I grew up with guns. Like many other rural kids, it is a part of the culture. It is considered normal to have a shotgun or a .30-30 in the truck in case you run into bears or coyotes in the back 40. During deer season, every muddy truck down at the old country store has a deer rifle or two on the gun rack inside. Many have been passed down across generations, the wooden stocks worn by decades of hunters, many of whom have passed on to the great tree stand in the sky.
Like many other kids, I received a used lever action Westernfield .22 rifle for my birthday. Mine was at the age of 7 by a scruffy, dip spitting old hillbilly from the hollers of West Virginia. That day, my father (who was uncomfortable and unfamiliar with guns) nearly shot himself in the foot with it.
"You didn't check to make sure there wasn't a round in the chamber?" they asked him as they snickered and my mom rolled her eyes. Unlike my father, my mother knew how to use a gun, quite well actually.
He didn't want much to do with guns before, and he certainly didn't after that, but he would stand by as "adult supervision" while I blasted paper targets and tin cans as I got older. He owned a pearl-handled .45 pistol that belonged to his father, but never once shot it as I can remember.
By the time I was 12, I was allowed to handle and use firearms with minimal supervision. I could wander the fields, nearby woods and the river with a various assortment of .22 rifles and pistols. Often, at night, I could venture out with a flashlight and a pistol. There was an multitude of rats that dashed from feed cans and opossums that tried to sneak into the chicken coop right at dusk before we could lock the hens up. I was incredibly accurate with a pistol and it served as a diversion during a childhood that didn't include TV, pop music or the other things that kids of my generation took for granted.
Some people would be appalled or disgusted by this story, but you have to realize that this was the way I, and many others were raised. In fact, it could be said that having been exposed to the use, and consequences of guns actually gives people a respect for weapons that those who haven't had the same experiences wouldn't necessarily grasp. We have a couple of generations who have only experienced the virtual "reality" of shooting guns in video games. Many of them have never shot a real gun, at an actual living creature, and seen what a 150 grain ballistic tip .30-06 round will do upon impact and penetration at 2800 feet per second.
You don't hear about kids in the country shooting each other as much as you do in the city. I believe responsible gun experiences contribute to that, in addition to other factors. To attribute this to country living alone is intellectual laziness and a need to oversimplify a complex issue in order to fit it on a bumper sticker.
I have only brandished a firearm towards another human being once in my life. It was a cold, rainy autumn morning as I exited my upstairs apartment to find a suspicious character trying to pop open the gate to my back yard. I lived on the edge of a bad neighborhood in Savannah, Georgia and I wasn't taking any chances as I saw his accomplice begin to possibly fumble for a weapon in their vehicle when I confronted the intruder. I got the drop on both of them with my conceal carry .380 that I pulled from the inner pocket of my flight jacket, and they knew it. Their tires squealed as they took off down the street, and I called the police to report the incident and give the tag number.
Would it have bother me to end the life of another human being? Absolutely, but when you have your back against a locked door and a criminal with a weapon between you and your vehicle, I'll choose my life over their life every day of the week.
So, as many of you have been wondering, what is my opinion on gun ownership and gun control?
To be honest with you, I'd like to live in a society that doesn't feel that owning weapons is the only way to fulfill a sense of personal safety. It would be nice if criminals could be kept from getting guns, but an outright prohibition wouldn't work. Look how well that worked with the war on alcohol or the war on drugs. If there is a demand for a product, no matter how many laws there are against it, there will always be a supplier. I suppose this is where my "Libertarian" philosophy sets in to some extent. Personally, I don't feel the need to own an AR-15 with a 30 round clip and therefore, I don't own one.
As for the 2nd Amendment....As currently interpreted, the "keep and bear arms" part theoretically means that an individual could own any type of "arms" up to, and including, a nuclear missile. At the time the 2nd Amendment was written, the weapons of war were inaccurate flintlock muskets with bayonets, tomahawks, cannons and swords. The rate of fire was, at most, maybe three rounds a minute if you were really, really good. You could probably actually kill more people with a sword or bayonet in close quarter combat than you could with a musket.
With that in mind, the Founding Fathers probably figured that even if someone owned a cannon, they couldn't do too much damage before the rest of the village took them out. A "well regulated militia" was written in because at that time, there wasn't a standing professional army and if you were male and could fire a weapon, you need to have one to protect the fort. Also note, they said a "well regulated militia" which infers that it is one that is overseen by government authorities. It doesn't mean let any conspiracy theorist off their Thorazine be able to purchase weapons without paperwork at a gun show.
Some people like to believe that the Constitution and Bill of Rights were perfect documents that were created by perfect men. This is simply not true. They were progressive, radical even, for their time but they were not perfect. If they were perfect men capable of creating a perfect document that would still be 100% relevant to current matters, after almost 2 1/2 centuries, they would have been able to foresee the future, and I don't think anyone has that ability, last time I checked. Also, if they had been perfect, they would have guaranteed equal rights for all people, regardless of race or gender. As I recall, it took two different courts with "activist judges" to fix that.
So what I am saying is that the 2nd Amendment applied perfectly at a time when an individual wasn't able to release hundreds of rounds in a minute. If that had been the case, I'm sure the Founding Fathers would have thought to write it a bit differently.
I believe there needs to be an honest, and sane discussion on what people should reasonably be allowed to own. We require training and licenses to own a vehicle. Why? Because an untrained or unstable person behind the wheel of a multi-ton vehicle can cause great damage to themselves or others. Now think of an 18-wheeler. They don't just give the keys for a rig to anyone off the street and let them head off down the highway. Imagine the potential carnage a tractor trailer load of propane or gasoline would cause if it crashed in an urban area? Same thing with a gun.
There is a difference between a .22 rifle used for shooting woodchucks and an AR-15 which was designed for no other purpose than killing human beings. If you absolutely have to own one, fine. However, you should be required to show a reasonable purpose for owning one, other than your irrational fear that the UN troops in black helicopters are coming to take you to re-education camps and force your kids to get library cards. I remember one of the parents of some kids I used to know who owned a "street sweeper" among others because of his paranoid fantasies that drove him to build a log cabin on top of a mountain in West Virginia because he was preparing for a "racial holy war".
I believe that in addition to demonstrating a legitimate need to own such weapons, a psychological test should be required for the license. If you are found in possession of an assault weapon that you don't have the permit for, you would forfeit the gun and face stiff penalties.
I believe in concealed weapon permits. They should be issued to people who are of sound mind and character. If you shoot someone who is committing a violent felony to protect yourself or someone else from imminent bodily harm, you should be immune from civil and criminal penalties. However, if you instigate a confrontation, then shoot someone because you are a gutless punk like George Zimmerman, you should go to prison for life. I also believe that persons found guilty of violent crimes involving a gun should do life with hard labor. Put them in Angola, no possibility of parole.
We need sensible gun laws that protects the rights of responsible people who have guns for hunting or protection and laws that severely punishes those who use them to commit crimes or intimidate others. There is a reasonable middle ground, and we need to find it fast. I am a gun owner, and the NRA does not speak for me. Not now, not ever.