The current national focus on gun violence, firearms laws, and the best ways to address the above. Many people on the liberal side of the spectrum feel that the answer is to legislate, tax and eliminate firearms and ammunition, or to make it very difficult to own them. These items are being discussed at all levels of government, in the media, on the Twitter and Facebook, and all other areas of the internet. It is an often polarizing, always passionate, and, in most cases, very personal issue to all of those involved.
I can understand people fearing what they do not understand. It’s human nature. I can even understand someone such as James Brady or Gabby Giffords having a very personal reason to dislike firearms. When something horrible happens there is often a tendency to develop an aversion, dislike or hatred of the people involved, and often, the tools. People who are bitten by dogs learn to fear them, people who are shot tend to dislike guns. Understandable. The problem is that fear does not make for good laws and it often creates demons out of mindless objects. It can also lead to creating policy, or worse, law, that creates victims rather than protecting the victimized.
I am a 40 year old gimp. Not very politically correct, but accurate, and, thank you all the same, the labels apply to myself are mine and it’s not your job to police them. I became functionally disabled due to diabetes, fibromyalgia, and possibly physical damage done from long term use of medication. While I am not quite to point of needing a wheelchair, I cannot walk long distances, have days when I can barely walk at all, and certainly cannot run away from an attacker. I am, by all appearances, an easy mark. I also have the same right to “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” that you do.
There is an often-stated quote in the firearms community that is found earliest in a 1927 Hunting and Trapping magazine. “God made some men small, and some men large; but Colt made them all equal.” Cliche, yes? True? Yes. There is a growing segment of our community in this country that lives every day with physical disabilities, or even just advancing age, which makes us an easier target for thugs and bullies than the average man or woman. We’re older, or disabled, and we cannot just “run away.” Dialing 911 isn’t going to stop an assault on us, the only 911 call would likely be to call an ambulance for us or worse, the coroner’s van. This is one of the reasons I will soon be taking the required courses, along with my wife, to be able to legally carry a concealed firearm. It is my civil right to defend myself and those I care for, and the only way someone in my position can do so with definitive means is with a firearm. You may ask about non-lethal means… Tasers are bulky and unwieldily, pepper spray or mace is largely ineffective if the mope (thanks Chief Oliver!) has ever had exposure to it and knows what to expect, and if the attacker happens to be cranked up on meth, or bath salts, or cocaine, any of these can have the effect of only making the coming attack worse.
I have been a lifelong firearms enthusiast. I was taught proper use of, and respect for, firearms at the age of 4 or 5 by my maternal grandfather. The first representation was him showing me what a .22 short would do to an orange and then explaining to me that my skin was not nearly as tough as orange’s. The lesson stuck and I have respected the inherent danger of firearms from that point on. In my adult years they became a source of enjoyment. I have punched hundreds of thousands of holes in paper targets, tin cans, knocked over target silhouettes and practiced the art of shooting from the range of 21 feet to that of 1000 yards. It was always fun. In the back of my head I always knew it was a skill that could feed me if I absolutely needed it to, and when I hunted, it did so. But it was more a luxury than a necessity. Now that I am older, disabled and not the strong young man I once was, the right to be able to have a firearm, of my choosing, to defend my life and family is not a luxury, it is a necessity.
Instead of regulating, demonizing and legislating tools, my feeling is that we need to properly educate the populace on the effects of firearms, the dangers thereof, and make sure that it is fundamentally understood from a very young age. The television, movies, video games, all present a romanticized view of what these tools are, and can do. And it is sanitized. Reality is not pretty, in most cases, but it should be understood.
People have asked how I can be an enthusiast of handguns, military-style tactical weapons, and other items that are designed to kill. If firearms are designed to kill, mine are all defective. I have never shot another human being, and I pray I never have to. They are a tool which is designed to accurately place a fast moving projectile powered by a small chemical explosion into a precise location. For most of my life, that precise location has been the bullseye, the pop can, the knot on yonder tree. *I* am the weapon. The tool in my hand is just that, a tool. And when you are disabled and unable to fight, you then have to make the conscious choice of applying the tool to the purpose of defending yourself, and the inevitable reality that doing so is going to maim or kill the person trying to do you harm. But the ultimate choice, the true weapon, is ME. And asking me to give up my right to own any or all tools by which I can defend myself, my family, or maybe even you or yours makes about as much sense as telling a carpenter that he can no longer use a hammer because people have been bludgeoned to death with them.
The idea of owning these tools is now essential, in many ways, to my continued survival on the planet. The reality is that we live in a world where the criminals will NEVER follow the laws. If so, the 20,000 firearms laws already in existence would have eliminated gun violence. The complete disarming of Britain’s populace would have, too. I ask, politely, that you not allow your fears and horrors to step on the rights of those of us who abide the law, are responsible, and will never harm another human being save to defend and protect what’s left of our lives. Every human has a right to live, and a right to defend themselves. We should not allow the horrors of evil to disable those who are good.