Safety Off

I grew up in the Midwest in the late 70s and early 80s. I played in the mud and I climbed trees and I pretended I was the Hulk, Spiderman, and a soldier, sometimes even in the same day. I had a collection of toy guns that was impressive by the standards of the Husky jeans-wearing conglomerate. Pistols, rifles, machine guns; I had a collection that would’ve armed the local National Guard.

The woods behind my house was where many battles took place. We’d hide in the trees, build shelters out of tree limbs and cover them in pine needles, and wait for our enemy to walk by. That’s when we’d take them down with various plastic and metal toy firearms. Sometimes you were the U.S. marines, and sometimes you were the enemy. Back in the early 80s the enemy was usually the Russians, as we had entered the second Cold War with them. Though, we also grew up watching plenty of WWII epics starring John Wayne, so the Germans were also enemies in these fake backyard battles.

Once the battle was done, the enemy was defeated, and the Pines Addition Accord was signed, we usually convened in someone’s kitchen for an ice cold Capri-Sun and a Fruit Roll-Up. We’d lay down our arms and watch a healthy dose of The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and The Amazing Spiderman. We’d part friends and then reconvene the next day for the great treehouse battle or do some scouting missions around the neighborhood on our BMX bikes(military grade, natch.)

I grew up with guns. There were firearms in my house. My dad had a .22 rifle, a .22 pistol, and a small .25 caliber pistol he bought for my mom for protection(I’m not sure she ever carried it with her, but whatever.) There was never some sort of infatuation with guns. There was never any fetishizing of these blunt tools. Guns were no different in our house, than say a hammer or a saw. They were instruments for one thing, and that was to kill. None of my friends had parents that lauded their shotguns or revolvers. Those weapons were just that, weapons. Most had them in their house for the same reason my dad did, as protection(or, in my dad’s case to occasionally shoot a crow or two.) Some were hunters. Guns were used for sport. You hunted deer or rabbit or duck. I was never interested in that aspect of firearms, but I understood it(in fact, I lost interest in firearms around the time I grew out of those Husky jeans.) I respected those that cared for their weapons like they were antiques. The care that went into building a double-barreled Remington. Oiling the cherry wood stock and cleaning the barrel with oil. These were still seen as a weapon, but respected for what they could do if not used properly. These weren’t toys, like the ones I used in the pines warfare.

Unarming an entire nation doesn’t seem like a good option to me in regards to stopping mad men(women, children) from gunning down the innocent; whether they be in a classroom, an outdoor concert, a mall, or a church. But I think taking things like military-grade weapons off the market is a pretty good start. I’ve never heard a politician from either side of the aisle say “We need to ban all guns.” I’ve heard taking things like AR-15s, bump stocks, hollow point bullets, armor-piercing bullets, and other military-grade weapons out of the circulation of everyday weaponry. I think that’s a good idea. Sure, someone wanting to kill will find a way regardless, but I’m pretty certain far fewer students, concertgoers, shoppers, and parishioners would’ve died had their not been AR-15s, bump stocks, and hollow point bullets being used, legally, in these situations.

Gun Advocate : Yes, but even if you ban these weapons these people will still get them because they’re criminals.

Me: You’re right, but why make it easier for them? And why let gun makers profit off of mass shootings? By that logic, why not legalize all narcotics? Let’s de-criminalize all drugs. People are going to get them regardless so lets just legalize them, regulate them, and the government can make a fortune off taxing them. Seems like a win-win.

Gun Advocate : Yes, but drugs are dangerous and addictive. Drugs are killing people.

Me : Well, by your logic drugs aren’t killing people. People are killing themselves with drugs. You know, like that old argument I’ve heard after every other school shooting over the last nearly 20 years, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” 

Gun Advocate : Guns aren’t the problem. Violent video games are.

Me : Still going with that one, huh? 

Gun Advocate : It’s these kids that aren’t being disciplined. They need more discipline.

Me : ???? 

Gun Advocate : Thoughts and pra…..

Me : So let me know when we’ve legalized black tar heroin, cocaine, meth, and marijuana and then we can talk.

I’m not here to change anyone’s mind about guns, gun safety, gun regulations, or gun laws. I’m not here to expound on our second amendment right to bear arms. I believe every sane, competent, common sense-possessing American citizen that is of age and of sound mind should continue to be allowed to own firearms if they see fit. I don’t see a problem with someone owning a gun for protection, for sport, or for the pure enjoyment of shooting at a firing range(with proper training.) I’m here saying that as a parent and as a citizen of this country I think there’s a serious problem with what sort of weapons are legal to own in the country. With every school shooting that happens and we’re offered “thoughts and prayers” by government officials the more I feel completely abandoned by the government. I realize more and more that congress and the senate(and the White House for that matter) are not run by elected officials, but the lobbyists paying them to pass beneficial laws in their favor. The NRA is one of the biggest.

