Since I have yet to make a statement on this issue here, I’ve decided to take this opportunity to spill my thoughts and opinions about gun ownership for you guys to read and enjoy. I hope to accomplish a couple of things. First I want to give you some background on myself so you know where I’m coming from. I also want to debunk some myths and rumors about guns and gun ownership, that those of you who don’t dabble in the gun industry much may not be aware of. I also want to make my case supporting the right of citizens to keep and bear arms. You don’t have to agree with me, but I want to take this opportunity to make the best case I can using what I know and what I’ve experienced.
Up until about 3 months ago, I was an active duty soldier. I deployed to Iraq, did my thing, and came home. I received an honorable discharge because I had fulfilled my contractual obligation, and chose to come home and be a father to my son instead of running all over the globe and being gone from home for long periods of time. During my service, I became political. I didn’t necessarily attend protests, but as a soldier, an employee of our federal government, I began to become increasingly interested in our government, the decisions they make, and I began to read the history of our government, and of other governments as well. I grew up in the hills of eastern Kentucky, which is where I now live again now that I’ve finished my service. Growing up here, we always had several guns for various purposes. We would use them primarily to shoot vermin such as snakes, destructive or invasive species, and on a few occasions we used them to shoot violent dogs that showed up on the property. Owning and carrying a gun was nothing new to me, it was not a big deal. At 5 years old I was given my first BB gun. At the age of 10 I was allowed to carry my dad’s .22 rifle with me when I went into the woods by myself. At 16 I was given a 12 gauge shotgun, which I still own to this day and use for hunting certain types of game like squirrel, grouse and turkey. At no point during my childhood, and for much of my adult life, did owning and carrying a gun ever seem like a big deal to me, or like something that should be considered newsworthy. Where I’m from, everybody has a gun. My father paid very special attention to make sure I was trained to safely carry a weapon, how to shoot accurately, and how to disassemble our weapons and clean them.
In recent years however, something caught my attention, and made me pay attention to our 2nd amendment rights more than I did before. Maybe it was a gradual thing that occurred as I moved away from home and experienced life in different places, or maybe it was a news story or a political decision. Either way, I found myself looking around at the rest of the country, and at the people that now surrounded me and wondering, “What in the world is going on?!” Upon returning from Iraq I went to a gun store in Washington state and bought my first pistol. Since I did not have a license to carry a concealed pistol in Washington, I had to pay for the weapon, then come back a week later after a thorough background check had been done, and then I could pick up the weapon and leave. Since that day, unless I am specifically entering a place such as a federal building where doing so is illegal, I have never let my pistol out of reach.
I think, now that I’m talking about it, what may have sparked my interest and motivated me to start doing research on the topic, was a shooting that took place in Washington where a couple of cops were having coffee, and an ex-convict had been released, and for some reason transported to Washington state, which he was not a resident of, where he proceeded to find a gun and kill the first two cops he found in revenge for his jail-time. After that I started doing some digging, and researching, and educating myself on the subject. I was surprised to find out just how many people actually want to ban guns outright. To believe or say something like that where I come from would be considered borderline treasonous.
I am of two minds when it comes to the whole gun control “issue”. First of all, I believe whole heartedly in the right of good citizens to keep and bear arms, without question, and without stipulation. However, I also recognize that there are bad people in the world, who will do bad things, and guns make it a bit easier for them to kill more people.
