagogues and educational institutions.

It was at this time, that I retired from 44 years of doing the opposite of, what I thought those violentminneapolis_police_1959_traffic_control 3 year old had done, my practice of medicine as an eye doctor. Considering the news and corruption in our government,  I thought Neil was correct in suggesting I needed a gun!  In fact he suggested I needed a concealed carry permit too.  My wife who is the most compassionate caring person I have ever known, thought she should have a gun too, even though the thought of it frightened her.  We had just moved to Florida, from NY, and it is slightly easier to acquire and carry a gun in Florida than in NY.  I also think it is “safer” on the streets of Florida than it was in NY. Nevertheless we proceeded to purchase firearms and learn to use them under the expert training of my licensed and accredited teacher, Neil.

Was I comfortable with guns?  For 8 years, when I was a teenager, I went to Coral Gables H.S. and to the University of Miami in Florida.  Back then the Everglades was just a short ride away, on my motorcycle.  With shot guns strapped to the back of my bike, we would head out to the wilderness and hunt for birds for lunch (most frequently dining on fine Whoppers at Burger King as the birds were quicker than we were).  Despite this familiarity with weapons,  even holding a pistol 50 years later was unnerving!  My shotgun was, by contrast,  easy.  Crack it open and look to see if its two chambers were loaded or empty; the pistol was a mystery.  The safety always turned on when you loaded the shotgun. It was hard to make a mistake.  The pistol was a black box with what looked like too many possibilities to make a mistake.  Worse yet, Neil said, that If I did not keep it loaded, at home, it was of no more value than a paperweight (and of course he was right).  I was not comfortable with the pistol, though my shotgun did seem familiar.

My wife and I acquired pistols and went through books on safety, handling, responsibility and hours of time at the shooting range with Neil.  We made sure we knew how to use the mysterious and very dangerous weapons, we had acquired, in a safe and confident manner.  The “safe and confident” part is what made me understand why “blue lives” not only matter but should be held in reverence.   Owning a gun is a lot of responsibility so  Neil loaned me several books to read, written by the NRA.  Just as risk and benefits had been shared in my motorcycle safety course, the NRA’s books outlined the risks and benefits of gun ownership. They clearly and repeatedly stressed the need for hours of thought, planning and learning before ever handling a gun. Thought about what it was like to use one.  What dangers might come to others nearby, from gun usage, even in self defense.  How to plan for defensive usage to mitigate risk to others in the vicinity.  What were your responsibilities if you had a weapon and the opportunity arose for you to protect another or many others? What misery  would you feel if you had to use a weapon to save your life and yet in so doing killed your opponent?  What risks for unjust prosecution might come upon you, from the legal system, even if you did the right thing 100%.  How might your neighbors judge you, even if you were exonerated for clear self defense?

One day, I sat at home reading and re-reading the owners manual for my semi-automatic pistol.  I had his overwhelming need to understand it mechanisms.  I had to be able to picture in my mind the way the Beretta’s parts  worked.  I wanted to understand it the way I understood my car.  Finally how it worked sunk in and to prove it to myself, I gingerly picked up my loaded pistol,  removed the magazine and with some growing confidence (and much care), ejected the 7th bullet from the chamber.  I now knew the gun was unloaded.  I then reloaded the magazine,  racked the gun to load the first shell into the chamber and added one more bullet to the magazine as Neil had taught me to do.  It was again ready to fire at a moments notice. I put it away safely but easily within my reach.  I am not paranoid and never expect to have to use it; however, I feel it is my responsibility as a citizen of the USA to exercise my right to bare fire arms.  I do so even though I do not feel entirely comfortable with having one in my home or in my hands.  My forefathers knew why they wrote this law and I respect them for creating this country and its laws.

So why am I in awe of my brother Neil and the O’Briens, O’Reillys, Kennedys and O’Sullivans, who wore blue uniforms and shiny copper covered buttons when I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn?  I now understand the huge responsibility of gun ownership.  I have little doubt that every COP on the street has been down this thought path many times. To know that the policemen and women of my country go to work every day knowing they may have to use their weapons, leaves me in awe!   I thought being a doctor and making the right life saving decisions on a daily basis under pressure was a big thing. Now however, I think that what I did for 44 years, to some extent,  pales in comparison to what peace officers do every day.  Just as I am in awe of the brave men and women in uniform who defend our country and risk their lives every day, I am in awe of the men and women in blue!  Now I know what happened to the “insane” kids who grabbed toys, punched other kids and threw sand at each other in the sand box.  They took a different path to responsibility, compassion and pride. They became blue lives because we all matter to them.  I am in Awe!

….. Janr Ssor




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