The saddest story in Iowa this morning involves the shooting death yesterday of Keokuk County Sheriff's Deputy Eric Stein, 38, of What Cheer, over northeast of here. The poor-quality photo above, of Stein, was taken from The Des Moines Register.
Stein, a deputy since 2000, was approaching the rural home near Sigourney of Jeffrey A. Krier, 53, with his boss and another deputy when Krier opened fire, killing him. The type of weapon used hasn't been specified. Krier was shot and killed later by a state patrolman.
Stein, according to reports in various media outlets, was a single parent and devoted caretaker of a handicapped sister.
Krier has in the past been charged and/or convicted of stalking, carrying illegal weapons and assault on a police officer. He was acquitted of several charges in 1997 by reason of insanity, according to The Register.
Obviously Krier should not have had a weapon, and whatever he did have probably was obtained and owned illegally because he was a felon with a record of insanity. But it is very difficult in our gun-crazy society to keep weapons out of the hands of anyone, including those who are obvious threats.
And a coalition of Republicans and Democrats pushed through the Legislature earlier this session a law making it much easier to obtain a permit to carry a concealed handgun, legislation generally opposed by law enforcement
I had been thinking a little about guns since Sunday when our vicar, among the kindest and most devoted of clergy, mentioned that she was thinking of buying a handgun --- just to have one (to plunk at tin cans with, she said). That seemed mildly nuts, but she'd been visiting a grandson last week who I believe is a gun nut, so I attributed the impulse to that mild form of insanity grandchildren always seem to foster among their grandparents (rarely involving deadly weapons, however).
Doing a little research yesterday on Lucas County's second courthouse (1858-1891), I got to thinking about Hiram Wilson, the young man lynched by Lucas Countyans during July of 1870 by being tossed with a rope around his neck from a second floor window of that old building. He had shot and killed Sheriff Gaylord Lyman a day eariler. You can read about that here if you like.
And not long ago, I rearranged and updated the entry regarding Sheriff William B. Ramsey, shot and killed by the deranged John McGinnis during 1889. That entry is here.
Obsession with guns is a mystery to me --- I don't understand why people want to shoot things unless they plan to eat them, a logical extension of the carnivorous way (when I become vegetarian I'll feel entitled to be self-righteous about that); I especially don't undrstand why people want to collect and play with guns. Perhaps if I'd been raised differently .... As it is, my only experience with weapons was in the military.
There's a theory that among men at least, because of some similarities between a gun and a penis, issues of masculinity or perceived powerlessness are involved. But I guess I really don't care if folks get their jollies fondling a gun and have no particular interest in confiscation. Nor do I especially mind when an inept hunter shoots himself. It kind of goes with the territory. But I do wish they'd stop shooting innocent people.