I grew up with firearms. Rural (and rather poor) northern Michigan. I remember all the hunters in their orange outfits lined up in the bank making withdrawals, rifles slung over their shoulders. I remember my cousin (3 years older than I) bringing his black powder rifle to school, dressed like Davy Crockett, for show and tell. My father hunted for most of his life and usually brought home some venison for the table. I learned to respect firearms at his and my cousin’s direction. I carried a firearm for a living for a fair portion of my younger days, plus there were 6 years in the Guard where I shot expert.
This person has never fired a shot in anger. Firearms are not any more “killing machines” than are cars or steak knives or matches or the Starship Enterprise. The purpose of a thing is what you want to do with it. They are tools that are dangerous if treated lightly. Since I haven’t killed anything in the last 40 years, certainly my guns are not “killing machines” and their purpose, benign. I poke holes in paper, bust up clay pigeons, shred aluminum cans, and cause soda bottles filled with water to explode. (And I clean up after!) I have a notion to get involved in Cowboy Action Shooting.
Other uses include putting food on the table, self-defense, and organized competition. Target shooting has always been a great source of pleasure for me. It was the only sport I was able to excel at. The challenge of precision marksmanship & mastering your own body. (It is a very Zen sort of thing.) The complexity of ballistics. The beauty of the gun’s design, the flash and roar of the muzzle blast, force of the recoil, the smell of the powder. Then the satisfaction of a tight grouping or the learning experience of a poor score. The camaraderie and maybe a bit of competition. Great family activity. What’s NOT to like?
I suppose I could go hunting. Haven’t since I moved to CA. It’s an expensive pain out here. I bag my deer with a camera nowadays.
I did hunt when I lived in Michigan. Market value of the meat on a deer these days is about $300. That’s enough for one quarter pounder venison burger a day for a year. I wouldn’t mind hunting wild pig (if I could afford it). They are an invasive species out here and an adult wild pig is a formidable foe. Only mountain lions prey on adult hogs and there aren’t all that many around.
Self-defense is way down the list of reasons why I own guns. I don’t deny it is there. I’d rather plaster somebody ( or some predator) with bear spray. The need to use a firearm is very infrequent. There have been a couple times I wished I had a ranged weapon of some kind on me but I managed to avoid my assailant. (It is better to resist evil successfully than to run away from it. It is better to run away than to resist unsuccessfully.)
The presence of a firearm (the bigger and uglier, the better) is enough to cause any (human) attackers interested in self-preservation to flee, so most personal defense wouldn’t involve a shot being fired. (It is important that fleeing be an option if it is at all possible. Cornered bad guys may turn and fight.) My philosophy is that someone who tries to harm me, mine or any other innocent third party has given me permission to harm them first in order to stop the attempt. Symmetry is important.
I don’t carry unless I am hunting or engaged in recreational shooting. Anytime I shoot for pleasure I ensure the safety of the range. That is how I feel.
I could go on for pages about the Second Amendment but suffice it to say SCOTUS agrees with me in its first definitive ruling on the subject since the founding of the Republic. It is my RIGHT. One needs no justification to exercise a right. Any more than gays should have to justify having gay sex or newspapers should have to justify printing editorials or the religious should have to justify prayer. So do not insist in my “justifying” owning firearms. I won’t. I may describe what I enjoy about them but I don’t need to justify anything. It is my right, as sacred as any other you hold dear. I do not distinguish between nice & pretty hunting rifles and ugly semi-auto magazine fed rifles and the even more evil handgun. (People who can’t wrap their heads about this are directed to the title of my blog. This isn’t your place.)
OTOH, I am not averse to my version of reasonable regulation. Someone who does not know how to handle a firearm safely should not handle one. Nor should anyone with a conviction for violence. This is not rocket science.
Not to greybeard anyone but when I was a kid hunter education was a mandatory part of school in 5th, 7th, and 9th grades. (We also got time off for deer season.) Any time you take possession of a firearm, you should demonstrate you can handle it safely, will store it safely and you are aware of the area’s firearms laws. (CA has a weak written test. Needs to be improved. Every salesperson I’ve met will happily demonstrate safe behaviors for you and watch you emulate them.) For public carry, (concealed or open) I would require a higher level of training but nothing so onerous or expensive that Joe Sixpack couldn’t do it.
