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Tennessee, United States
Retired teacher living in East Tennessee, adjusting to life in the land of round door knobs. Photographer for our local animal shelter and foster of many dogs and kitties. Don't ask me how many dogs I have, but my son got me one of those "I'm the crazy dog lady" sweatshirts.

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Thursday, March 02, 2017

Dear Senators...

Today, I sent emails to my Tennessee Senators: Lamar Alexander and Senator Bob Corker about meeting a gun-toting man while walking in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park this past Monday. Perhaps they will never read it - some intern will add a check mark to a column, opposed the "concealed carry reciprocity" bill, rather than for it, but it is always worth the effort, I think, to speak up and attempt to be heard, to at the very least, let our representatives know we are watching and taking notes on how they vote to preserve or change the world we live in.

What will you do to be heard this week?

Dear Senators Alexander and Corker,

My husband, son and I went walking in the Elkmont area of the Smoky Mountains National Park on Monday, February 27. Perhaps you have been there? We were checking out the old vacation homes and cabins before they disappear forever. We were having a very pleasant day, had met and talked to various other visitors and exchanged information about what to check out. We walked down the trail by Millionaire's Row about a mile and were starting back when we saw three people walking toward us, a couple in their 50s or 60s and a stocky, muscular man, perhaps in his 40s, wearing a pistol in a gun belt across his chest. While everyone else we saw met us with a smile, this man glowered at the world and kept his hand near his weapon. 

Explain to me please what reason there was for this man to be walking around carrying this weapon? Who or what did he need protection from? I did not need his protection. The bears did not need it, the daffodils, either. While those of us walking around sans weapons met the world with wonder and a smile, this man walked under a dark cloud and seemed to be keeping an eye out for danger, rather than beauty. 

I am 66 years old and have spent my life feeling pretty safe. But, now I find myself seeing people carrying guns in fast food places, in the mall, and now in the forest. Whenever I see them, I walk as far away as I can get from them. I don't feel as safe as I used to. I don't understand why their right to bear arms means their right to carry them in an intimidating manner where others congregate. I am concerned about the trend to loosen gun laws, and particularly about a new bill I've recently learned about, “concealed carry reciprocity,” that would overrule state laws and force them to allow people to be able to carry weapons in public. 

Seriously, Senator, I am way more concerned about gun violence in our schools and neighborhoods, and parks than I am about foreign terrorists or undocumented immigrants. We seem to be making it easier for home-grown terrorists to arm themselves. I do not understand the hold the NRA has over so many politicians, but I am asking you to stand up and make your vote NO be counted. It will be remembered by mothers and nature-lovers like me.