First, I’ll discuss my views on gun control. I don’t believe that there should be any limits on the types or capabilities of small arms (Any gun that a human can hold in their hand and fire) that civilians should be allowed to own. There are already tons of laws in effect that limit the availability of certain types of firearms, and many of those who are advocates of gun control seem to be blissfully unaware of the facts surrounding gun crime or the legislation already in place. For example, in order to purchase any weapon that is fully automatic (fires more than one round with a single pull of the trigger), there are several things you have to do. You have to pay for a federal tax stamp, you have to submit a request for a particular type of license, a background check is run that is more thorough than if you purchased a regular firearm, and if you get denied, you cannot re-apply. If you get approved, you still have to actually find and pay for the firearm you want, you must buy a certain type of safe that meets requirements set forth by the ATF, and the ATF reserves the right to inspect your home, your safe, and the weapon at least once annually. I’ve been in many gun stores in my day and I’ve never seen one that had fully automatic ones hanging on the wall for sale, I guess you would have to special order one from a manufacturer and have it shipped to a licensed dealer. Of all gun crime in the United States, very few of them are actually committed with weapons like the AR-15, which seems to be what anti-gun legislators are trying to ban in the wake of this school shooting, even though footage from that day clearly shows police pulling the rifle out of the trunk of the shooter’s car hours after he had been apprehended, and initial reports cited the use of two handguns instead of a rifle. Most gun crimes are “committed with cheap hand guns” (quoted from Obama during one of his debates with Mitt Romney). I do however concede that there needs to be some measures in place to prevent guns from falling into the hands of those who should not have them, but in my opinion, most of those measures are already in place, and just need to be more rigorously enforced and monitored. There are bad people in this world, there always will be, and they will continue to do bad things. The shooter at the school in Newtown, CT told his psychiatrist that he was thinking of doing something like what he did, a report was filed with the police, and yet nothing at all was actually done to prevent it. We, or at least certain administrators in our government agencies, need to be allowed to compile data on mental health history and use it as a basis for denying access to guns or ammunition. I don’t mean soldiers with PTSD, most of us come home from deployment with some degree of PTSD and turn out to be huge patriots and good citizens. However, if somebody files an official report because an actual threat of violence was made, something should be done to prevent that individual from carrying out that plan, yet in this case, the perpetrator was able to purchase a ton of ammunition online and kill several children. My point is this, we need to re-think our mental health care “system” in this country. Everybody is a little bit crazy, and I don’t think that people who have sought help for issues should be instantly banned from buying weapons; but if they have a history of violence, whether against themselves or other people, or if they have made threats, or if a reasonable person believes they would be a threat to themselves or others, then that should be taken into consideration for preventing them from having access to firearms, regardless of the fact that they have not actually committed a gun crime yet. I also think we need to eliminate “Gun Free Zones”. I walked into a local bank to open an account, and on their door they had a little sticker indicating they did not allow weapons, concealed or otherwise on the premises. I went back, placed my concealed pistol under the seat of my truck, went in and took care of my business. While there I made a statement to the woman that their sticker made me laugh. When she asked why I said, “Because if I was here to rob the place, all that sticker tells me is that nobody in here is armed, I’m not going to throw up my hands in despair and go look for a different bank to rob.” Gun free zones do nothing but ensure the law abiding citizens within that area are incapable of defending themselves when somebody does decide to show up and target practice on our kids.
There is also a lot of inconsistencies across the country when it comes to gun laws. In Washington I bought a concealed pistol license. There was no training requirement and the process was not very complicated, I filled out a form, came in and paid a small fee, and in a couple of weeks a section of the form had been cut out, laminated and mailed to me as my concealed pistol license. In Kentucky you have to attend an 8 hour training course, where you must demonstrate competence with the weapon, including demonstrating your ability to dis-assemble, re-assemble, safely operate, and accurately fire the weapon on a range, and when you get your “Concealed Deadly Weapons License” as it is referred to in Kentucky, it’s not just a laminated part of the form you filled out to get it, it’s an official state issued photo ID. This is a prime example of the inconsistency of gun laws across this country. I own an AR-15 with several 30 round magazines. If I were to move to New York, California, or one of several other states for work, then I would have to make several changes to my rifle, including disposing of the 30 round magazines, before I would be allowed to keep it. In my opinion, these gun laws that limit the capabilities of a weapon, capabilities which have little if any effect on its ability to inflict damage and only attack guns that “look” a certain way, are unconstitutional.