No hunter ed? Sure, you could still own that rifle and even shoot it at the target range but you couldn’t hunt. Can’t use it in the public domain. Same principle should apply to any kind of pistol carry. Teach the owner and the firearm carrier becomes safer.
Most gun control proposals are really intended to reduce legal ownership and won’t have the slightest effect on illegal ownership. (Crooks don’t care.) They are not directed at safety either. Accidental firearms fatalities are at historic lows in absolute numbers and it isn’t related to which set of state laws you live under. Even so, I think every child should be run thru an Eddie Eagle type of safety class. (Stop! Don’t touch it! Move away! Report it to an adult immediately.) First grade is about right. Not saying the curriculum can’t be improved but arguing that it is better not to have guns around is kind of like wanting there to be no cars on the street, no drugs in the school or puberty never to happen.
Yeah, I know some people hate the Eddie Eagle program. It’s kind of like sex education. Or drug and alcohol education. It is needed because of parents abandoning their responsibilities. If you were a parent, what would you say to your kids about guns? What? You haven’t had that talk with them? Have you told them not to run across the street without first making sure it is safe? Why not tell your children to never touch a gun, leave the area if you find one, and to tell an adult about it? Ah, political reasons! You want to pretend the world isn’t awash in guns and they can’t be stumbled upon in the oddest locations? Maybe you also want to pretend your kids will never have sex.
They will never smoke, they will never drink, they will never try a drug and they’ll never encounter a gun. All the same bullshit. You risk your child’s life so as not to interfere with a pleasant fantasy.
My kids had the best of all possible gun safety instruction. They both shot rifles and handguns at an early age and were around me when I practiced, at an even younger age. They were fully aware of the power and destructive potential of a gun. (Just as many other things in life are potentially dangerous.) Knowing this firsthand breeds respect and caution. Kids who only grew up with toys (or maybe not even that) don’t learn this. They think all guns are toys.
Fast forward a few decades… I’m living just outside Los Angeles. My nuclear family owns well over a dozen firearms, half of them inherited. Son scored a shotgun merit badge at the youngest age (10!) of anyone ever in his scout troop. (I got certified as a firearms instructor just to make it easier for his troop to practice.) Sent Daughter off to a combat pistol course and she really showed up the guys. She can be a bit intimidating with archery, fencing, and shooting – but her ability to drive a stick shift is what impresses guys the most.
EVERYBODY deserves respect. All peaceable, honorable humans deserve that regardless of… of… ANYTHING. (Gun owners as much as gun haters.) Denying respect deepens divides, one thing we don’t need any more of. The next step after denying respect is denying humanity. I leave that to the Nazis and Stalinists, slavers and robber-murderer-rapists, and other assorted evil-doers. I will not go down that road. I don’t care if you are black, white, brown, yellow or Martian; Liberal or conservative or libertarian; Voted for Trump or Clinton or third party or not at all. I respect you. And if something harmless, voluntary and challenging gives someone joy, you should respect that as well. I am just as appalled by someone shooting up a crowd of people as you are. I am also equally appalled at someone driving a truck into a crowd or bombing an event or torching a busy nightclub. Some people think there is a difference between them. There isn’t.
I even respect your right not to have a firearm. (At one time that was illegal for most adult males.)
Diversity doesn’t mean just diversity for what we agree with. I don’t agree with pacifists but I certainly respect them. I’m not gay or transgender but I certainly respect them as well. Not even lightly religious myself but I treat any religious belief with deep respect. I eat meat like a bloodthirsty carnivore but when my vegetarian sister-in-law shows up, we honor her request for vegetarian fare. I disagreed with Sanders’ positions on a great many issues but I still respected his candidacy, far more so than Clinton. (Don’t even say the name, “Trump”. He is a doofus. That doesn’t mean his voters can be disparaged or belittled.)
Diversity is allowing people to engage in activities you think are distasteful as long as they do not impact other people’s rights. And no, you don’t have a “right” to a gun free society. (Or a right to a free gun.) Or a right to eliminate anything else you find personally scary, yucky, or immoral or has the possibility of misuse. You only have a right not to be interfered with as long as you aren’t interfering with another’s rights.
Do not deny respect for the *personal* choices of those you disagree with. Owning a gun is a personal choice. You may find that if you accept people for who they are (and not what you imagine them to be) they will accept you – and from this, dialog can emerge. Dialog is the cure for polarization and the only way progress can happen for any of us. Let us start out honestly and maybe we can find a middle ground that doesn’t give either of us acid reflux.