This week, I finally located a particular .22 caliber rim fire rifle that has been in demand since it’s recent introduction. It is not a weapon of war, rather a precision, bolt action rifle capable of tremendous accuracy. I bought it to target shoot and dispatch an occasional crockpot full of squirrels, soon to be combined with rice and mushrooms in a favorite recipe on a cold winter day. That being said, it is still a firearm thus a target for those who think guns are inherently bad. They are not, some people are however, and a gun in a bad person’s hands is not a good thing.
I was raised in a gun rich environment. Military brats are exposed to the sound of guns from their first day in this world. This, coupled with my enjoyment of hunting and the feel of a firearm where wood ( polymer ) and steel come together in the name of precision and beauty are important to me. I recently reduced my firearms collection down to a more utilitarian group, but still exceed the national average of 5 firearms per gun owner, actually by a significant number. I am not alone. It is estimated that 17 million firearms have been sold this year and that 40% of Americans either own a gun or live with someone who does. While hard to estimate, it is thought that some 390 million guns exist in America. A whopping 67% of folks who bought guns this year say they bought them for personal protection, even though the actual instances of their use in personal protection scenarios is minuscule by comparison. Today’s firearms, like today’s automobiles are not your grandfathers stuff. They are refined and have evolved into devices capable of unbelievable accuracy and efficiency. Many so called “weapons of war”, while looking sinister, are really platforms for all kinds of accessories ranging from night vision optics to powerful telescopic sights with range finding capabilities. Competitive shooting sports run the gamut from a weekend fund raising turkey shoot to elaborate multi-station timed fire courses involving athleticism, gun handling and split second decision making.
There are vast differences in hunters, shooters and those who argue for self protection. Some folks can bridge these differences and can be classified across the entire spectrum. A hunter must have the ability to look a living thing in the eye and deliver a killing shot to the animal or critter. On a visceral level, it is no different than filleting a crappie still flopping on the cutting board. Some people have the constitution to do this, some do not. Shooters are thrilled when their grouping is tight and skill rewarded with a scored performance on whatever targets they are shooting at. Self protection aficionados may or may not know much about their gun of choice but have a sense of urgency brought about by the homicide rates that are climbing in America, and the new administration. There is no argument that guns pose an increased risk. The accessibility to a gun, on short notice, results in a sobering statistic in cases of domestic homicide, suicide and of course, accidental shootings.
Let’s tie this matter up, albeit simplistically. The (purported) incoming administration is not gun friendly, however; they do grasp basic mathematics. There is one hell of a lot of gun owners in America, of which the vast majority are law abiding and pose little risk to society. I find it interesting that we turn the average person into a gun owner with little or no education as to the responsibilities that accompany this privilege. I see pop-up adds for schools and classes that purport to provide training on the nuances of gun ownership both legally and ethically, entirely voluntarily and with no accreditation whatsoever. I watched a diminutive lady buy a big bore pistol this week while I waited for my background check to come back. I asked her if she was an experienced shooter and she told me no, but was going to find someone or someplace to help her learn to shoot this pistol that would intimidate even experienced hand gunners. Some years ago, I was involved in bringing Highway Patrol wives in for basic training with the handguns their husbands carried. They left knowing how to load, unload and handle the firearm they were living with. I don’t think we do that today, but certainly should. The wives were deeply appreciative.
In my view, training and education is a palatable alternative to the cry for confiscation, type casting and outrageous taxing of a right held to be constitutional. Like an automobile, you should be able to demonstrate a level of competency before turning out into the streets with a device that has lethal implications in inexperienced hands. If you are a bad actor, and are caught with a firearm and can not produce a training certificate, you are summonsed and your gun confiscated. Before you discount this approach, think of the alternatives. At some point, gun hating administrations are coming after your privilege to own a firearm through the egregious means I mention above. How do you want it? A stiff tax, confiscation, regulations limiting a magazine to two or three rounds? I suggest that attacking this problem from the people standpoint rather than gun standpoint is a better alternative. Ammunition sales are up 139% since the Biden ticket came into being, and guns are flying off of racks like Halloween candy. You know why. If you have a better strategy, and someone may have, get it on the table. There are too damned many people in power positions who simply do not understand our gun culture….and they will threaten ownership when the opportunity exists. It is time we remove guns from the liberal, political strategy bag of people who do not get it.
Have a great weekend and thanks for reading!