Don’t tell me we should arm teachers. It’s a teacher’s job to teach not to be a soldier of fortune. I know teachers that would lay their lives on the line for the kids in their classes(tragically that was proven once again this past week.) But turning the English Lit teacher into a pistol-packing Judge Dredd isn’t the answer. Pulling machine guns out of the hands of anyone that wants one is. Infrastructure investments in schools(metal detectors at every door, bulletproof glass, locked doors, dedicated officers at schools) would also help greatly.

If you feel that strongly about being in possession of things like AR-15s and armor-piercing bullets then there’s an organization just for you. It’s called the military. Visit your nearest army recruiting center immediately. Uncle Sam wants you! If you want to carry a pistol on your hip into Walmart and McDonalds, then there’s a job for you and it’s called being a police officer. We’re in dire need of some good ones, so I urge you to check into it.


36 thoughts on “Safety Off

  1. Up here in Canada we do things differently.
    We can not carry weapons. Semi-autos and autos are banned.
    To buy a weapon you need a “real” certificate that has merit. Usually for hunting. If you are target shooting, your weapon must be in a locked box in your trunk, and you must have your certificate with you.
    Shootings are rare and mass shootings are much more rare.

    Back in the early 2000’s I remember planning a trip to Florida and a few days before we left, that state passed a law that allowed drivers to shoot each other if they felt threatened.
    We almost cancelled our trip.

    In my humble opinion there’s a reason why society has progressed beyond the gun happy shoot ’em up wild west days. Some factions would like to see it go back to those days. Not me.

    I think I’ll listen to some Ted Nugent today. The music, not the idiocy.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. There are factions that would love to see it go back to the Wild West. Every person for them self. Most of those people wouldn’t actually have a chance, but they think they’re soldiers of fortune. They live in “what ifs”, not reality. I see people overreact driving in traffic without open carry laws. I can’t imagine these same people with guns in their glove boxes. Shot in the head for cutting someone off in traffic?

      You guys have the right idea.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. My parents were in Florida a few years ago.
        There were a couple cars at a stoplight and a bunch of cop cars.
        The guy in the store told my dad the 2 guys got in a fender bender. One guy got his handgun from his glovebox and held it to the head of the other.
        Luckily he did not fire though.
        Just as you said. Killing over a traffic issue is now a thing.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. We had backyard battles, I even made my own rifle out of scrap wood from the basement, it had an old light switch for a trigger. Walnuts found on the ground were grenades. I played with G.I. Joes. Kid stuff. These days, I don’t even think about guns, in my daily life. My son is such a pacifist he won’t even watch Star Wars because he doesn’t like watching people get shot. By fake laser guns. In a frickin’ space movie.

    My grandfather had a rifle, it was in a locked cabinet. The bullets were in a seperate place, also locked. They lived on a farm, and the only time I ever heard him use it (heard, not saw, as I was not allowed anywhere near) was once, when a rabid fox was headed for the barn.

    Bop already said about how we do things here in Canada. There’s more sense to it, I think. And look at the UK, Japan, Norway, Australia…

    I think you make a lot of good points in this post, the best being “I believe every sane, competent, common sense-possessing American citizen that is of age and of sound mind should continue to be allowed to own firearms if they see fit.” Key words there being ‘sound mind.’ Your constitution allows the right to bears arms, but I don’t think the founding fathers meant a collection of high caliber automatic weapons ‘just in case.’

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Second amendment was also written at a time when the country was still in fear of retaliation from the British. There was rationale and common sense behind it. I don’t think military grade weapons would fall under the second amendment. That’s why militias became the military. And the National Guard.

      Those crying foul about their right to own machine guns are coming from a real dark place, in my opinion. And they don’t even see it.


      1. Fully agreed from here, man. They feared the British AND the Constitution (I believe) was worded that way specifically in case they people began to mistrust their own government. And man, those machine guns are a long way from muzzle-loading muskets.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah I’ve still got all the comics (I think). Could be missing a few but not many. My memory of it is hazier these days! I never had cable TV til I was 15, either, so I didn’t get the cartoon show at all when I was a kid. I did have a shoebox full of the figures, though. And a Crown Royal bag to hold their weapons. 😉 Funny thing, they’re still in there! And I’ve got all my old vehicles, the Tomahawk helicopter, the old GI Joe base, the snow cat…


  3. If anyone in your country thinks it’s hard to get a gun, take them to flea market.
    They used to be about car parts, antiques, collectibles and knick knacks.
    Now they have rows upon rows of nothing but weapons being sold by sketchy people with what appears to be no regulation. If you have the cash, you can buy anything.
    I don’t get why the ATF doesn’t raid every one of those places.


