This recent wave of mass shootings tells me that our society has to change the way we raise our boys. My observation of events in recent years indicates that few if any of them were committed by females. It seems to me that there is something in the male psyche that drives their fascination with guns and weapons of all types. Not only is their upbringing at fault, but too many gals glorify and admire those traits that they equate with maleness. When they admire men for the muscles rather than their brains or hearts, they encourage all those mucho-macho traits that drive this desire to own and display guns of all kinds, the more dangerous the better. I suspect many have more muscle than brains between their ears.

I grew up in an extended family of hunters — mainly ducks and pheasants. My grandfather and uncle belonged to a gun club that shot clay pigeons too. They were good shots and won a lot of Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys that usually were alive. When I was little, I enjoyed plucking them and my favorite, drawing out all the innards, but I didn’t like the killing — usually with an ax on a chopping block. This was an annual ritual. Even my mother and grandmother were good shots. My dad had no interest in these activities. I was given a toy pop gun in the shape of a rifle that shot a cork with a loud bang but never left the end of the gun.

Even though it was a toy, I had to treat it like a real one such as never pointing it or my cowgirl pistols at another person.

I was fortunate that all the men in my family were the kindest, sweetest fellows you can imagine — nothing macho about them. They were sure enough of their manhood that they never felt the need to prove it. My grandmother had severe arthritis so my grandfather did most of the cooking of breakfast and dinner and hired a housekeeper to clean regularly. He was a dentist and regularly walked to work from his home facing Corbin Park in Spokane to his office in the old Paulson Building where he stood at his dentist’s chair, then later walked back home. When he went pheasant hunting, he usually was yards ahead of the pack as he and his friends walked the fields.

Mama always told how he disciplined she and her two brothers without ever raising his voice — he just had a certain tone of voice that told them he meant business. He had a similar quiet skill training his hunting dogs and was the only person who could make our terrier mutt behave.

Somehow our society has to stop prioritizing maleness and macho behavior. I’ve seen for myself that it is possible to be a complete male without flexing muscles and showing off chest hair.

Women in general, need to quit admiring these false concepts of manhood. In fact, it shouldn’t even be an issue. Why not just let the guys be people? Gender should never be an issue in determining a person’s worth.

I don’t know if it’s relevant, but my daughter’s age group was raised in the heyday of the TV westerns — Gunsmoke, Wyatt Earp, Paladin to name a few. My daughter ate them up, cheering on the good guys and cheering when the bad ones got their comeuppance. Did they influence the macho behavior we witness today?

I don’t know how we can deliver this message to today’s adult males, but we can do a lot to improve the way we raise the next generation.

Maybe as we explain to their fathers why we feel it is important, they will somehow get the message and act accordingly. My suggestions might not be enough to take guns out of the equation today, but maybe we can start building a safer future for our youth.

Lenna Harding lived her first 20 and past 43 years in Pullman. A longtime League of Women Voters member, she served on the Gladish Community and Cultural Center board. Reach her at

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