I am a retired police officer. When I started back in 1969, we were living in a much different world. Police officers were given a revolver that carried six rounds, and probably had six to 12 rounds additionally on their belt. The rest of our tools were a night stick and a sap (a lead-filled, leather hand-held tool for close combat).

There was much physical contact while making arrests, but rarely was gunplay involved. As time went on, officers were killed by firearms. We were then issued bulletproof vests and started carrying shotguns in the cars. There were many who felt that the use of a night stick or a sap was brutal, so pepper spray and, later, tasers were employed.

I watched on TV the police as they addressed the school shooting in Connecticut. It looked like a full-scale military invasion. The police were equipped like an invading army, and for good reason, because today there are many crazies with military-style assault weapons.

The resulting carnage from the use of these weapons forces police to even the playing field. It made me think seriously of just where our country is headed.

The National Rifle Association wants more guns in our schools, and fights real background checks and the shutting down of gun shows. Our Congress members do nothing but give lip service to this problem. The millions of dollars put in their hands by gun advocates speak louder than the need to protect our children. I am not against hunters, target shooters or those who can qualify to carry for personal protection, but allowing military-style assault weapons to be sold to the public is insane.

This problem is much larger than just guns. We also must address the mental health issue in an attempt to keep weapons out of the hands of those who commit these horrible acts. This is not the America in which I grew up.

Back then, one patrolman could approach a large group of youths on the street corner and they would move on. Today that officer is lucky if he doesn’t get shot because many teenagers have taken to guns instead of fists to settle disputes. Back then, a patrol car could pull up next to a carload of youths and they would look away; today they stare the officer down.

There are cameras employed in many locations and they are so sophisticated that they can pick one individual out of a crowd of many thousands. Soon there will be drones flying over all of our major cities collecting information on everyone. Talk of Big Brother is no longer talk; we are experiencing it today. If we think our computers are safe, think again. They are an open door to all information we may foolishly think is private.

There are many who are responsible for the violence in our country. The media, which sensationalize every violent death; the entertainment industry, which fills our youths’ minds with unimaginable terror; and our government, which engages in endless unnecessary wars.

Where is all this headed? A police state certainly looks to be in our future. I prefer the protection of a police officer with his night stick and sap wearing a shirt and tie without the need of a bulletproof vest. A few people got some lumps in those days, but there was nowhere near the gunplay we have today. I have no answers, but the future does not look pretty.