  4. Man, I would have never have thought to ever own a gun. Heck, I am pretty afraid of fire, let alone handguns. I was raised around family who didn’t hunt…but having firearms around is pretty Canadian, in the sense we use them for hunting and for protection from bears (I am from Northern Ontario – bear country). My family never owned guns, but I knew many a family who did. As far as I know, our laws in Canada are stringent.
    I remember once about 15 years ago a SWAT team descended on the house across the street from us. A man had locked himself in his house with an arsenal of weapons. It was a Sunday afternoon, and I had no idea what transpired as I was coming home from work, and a squad car was blocking my driveway. I politely asked them if I could park my car, and would not be any trouble. The cop was nice and moved their rig, but then told me to go straight inside. It was a neighbour who called and told me what was up. By the time I returned home they arrested the man. But, I watched from my bedroom window in horror as cops went in and came out with what looked like AK 47s – definitely semi-autos. Scary shite!! The house was sold shortly after.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Sadly, that is becoming more and more apparent to me. I hope something can be done. It feels helpless right now, doesn’t it…
        Canada has had its own major mass shootings too. The Montreal Polytechnique massacre is one in the forefront in my mind that took place because Mark Lapine hated women. He had an arsenal of weapons. He killed himself too. I wish he would have just killed himself instead of going on a rampage, but I suppose I am naive to wish for that.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The law changed in Canada in 1992, in part because of many protests after the Montreal massacre.
        After that, the goverment banned large clips that hold more bullets, banned many types of weapons and included bans for convicted felons and anyone with mental illness.
        Unfortunately, it took an awful event to cause change, but at least the government did something right for a change.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Thanks for posting. I have these discussions so often. After every major shooting I have conversations with my friends on this, and the circular nature of those discussions is disheartening.
    Arming teachers is the worst idea to me. We already make them payfor their pencils, and won’t pay them for the hours they work at home! How can we make them soldiers as well? How canwe train teachers to view students as potential threats? The entire teacher-student relationship is at risk if teachers are armed.
    I was in 8th grade when Columbine happened. To realize that these students at Parkland have grown up with this happening all over the country all their lives is absolutely heartbreaking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, the same people barking about putting guns in the hands of the teachers(which I assume we’d pay for through taxes?) are the same ones whining about having to help pay for simple supplies like pencils, post-its, and books. Good with buying guns…not good with paying for supplies so teachers can do the job they are being paid for. Makes no sense.


  6. As a future teacher I’d say I agree with you. We are there to teach, not to be a soldier. However, if armoring up means protecting our students, I would gladly do it. You make some pretty good arguments but just because people like to carry guns on them, doesn’t mean they want to become a police officer or join the military. They are either there for protection or not. Back in the day everyone wore a gun on their hip. The question is why can’t this happen now?


    1. I appreciate your point of view, but teachers “armoring up” in a classroom isn’t the answer. Taking machine guns out of the hands of civilians and investing in security infrastructure in public schools is. De-stigmatizing mental health problems and helping those who need it is the answer. I’d rather have that would go to arm elementary school teachers go to installing bulletproof glass, metal detectors, reinforced doors, and on-site security.

      But hey, that’s just my opinion.


  7. It’s a baffling one, JH, and I probably sit with you here. Guns and those military assault weapons are different. Completely insane that they’re so easy to get hold of… and unfortunately it appears that’s unlikely to change.

    I always think about that scene in T2 where Sarah looks at the kids with the toy guns and she comes to the conclusion that there’s little hope. Different context, but I guess kids grow up with guns in their hands… a bigger conversation there, but one that the folks that make laws etc. need to have.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I appreciated this. It is just so screwed up and so obvious to me that if you give people access to military-style weapons there is a risk of something of this nature happening, if not, then (at the very worst) you minimise casualties.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Talking to hardcore gun owners about gun control(not banning, just gun control) is like talking to an alcoholic about their drinking problem. They just get defensive and start in with excuses for the drinking. I think a ban on assault rifles is a start.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I have 22 years of law enforcement experience to include 8 years as a SWAT entry team member. I am also an avid hunter. I get the NRA’s stance if you take one type of firearm away then what is keeping the government from taking the others. I just don’t believe the government has any intentions of taking ALL firearms away – just the ones that have no other purpose than to kill as many people as possible. There no need for assault rifles in the civilian world – NONE!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Chris. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, and thanks for putting in the service as a law enforcement officer. It’s great hearing from someone that has experience and knowledge in firearms to say they feel these weapons shouldn’t be commonplace in the civilian world.

      Thanks again.


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