The horrible tragedy in Newton, CT, has brought out many strong and opposing views on gun control and the 2nd Amendment. If I did not have experience with or knowledge of guns and gun safety before this tragedy, I probably would be freaking out and calling for a gun ban, too. No one, but NO ONE, wants to see anymore of these senseless tragedies occur, but banning some or all guns is not a solution.
I was a firearms virgin prior to a few years ago. I grew up in a beach community in California and had more exposure to surf & sand than guns. I had no inclination to shoot a gun until my in-laws took me to a Women on Target event a few years ago. Even though I was nervous as hell, I loved the thrill of shooting and the challenge of hitting (somewhere near) the bullseye. I was hooked right off the bat. One thing that really impressed me was the emphasis on safety at this event. Prior to this, I had a misguided picture in my mind that people who went shooting did so out in the boonies while drinking beer and randomly shooting at bottles. That is not the reality that I have encountered. Every reputable gun shop and shooting range emphasizes gun safety constantly, and any shooter worth his/her weight in salt follows the rules of gun safety religiously.
Once I got over my nervousness of “THIS IS A GUN!” I was able to focus on the joys and challenges of pistol shooting. Understanding the basic mechanics of how a gun operates and how to handle it safely is HUGE! Just like learning to drive a car, there are many things to consider. I wouldn’t put my daughter into a car with no instruction and then say, “Drive to the store!” She needs to know everything from how to start it, to taking off the parking brake, to the proper distance to keep between your car and the one in front of you. (Oh, and don’t forget that turn signals are there for a reason, people. Use them!) My point is that it’s important to understand the mechanics of how a gun operates, and also how to safely own and operate a gun. This demystifies the “mechanical device” that is known as a firearm and gives you a healthy respect for it.
I have also been pleasantly surprised at the variety of people I have met who are firearm enthusiasts. They come from all walks of life and have a wide variety of backgrounds. Some are hunters, some are competitive shooters, others have military or police backgrounds, and many, like me, are just average people who have discovered a passion for shooting. In the course of my work at a shooting range, I also meet people who have been threatened and are concerned about being able to protect themselves. This is the part where I can honestly say, “I love my job!” If I can give someone the ability to defend themselves against someone else who plans to do them harm, then I am doing something worthwhile. It is every person’s right to be able to defend themselves against an attacker. A firearm is the “great equalizer” for those who are small in stature, elderly, or disabled. Taking away this right leaves our most vulnerable people defenseless.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, if I had never learned how to handle firearms I might be one of those people demanding that guns be banned. That decision would be based on ignorance. Those people should take the time to learn about firearms and gun safety before claiming to know what will prevent another tragedy like the one in Connecticut. How can you make an informed decision on something you know nothing about? They just shut their eyes, close their minds, and think that banning firearms will fix the problem. The problem lies with the people who have ill intentions, not the guns.