On most issues most people would call me a liberal in fact many would call me an extreme liberal. I’m 110% behind Socialized Medicine, free college education, salary caps for top Executives, stronger regulations on the Banking & Mortgage industry, Raising the Minimum Wage, No Child Left Behind, the list goes on and on and on of pro-society, pro-people causes that I’m willing to speak up for. I think that movements like Occupy, Greenpeace, Sierra Club deserve our support both financially and in physical presence. I also firmly believe that global warming, nuclear waste disposal and breaking labor unions among many others truly are problems on the horizon that we need to start to address today.
There is one issue and ONLY one issue that you’ll find me on the “Conservative” side on and that is Gun Control.
I’ll start by giving you a little background on me. I come from a family of gun owners. My Grandfather, Great Uncles, Father and Uncles all owned guns. My first experience in handling and operating firearms started when I was eight years old. One of my great uncles, Uncle Joe owned a farm near Tomah Wisconsin. They started by showing how the different types of guns work (unloaded of course) while explaining to me the importance of never pointing a gun at anyone unless I intended to shoot them, that guns can kill and injure people and they compared them to my toy guns letting me feel the weight difference. they taught me as much as they could on how to spot if someone had a real gun as opposed to toy ones. During that late morning they inspected the guns they had, there were revolvers, automatics, rifles, and shotgun guns. I remember sitting there in awe watching them as they checked each one making sure that they were ready to be fired. Prior to that time my dad always told me never to touch his guns. I never did until that day.
After lunch my Aunt Mary (Joe’s wife and my grandmothers sister) and my mom packed up my sisters and went to town shopping. My dad and Uncle Joe set up targets, cans in a row, cans stacked on top of each other forming little pyramids, and cans hanging by ropes off of tree limbs. The forest on part of the property served as a back stop for the rounds preventing them from traveling their full distance. After showing me how to properly load and unload a small 22 caliber semi-automatic pistol they went over again the rules regarding handling real guns. Their rules were simple and still hold true today. Treat every gun as if it were loaded and never ever point a gun at anything or anyone unless you intend to shoot. They repeated this throughout the day making me repeat it back them. My first time handling that little 22 was surprising I marveled at the weight of the little gun as my dad and uncle explained how to aim and fire it. My uncle had been in World War Two where he earned his marksman medal. They explain how to acquire a target and properly sight in on it. I took careful aim at my first can and squeezed the trigger.
The gun went POP! I felt the minor kickback and saw the empty cartridge eject from the tiny weapon. I had missed, at the time I was disappointed but elated, shocked by how quiet the little gun was. My only experience with real guns prior to this day had come from watching TV and going to the movies. Where all guns make big noises and explode things into little pieces. My uncles help me adjust my aim and try again. POP! went the report of the little gun, this time they were sure I hit the can but it didn’t move. It was about twenty-five to thirty feet away which at the time seemed like a great distance it wasn’t until later that I learned about the range and real killing power behind guns, but at this point just hitting the can was all I wanted to do. My uncle asked for the gun, he explained that he thought that the sights must be off.
He took a few shots, POP! POP! POP! Nothing moved, the cans were right were they had been placed. My dad tried next POP! POP! POP! Still nothing moved,. I stood there watching as they examined the weapon, scratching their heads. Finally, they walked over to the cans and much to their surprise the cans were full of holes! They took a minute looking at the little gun and wondering how it managed such a feat. Then it finally dawned on my dad, these were the new aluminum cans! They had been used to shooting real tin cans which were harder to go through and the impacting round would send them flying! These new aluminum cans just opened up to the bullet so easily they barely moved the softer metal meant no spectacular feats of acrobatics as cans would be flying every which direction. So they thought about it some more and finally decided the best thing to do was to fill them with water. It did the trick and soon cans were flying every which direction, this time with trails of water adding to the effect. So we spent the time shooting the cans with all different types of guns there were revolvers, semi-automatic, even a couple of bolt-action target pistols and a starter’s gun (fires blanks only). In the most common calibers. As we moved into late afternoon they decided to break out the rifles and shotguns. At first I had to watch while they showed me how to operate them, but finally they let try a 22 caliber rifle. It made a noise exactly like the revolver, I found out later it because they fire the same round. They wouldn’t let me try any of the bigger caliber rifle because the kick back would have been too great for me, instead they let me try a small shotgun a 20 gauge to be exact. The thing to remember is that with shotguns the bigger the gauge the smaller the round which the opposite of guns where the bigger the number the bigger the round or at least the power behind it. The 20 is a lot like a 22, the 16, 12, and 8 shotguns are larger.
Firing the 20 gauge was fun it was easy to hit the cans they suspended from a tree branch with ropes. My dad seeing how well I was handling it asked me if I would like to try his 16 gauge, my uncle was a little leery because there is a significant difference in the power between a 20 and a 16 gauge. But my dad perhaps being a bit over-confident and proud of how well I had been doing thought I could handle it and I was willing to try. They decided my best chance to hit some thing was to shoot it from a sitting position so they moved the picnic table into a position where I could sit on it and aim at the cans. Dad sat next to me giving instructions on how to handle the shotgun as I buried the butt of it into my shoulder and put the front sight on the cans and brought up the rear “sight” up in line with the front making small adjustments to my positioning when I felt everything was properly aligned I squeezed the trigger. There was a huge explosion and smoke everywhere as the gun discharged sending a load of bird shot hurling towards the cans.
