Perhaps hunters can sway the gun control debate. Nuance and common sense are needed rather than the hysteria of gun advocates shrilly shouting “They’re going to take away all our guns.”
No power in the United States is going to seize all guns. What the average American, and especially an American whose emotions have been shattered by gun-incident slaughter, wants is logic and limitations.
I know people who do not support hunting as an American heritage, pastime, sport or method of putting food on the table. But those people don’t begrudge the 15 million-plus other Americans the opportunity to hunt.
What needs to be parsed, something rarely involving tense political issues, is the availability difference between hunting tools and such weapons as machine guns and assault rifles. Hunters and sports shooters who engage in skeet shooting, target shooting and trap shooting, need to side with the rational people. The rational people need to side with the hunters and shooting sports competitors and support their freedoms.
Gun control can involve shades of gray. Everyone wants to take guns out of the hands of the crazy and the irresponsible.
Recently, I attended the annual national Outdoor Writers Association of American conference in Casper, Wyoming, and sat in on a guns panel discussion.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the session was presentations by a representative of a Black gun owners group and a Hispanic gun owners group. Another party noted these ethnic groups were the fastest growing segment of gun owners in the United States. The reason for the groups’ creation and existence, sadly enough, was fear of hatred. Their memberships sought guns for self-defense. Mass shootings generate fear.
Days after the panel, the mass murder occurred at the school in Uvalde, Texas. We learned the local police stood by and did nothing while parents begged them to intervene or at least give them their body armor and weapons and let them enter the building instead. To serve and protect seemed forgotten. Surely, trust between residents and the police department there is shattered forever.
Almost day by day, additional mass shootings took place in the immediate aftermath. More guns, more killing of the innocent by someone with anger, a grudge or mental illness, although I think all of us react swiftly by applying the word “crazy” to the shooter. In the week after May 24, the date of the Uvalde killings, there were 20 more mass shootings in which four or more people were killed or wounded across the United States.
Things did not abate when the calendar page turned. Seventeen more mass killings took place in the first six days of June. The shootings took place in small towns and big cities, in the South, the West, the Midwest. Salt Lake City, Mesa, Arizona, Saginaw, Michigan, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Tulsa, Oklahoma, were all places where hell came to visit with hot lead much like the Old West portrayed in movies.
It is no wonder residents of other countries believe Americans are insane in their lack of gun regulation. It is said there are 120 guns on the street per 100 residents of this country.
Now the gun control debate is of conflagration proportions. Changes should be made in the law. There are proposals to raise the age nationwide to 21 to legally purchase a gun. There are proposals to help identify menaces to society early by reporting mental instability. There are proposals to ban the sale of certain types of guns that by no stretch can be defined as being for hunting or sports shooting. All are good ideas.
Others are working to make firearms use safer. The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a public relations backer of the firearms industry, has advanced several programs under its Real Solutions umbrella. The NSSF in Newtown, Connecticut, recently noted progress made.
Aimed at law-abiding gun owners, under an initiative called Project ChildSafe, in operation since 1999, this includes the firearms industry’s distribution of more than 100 million free gun locks and law enforcement agencies’ distribution of 40 million safety kits explaining safe firearms storage to people in 50 states and five U.S. territories.
Still, the criminal and crazy, the violent and the stupid obtain guns and train them on the innocent, in Buffalo, New York, Houston, Phoenix, Chicago, Amarillo and Milwaukee, other murder sprees since mid-May.
More must be done to regulate guns. Imagine the unimaginable, if your child was collateral damage, killed just for going to school.