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.