- Posted December 19, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Gun control debate: Background checks
Look Beyond the Image
As a teenager, I bonded with my grandfather, a WWII veteran of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, by learning to shoot on his bolt action Ranger .22 rimfire rifle. The rolling hills and forests of the Tobacco Valley area were where we roamed, plinking tin cans and paper targets. Since coming of age and in the decades since I have collected many different firearms, some of them historical pieces, some for sport, some of them even the so called "assault weapons" that are now a controversy. Some of them I even built myself in projects that stretched over months or years.
Guns like these are as much a part of the history of this country as the muskets carried by pioneers, the rifles toted by doughboys in the trenches, and the other arms that have served and protected throughout the years. To hold one in your hands, appreciate its history, and design, and to be able to take that piece of history to the range and work it is a feeling that many people in this debate do not understand or appreciate.
I am no instructor or trainer, but in my time I have been responsible for taking many friends and acquaintances for a day at the range. Many of them were people that had never fired a gun before and I considered it a duty to teach the safe and proper way to handle firearms. A fair share of them had ambivalent opinions on guns in general. But every single one of them have ended the day with something akin to "That was fun; when can we do it again." Many of them I have advised and assisted to go on and become firearm owners themselves.
You will probably see a lot of in your face, knee jerk, even rude responses to this situation. One may be tempted to dismiss it as rhetoric, but please try and look beyond. People like me and other enthusiasts are all Americans like you, freedom loving men, women, and young persons. We have done nothing wrong, yet in a time of tragedy like this, feel the burn of accusing fingers, feel something that we know and love demonized because of the actions of a few. Think about your own life, look at your own hobbies and interests and you won't have to look far to find something that would make you react the same way if it was threatened.
I do not know what the answer to this situation is. I can't tell you for sure what will put a stop to these violent tragedies. My heart goes out to all the victims and their families with the utmost sympathy. I can not imagine what this is like for them, and I sincerely hope that I and my family never have to experience that pain.
I don't really want to get into politics and laws and political lobbies. Somehow I feel compelled to, myself and many others put on the defensive, made to explain and justify a personal choice that used to feel as routine as driving a car.
One detail that strikes me though, is that the state of Connecticut has a state level assault weapon ban that is virtually identical to the Bill Clinton era ban. It did not seem to work to avert the tragedy. Connecticut is rated as one of the safest in the country. Laws restricting purchasing don't work against those that acquire guns illegally in the first place.
I don't know what will work, or what can change to make this stop. I suspect there are a lot of people though that do think they know and we are more than likely going to try at least a few of them. I hope it works, whatever it might be, but I also hope that the rights and interests of Americans like myself are not trampled in the process.
Guns aren't going anywhere, not in the near future, no matter what legislation is adopted. They will still be a factor to be considered for decades to come one way or another. Responsible education and open dialog are still going to be required, this is not a problem that will be swept into a closet easily.