- Posted December 23, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Gun control debate: Background checks
I purchased an AR-15 rifle in 1986. I used this rifle to train and compete in the Ohio Police Olympics, and at Camp Perry, OH. I subsequently won a gold medal in team competition at the Police Olympics. I did not buy this gun to hunt with, I had it outfitted primarily for target competition. However, it would make a competent hunting rifle because it is accurate at long distances. I still have the gun and it is locked in a safe since I have not been active in competition shooting for a while. If I ever needed to defend my home from criminal invaders, it would be of little use because it could not be immediately accessed. If one lived in a more rural area (I live in a densely populated City) it may be more useful as a self-defense firearm. I have other firearms that are more practical to defend myself or my home and as a retired police officer, I am trained in their use.
Unless I compete again, I really have no use for this AR-15. But, I do not believe that solely participating in target competition is the only valid reason to own one of these weapons, or any other weapon that is legal to possess. People collect firearms for a variety of reasons. I was interested in firearms before I got into Law Enforcement and that was 1979. Prior to that, I was raised in a home with no guns. But, maybe because I am mechanically inclined, I appreciated the design of a finely made firearm. During LE training I became a quick study and apparently had a firearms aptitude. Not all cops are "gun people". Some barely qualified, I think because they do not have that aptitude. This gradually led me to become interested in competition rifle shooting and the natural choice is the AR-15. But, non-LE people also compete in these contests and, again, the rifle of choice is the AR-15. Others, such as former military personnel, may acquire an AR-15 because it is the civilian version of what they once used.
So, I have an AR-15 locked in my safe that has not been touched in years. I would bet there are thousands and thousands of rifles locked in safes across the country. And, when a lunatic commits an unfathomable, senseless violent massacre, the knee-jerk reaction is to punish all of the law abiding citizens who DID NOT DO IT. How I wish that Nancy Lanza had locked up her guns like I do mine. We all wish that. Enacting the most strict gun ban never before seen may likely not prevent any future violence. We do not know how long Adam Lanza was planning this, or how he may have convinced his mother to relax on gun security. Rational people will never comprehend how he could have committed such a horrendous act.
I, fortunately, have no one in my family with a history of mental illness. But, I lock my guns up anyway. I controlled access when my children were young, and it is the same now with my grandchildren. I would be horrified if anyone with unauthorized access to my weapons acquired any and injured or killed anyone or themselves - intentionally or accidentally. I believe the vast majority of gun owners feel the same way, or take the same precautions. But, I educated my children about firearms and let them shoot one with supervision if they desired, but I did not force it upon them. Even though I remained vigilant about their access, I am more concerned about a criminal breaking into my home and stealing firearms. And, if they are having a real bad day not being able to get into my safe, maybe I will come home and interrupt them and introduce them to the business end of my Smith and Wesson.
The talking heads on the relentless coverage of this horrible tragedy reluctantly admit that an assault rifle ban will probably not prevent another senseless act of violence, but let's do it anyway. Some seem to think the Second Amendment protects the right to own a gun for hunting and proclaim, with their vast knowledge, that an AR-15 is not suitable for hunting. (you can hunt with one) SE2 is not about hunting. Hunting is a recreational hobby and does not have Constitutional protection. They all ask, why does anyone need an AR-15? I had a reason to own one as I explained. Prior to the 1994 ban, AR-15's were plentiful. And prior to the ban, there were few mass killings with an AR-15 or other assault rifles. What changed? The common thread is the shooters were very disturbed people, and others were aware of it. No one, even mental health professionals, can predict when one of these disturbed individuals are going to act, if ever. So, how are untrained people supposed to know? Did Nancy Lanza know? She lived with Adam, I am guessing she could not predict this horror. I don't want to be critical of the dead, but was she negligent in protecting the access to her legally owned firearms?
I got off topic here. About my AR-15, yes it is the type that was banned in 1994, however I bought it 8 years prior. The reason it was banned is that it has a bayonet lug and a flash suppressor and it could accept high capacity magazines. 20 round magazines were very useful for target competition, even though only ten rounds were needed for each stage. The reason to use a 20 rounder? In prone firing, it is permissible to rest the rifle on the magazine and it provides support due to it's greater length. And, they are easier to load. Since you are only putting ten rounds into a 20 round magazine you do not have to compress the spring as much as you would when you insert the full 20 round capacity. So, 20 rounders are popular in rifle competition. Rifles with these characteristics were banned in 1994. The post-ban modified rifle eliminated those characteristics and to the untrained eye the pre-ban and post-ban rifles are practically indistinguishable. Those cosmetic differences would have no effect upon the rifle's utility for competition shooting. And, while it takes training to develop competition skill and the ability to hit a distant target consistently with any of these rifles, they are quite easy to strike targets at close range with a degree of accuracy with little practice. And, it ties my guts in knots to think Adam Lanza chose those innocent, beautiful children as his targets and any adults who got in the way. The cardinal rule of gun safety is - never point a firearm at anything you do not intend to destroy. Adam Lanza intended to destroy. I don't even think that he could comprehend the horror of his slaughter, much less the affect it had on the loved ones and the entire nation.
Many say that the Founding Fathers could have never envisioned semiautomatic weapons of the type we have today when they penned the Second Amendment. True. They also could not envision radio, television, 24 hr cable news, Internet and any electronic communication when they penned the First amendment. Can or should we apply different logic to select Amendments?
I don't have answers as to how we stop these violent attacks. But, I don't want the government to take away my ability to have the tools to repel an attack upon my family, my home or me. That is the position of all law-abiding gun owners. I pray I never have to use a gun for that purpose. But I also pray that I have a gun if that occasion ever arises.