My grandfather taught me to shoot guns when I was a boy. I liked guns — or, at least the .22 long-barrel with a peep sight and a rich walnut stock my grandfather let me use. He taught me gun safety. My grandmother’s warning, “It’s the empty gun that kills,” was the first zen koan I ever heard.
As a young man I earned NRA medals for marksmanship. I did a bit of hunting but decided to cut the critters a break. When my grandfather died, I inherited his guns and kept them as cherished family heirlooms — until they were stolen in a burglary several years ago.
Guns were a part of my family heritage. And — because I learned about them in a family that was adept with them — guns were no big deal.
This equanimity toward guns is the most important thing. Guns were not anything to go bananas over. They weren’t some innately dangerous accident waiting to happen. They weren’t part of an ideology. They weren’t liberal or conservative. They were not the linchpin of our civil liberties, the bulwark against creeping tyranny. They were just guns.
In later life when I was the cop reporter for this paper I saw that many people never get the simple, serious grounding in guns necessary to use them safely. Which explains the never-ending procession of ghastly accidents and heinous crimes committed with guns. And some people of some temperaments and intelligence levels should never be allowed within a county mile of a gun.
Probably many conservatives think because I support stricter gun regulation that I’m some liberal anti-gun guy. That’s just not true. I don’t even have a problem with the Second Amendment. After all, it begins, “A well-regulated militia …”
And I acknowledge that sometimes guns do exactly what the National Rifle Association says they do: offer protection from bad guys. Like in this story.
So I invite all people with level heads and no exaggerated feelings towards guns to debate. But I’ll tell you, I view guys who get all inflamed over guns and demonize people just because they disagree as stunted. For all the cammo, the outdoorsmanship, the machismo, and the arsenals of firepower, and the table-thumping rhetoric most — not all, but most – haven’t seen war, or a police firefight, or someone shot up by criminals, or an atrocity like the Cleveland School massacre. And if they did, they’d squeal and hit the bottle. The grown-ups in the room will figure this thing out without them.