When it comes to gun ownership, I am very passionate. Personally I think every American citizen should own at least one firearm, know how to operate it and take care of it, and have at least one magazine of ammunition for it. Whether or not they choose to carry it is on them, but we are quickly becoming a nation of sheep. I see gun ownership as not only an inalienable right, but a responsibility of every sane, law abiding citizen that wants a safe environment to live and work in. There are 3 key reasons I believe gun ownership is important:
– Defense against criminals
– Defense against one’s government
As the man of my house, it is my responsibility to ensure that my property and my family is protected from harm. If an armed man broke into my house at night, and I had no guns, and we called the police immediately, the police would show up just in time to identify our bodies. There will always be bad guys out there, and disarming the prey does nothing but make the job of the predator easier. You cannot save the antelope from the cheetah by cutting off the antelope’s horns.
I am a hunter, as are millions upon millions of people all over the world. Firearms made hunting more efficient than it ever has been in the past, and not just for the hunter. If I shoot a deer with a 30-06, the show is over. Death comes instantly, or in a matter of seconds at most. This makes my job easier, and reduces the amount of suffering on the part of the animal I hunt for food. I have seen licensed and certified slaughterhouses that employ gruesome methods of execution for the poor animals they farm that no hunter would dare use on any animal. With guns, we can choose the type of weapon and caliber that best suits the environment and animal we are hunting so that we can effectively kill the animal in a way that maximizes the amount of food we can retrieve, and minimizes the amount of suffering the animal has to go through.
Finally, I believe gun ownership is of paramount importance for defense against one’s government. If history has taught us one thing, it is this, per Benjamin Franklin, “Any society that will sacrifice a little freedom for a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” The 2nd amendment has absolutely nothing to do with hunting, it is there to ensure the people can defend themselves against their government. Any government official that tells you in order to be safe we have to give up some freedoms is both insane and unfit for the office they are holding. Ask the native Americans how trustworthy the United States government is, how good they are at keeping promises. At wounded knee, at least 150 Lakota men, women and children were murdered by US soldiers attempting to disarm the Lakota people. Think about that, they were more prepared to murder 150 people with machine guns than they were ready to allow them to keep their rifles, and that is one of many atrocities committed by just the government of this country, let alone around the world. Time after time throughout history, governments have grown too large, too powerful, and it’s regular guys like me and you who stood up and said, “Enough is enough” and fixed the problem. If you do not have the means with which to “actually” fight back against your government, then what motivation do they really have to actually listen to you? If they have all the guns, and you allowed yours to be confiscated, then what is keeping them honest? Your words? Those can be easily ignored. Our current administration has already made it a crime to protest the government without first requesting permission from the government. It is the right to keep and bear arms that protects all of our other rights and liberties, and without our right to bear arms in defense of ourselves, our families, our property, and our country, then we are not even citizens, we are just subjects to the will of those in political office.
It’s up to us, as the citizens of today, to stand up and defend these rights, so that our children may also enjoy the freedoms and liberties I know are possible in this great nation. It’s up to us to stop our government from slowly and gradually eating away at our rights and liberties. Today it’s 30 round magazines, tomorrow it’s public protests, if we don’t stop it now, then we won’t be able to stop it later. As gun owners, you need to take this issue to heart, educate yourself, become part of the conversation. Help us make meaningful changes that prevent gun violence but protect our rights and liberties as citizens. Teach and train your children on how to safely handle a firearm, if they’re old enough. It’s really up to us guys, we cannot, we must not fail.
Here’s a photo my wife took the other day of me and my son walking in the woods. He knows not to touch my guns, but by exposing him to them, and letting him see me carry them, I hope to remove the stigma that so many of today’s children have. Maybe when he’s 16 he won’t shoot himself on accident playing with my gun while I’m gone to work because a gun will not seem to be some mysterious, magical thing he’s only seen in cartoons or movies. I take fatherhood very seriously, and I take this issue very seriously. Thanks for reading.