Time to Rethink Our Gun Culture
My life has included a relatively small number of guns. But I have now concluded they're not for me or many others.
My mother learned to shoot a 12-gauge shotgun as a teen. Her father always kept his gun in the trunk of his car and wanted his daughters to learn how to shoot. Why? We don't know. It must have been the thing back in the early 1900s.
My first gun was a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun, which I used to shoot at sparrows minding their own business on the porch railing. My shot nailed a poor bird, and I was both thrilled at being able to kill something and sorrowful at the same time as the innocent little guy I shot closed his eyes in front of me. I cried and only shot at tin cans afterward.
When I was 12, I got a single-shot 12-gauge shotgun, which I used to hunt rabbits on the land now occupied by the Air Force Academy.
In high school, I learned how to shoot a friend's .357 Magnum pistol and still remember the enormous kick it produced. My friend had no gun permit back in the '50s, as regulations were scant then.
In the Army at Fort Benning, Ga., I learned how to strip an M-1 rifle and fire it on the range. I earned an expert rating and graduated to a .30-caliber machine gun.
At Benning, we were given three hours of instruction on the machine gun. And when I got to Fort Carson, Colo., one of my first tasks was to teach a six-hour class on it.
At Carson, I was range safety officer. One day, as I was standing behind troops learning how to use their M-1s, a gust of wind brought a report directly into my left ear, creating permanent tinnitus.
My first job took me into some beautiful Montana and Idaho back country loaded with deer, elk and moose. I could never kill any of these and was contented just to gaze at them as they peacefully stared back at me.
Later, my career took me to London, where the "bobbies" (police) were totally unarmed. In the early '80s, you could walk anywhere, at any time, without a threat of assault on the streets of London. That's when I said to myself, "Why don't we get rid of handguns in the United States?" It seemed like a good idea then, as it does now.
Does an assault gun owner attack targets or game with these highly automatic weapons? Maybe some like to have them on hand "just in case." The only people who should have assault guns are our soldiers, who use them to protect us.
There seems to be at least one shooting a day in Fayetteville and Durham. Football players, deranged kids, military veterans, et al., should stop killing innocent people.
People do not need guns except for hunting. Every day we are occupied in TV stories about shootings and murders. It's getting tiresome.
People should remember that the Second Amendment evolved from an urgent need to bear arms against a British enemy who stymied our freedom. There is no such need for bearing arms at the present time.
I am a staunch Republican conservative who thinks we should wake up and alter the Second Amendment to exclude handguns and assault weapons.
Andy Thomas lives in Pinehurst. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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