I hunt. Much of the meat that my family eats during the year comes from local wild game and I derive great satisfaction from the experience of hunting and the ability to feed my family locally sourced, organic, environmentally friendly game that I procure, butcher, and prepare myself. In addition, my son and I enjoy shooting clay pigeons at our local shooting range. My friends and co-workers are mostly hunters as well and in my community, wild game is little more remarkable than food from the grocery or the local farmer's market. I have had extensive formal training in gun safety and rifle marksmanship. My guns are locked in a safe when not in use. I should be the archetype of an NRA supporter. But...
I am a dad. I am the husband of an elementary school teacher who works too hard and commits too fully to her students (it's a trait that good teachers share). And I am saddened to my core by the shootings in Connecticut. I cannot even imagine the pain that those poor families are feeling and I will pray for peace for them tonight.
I have never joined the NRA. I have been invited many times but I was initially turned off by their absolutist position on gun regulation and I was later repelled by their politics and by the way that they try to conflate the good that is accomplished for conservation by hunting with their interpretation of the 2nd amendment. I hope today is the beginning of the end for their influence in our country.
I have been skimming through the daily Kos commentary tonight and I can only affirm the anger and frustration and sadness expressed.
So yes...lets have the national conversation about a more rational gun policy. This country won't ban the private ownership of guns and I don't think it would be wise even if we did. Similarly, it may be impossible to prevent a disturbed individual from procuring a gun if they are sufficiently motivated, but for the sake of these victims there have to be ways to make tragedies like the one in Connecticut today less likely. Lets talk about making tactical weapons and high capacity magazines illegal for private ownership. Lets talk about raising the regulatory oversight on those who may purchase and own small weapons like handguns that can easily be concealed. Lets talk about proficiency requirements and regulations on the storage and registration of private firearms. There are European countries with much stricter gun laws that also maintain rich hunting traditions. Lets raise the penalties for crimes committed while using a gun and lets enforce the gun laws on the books. I'm sure there are better ideas out there and I don't claim to be a 2nd amendment scholar but surely we can do better. Lets get serious.
I have never felt that my sporting arms were threatened by those who were calling for tighter regulations on gun sales and ownership - particularly when directed at cheap handguns and guns whose value as sporting arms was marginal or specious. The fear of a slippery slope leading from common sense gun regulation to the loss of hunting firearms is a fear that the NRA uses to sell its political agenda. It is false. A gun is a tool like a hammer but unlike other tools, guns are designed and optimized to deliver projectiles for the purpose of killing efficiently. In the context of hunting, this efficiency is needed to ensure that an animal dies as quickly and humanely as possible. However, this is also the reason why the "guns don't kill people, people do..." line of reasoning rings hollow. One can kill another person with a hammer or with a car but that is not what hammers and cars are designed to do. Guns are a special case and we should start by acknowledging that.
As I left the house tonight, I kissed my son on the forehead. Its a little unusual for us. He's 13 now and I can still get away with it but it won't be long before I can't. We ate venison from his deer last night. I was sitting next to him a month ago on a bluebird crisp morning in the woods when he shot it and it was a high point for both of us during a time when I have this melancholy feeling that our relationship is changing. I also had the "there but for the grace of God go I..." thought in remembrance of the grieving families in Connecticut tonight. What can one say?
There is much anger and sadness on DK tonight. Its justified. But don't direct it at gun owners who could be allies in the fight against the NRA Here is a plea from a responsible gun owner (self-described). I want rational gun laws. If it inconveniences me, so be it. There are other responsible gun owners out there. Let's make a down payment on insuring that we prevent the next gun tragedy from happening.
6:42 AM PT: Wow. Woke this morning to find my off-the-cuff diary on the rec list. Thanks. And thanks for the kind words. This discussion is encouraging. Please remember the grieving families.
Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 6:52 PM PT: I've been overwhelmed by the response to my diary over the weekend. Thank you. This is my first on the rec list and only the second I've ever attempted.
There's a lot in the comments but I humbly ask that you save some attention for Sandy Cook's comment near the bottom:" An appeal from another gun owner"