It took a second as my surprise turned into searing pain in my shoulder, I must have made a sound to that effect because my dad grabbed the gun and said; “Are you OK?” I remember fighting back tears determined not to cry, I replied; “Did I hit them?” my dad chuckled and said; “Yes you got them, let me look at your shoulder.” with that he helped me remove my tee-shirt my right arm felt stiff, the searing pain having subsided to a dull but constant ache. There was a red mark that perfectly matched the butt of the large shotgun. That’s going to bruise good my uncle said as he stood next to my dad. Joanie is going to be mad as hell when they get back. My mom’s name was JoAnn but everyone called her Joanie. “Don’t saying to mother about this until I talk to her first.” my dad told me as he ushered me into the farm-house to get ice for my shoulder. I sat there with the ice on my shoulder while they put the guns away showing me how to break them down and store them properly. They’d clean them later that night, but the gals would be home soon and they’d be looking to get dinner ready.
When the gals finally got back the real fireworks started. My dad told my mom about the bruise. She came over looked at my shoulder the red mark replaced by a dark bruise that still matched the butt of the shotgun. Seeing it, my mother howled and took my dad off for a serious discussion, one of those discussions that as long as your within the range of the human voice there wasn’t place to go where it wasn’t heard. After the yelling subsided things calmed down and the rest of the vacation went fine. Of course the bruise was a story retold for years.
But the story of me and guns doesn’t stop there as a I got older the opportunities to continue practicing were many both at my uncles place in Wisconsin and a different uncle’s place in Michigan where I started hunting with my dad. It during those times that as I grew into a young man, I started as kids do drifting away from family my dad and I found something that allowed us to stay connected. That week or two a year when we went up to my Uncle Lloyd’s place in Michigan. Gave us time to be father and son again with all the other outside influences that draw young men away, leaving their family unit to make their own way in the world set aside. Don’t get me wrong, outside of guns my father and I spent a lot time together as I grew up. But guns were there, they also aid me in my current part-time profession for the last 11 years in law enforcement.
Because of this time with my dad and other relatives I have a healthy respect for all the things guns can do. My job has shown me about how bad it can be. What I don’t have is the irrational fear of firearms that most people who are against gun ownership or support gun limitations have. I also don’t buy into all the argument on either side of the issue. What I do see is that as a world society we have reverted to a more violent version of our former-selves. In areas traditionally more violent, if guns are taken away mass stabbings are become prevalent. People grabbing knives and attempting to produce the same effects that their gun wielding counterparts achieve.
I assure you that if guns are banned or seriously restricted here in the U.S. we will see knife wielding lunatics hitting the schools trying to inflict mass casualties like the gun wielding lunatics before them. So do we then move to ban knives?
I know I’m not the only one who has seen the small but steady stream of individuals from teens to adults getting arrested for manufacturing homemade bombs for either they’re personal use or for sale. Sometimes, these bombs don’t work but sometimes they do. Recently a man was arrest in Colorado trying to sell bombs for drugs He made really good ones too. It was also not too long ago that police arrest a young man who was turned in by school-mates. In his possession was extensive material about the Columbine attack as well as bomb making plans and materials. They’re doing this without concerning themselves with guns at all. If fact the Colorado guy told undercover FBI agents they better stock up cause if guns get banned bombs will be ones only defense. The list of people looking at bombs as an alternative to guns seems to on the rise. The real scary part about bomb makers. They use materials commonly found around the house. Without providing a list of these chemicals I will say they that they across the spectrum from household cleaners to topical medications. Should we ban all of those too?
The kids in the Columbine attack used both guns and bombs, they were out to commit mass casualties. If guns had not been available to them they would have taken the time to perfect their bombs and the numbers of people killed and injured could have been and probably would have been significantly higher. I know that it’s only a theory, but they did build and tried to use them in the attack. Thankfully their bombs didn’t work as well as they hoped.
I think that if we are to truly combat the rise of violence in our society we need quit focusing on band-aiding the symptoms and start addressing the real problems. These types of attacks started becoming more common back in the 1980s and the frequency of the attacks have increased over the years. Guns have been around a lot longer than that.
I also believe the founding fathers would support gun ownership and reasonable gun laws. Though they couldn’t have imagined the world in which we live, but the idea that a person still has the right to protect themselves is as important now as it was back then. Keep in mind almost all of them took arms and fought a war to create the country in which we live. Those that didn’t completely supported those that did.
These days the news is filled with stories about guns, the issues about whether certain types of guns or all guns should be banned, or even loosening the restrictions allowing for more open or conceal carry. This is a political issue and not a real solution. Politicians use it as a way to gain votes and support for their re-election and not a subject to be resolved, because if they did they’d be one step closer to having to face the real issues of violence and in those there are no simple solutions.
I do believe that proper education about firearms is important for anyone who desires to own one. Background checks are important too. However, as we’ve seen they don’t always work as a way to screen out those who seek to do harm. But gun ownership is what created this country and is part of the cost for the freedoms we enjoy. Benjamin Franklin summed it up nicely when he said; “Those that surrender rights for security, shall not have nor deserve either.” We are the stewards of this great country and must step up not away from the responsibilities that come with it.