It was a beautiful cool morning, the first chilly September Saturday of the year. My husband was out the door early today with a selection of fire arms. He was off shooting a gun last weekend too. The weekend prior to that neither of us were shooting, though we did stop in for lunch at a hunting preserve and to visit with friends in LeCenter Minnesota. When people hear me talk about guns they assume that my husband or I hunt. Though he hunted pheasant when he was younger, I can honestly say that in the nearly twenty-six years I’ve know him, he has never hunted anything, though many of our friends do.
Despite having been taught by my father at age nine how to shoot, I have never killed anything with a gun. As newlyweds in Wisconsin, my husband and I spent quite a bit of time out at the local practice range shooting targets. He learned to shoot as a kid growing up in rural Minnesota in an era where kids often had guns in their lockers because they hunted after school. He had a gun in the classroom during a speech in high school. There was no school lock-down or suspensions, a gun was just viewed as a tool, much the same as the knives in the Home Economics room or saws in the Shop classes. If used wrong, any of them could cause catastrophic damage, just like the wooden bats and jump ropes down in the gymnasium could be misused. So rather than hide them or fear an inanimate object, like other tools he and his peers were taught how to use them properly.
My husband gained more knowledge about guns during his training with the Army, his time spent as an Airborne Ranger and when his active duty was completed he served with the Army Reserves for many years where during monthly drill weekends and annual trainings he continued to work with firearms. Like some people admire Art, my husband has a keen appreciation of firearms; their history, craftsmanship and design. He likes to repair guns and is often sought out to clean and maintain the hunting rifles of friends.
Over the years I have been asked if I am scared to have guns in my home because they are so dangerous and I have kids. While you might see a gun out in our home when my husband is taking it apart and lubricating it while watching TV at night, typically our guns are all secured and you would be unaware of their presence. I have ladders, area rugs, bath tubs, staircases, candles and electricity in my home, each of which are statistically more likely to injure or kill myself or a loved one in my home than a gun. I am not naive, I have a healthy respect for the power of firearms and as someone with experience shooting guns am actually more aware of their ability to be destructive or lethal when mishandled or for that matter properly handled by someone whose intention is to protect themselves.
I’m not scared of firearms, I am however scared of some people. Ironically when there is a horrific situation where people are shot to death people want to eliminate guns but if there is a massive car wreck nobody suggests eliminating cars. People respond with their assertion that “cars are necessary and guns are not.” Really? When there is an intruder in your home and you call 911, do you expect an officer with a large vocabulary to arrive and use their words to deal with the menace? Most citizens want an armed officer, which we now have at schools, airports and on planes in increased numbers. I’m scared of some people and those are people who have typically had no firearm training, are either socially awkward, mentally unstable, drugged or all of the above and have the intention to misuse a firearm. In the last year locally we have seen examples of people with those same traits use cars to run people down and knives to assault people simply trying to get home. Yet it is guns that so many people want to eliminate, with false assumptions that the deranged will simply stay home and bake cookies instead of seeking some other means of destruction to fulfill their need.
We need to address early the damage that people are living with, give credence to their writings, offer support to their parents when they try to seek help for them. It has been a rare instance where a person has simply imploded without warning. We are a polite society and we have become so sensitized to not wanting to be the one to offend somebody by suggesting something is wrong with someones behavior, that we as a result, have actually permitted the percolation of evil. In some segments of society we have not listened well to the needs of people. Sometimes that need is some positive male role models to simply show they care. Someone simply to believe in them and who is convinced they are worth more than perhaps what their own parent has told them they are worth. Anger is a volatile powder key and whether it manifests itself in tightening hands around a throat or sending a projectile out the end of a gun, a person bent on hurting or killing someone is not someone that will be swayed into good behavior simply because a new law was passed. They were not obeying the ones already on the books.
So today my husband headed out early to pick up a gentleman from the United Kingdom who is in town on business and alone over the weekend. He had expressed interest earlier in the week in World Ward II history and was excited when my husband offered him the opportunity to go shooting and selected a couple of rifles from that era for him to shoot. Last weekend he was shooting at a benefit, a twenty-fifth annual event, began as a way to provide money to a mother who was made a widow at a young age. Her husband’s college friends wanted to honor his memory, while having fun and raising money so her two children (one with special needs requiring lifelong care) could have Christmas gifts and some home repairs could be made. Sadly the mother passed away too soon as well and her sister has taken on the adult with special needs. The tradition continues.
Two separate weekends, two different activities involving guns. None illegal, no killing, no sinister intent. Envision a hobby or passion that you have and imagine strangers mislabeling what it is you do and demanding that you can no longer practice your activity of choice. Say it were sailing, due to pirate activity there would be boating allowed by commercial boats only because it was just too hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys. Do you think it would solve the problem? Do you think the gesture would be fair? It’s time that people opposed to private gun ownership realize that law-abiding gun owners are just as horrified (if not more so) when a gun is misused and begin thinking of ways to address the why of people choosing to hurt people, because taking guns from people who are not misusing them is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. Prohibitions in this country have not worked well in the past, they make some people rich and take activity underground. Responsible use is really the objective and all the laws necessary are already on the books for that.