I'll start from the beginning. I was raised around firearms my entire life. My father is retired military and taught be to shoot a small .22 pistol. He taught me responsible, safety-conscious firearms practice. He taught me how to properly use and care for a weapon. And he taught me never to point it at anything I wasn't fully prepared to kill or destroy. As I got older, I was permitted to fire his .45 pistol, which was somewhat of a rite of passage. He would never have allowed me to fire that weapon unless he know that I was a responsible, trustworthy shooter. Going to the range and putting little holes in paper may sound pointless, but for me, it was the one thing my father and I could bond over, and I have very fond memories of being with him at the range.
In high school I was the captain of my school's rifle team. We won the State Championship and I personally placed second in that match.
Later, I joined the Army as an infantryman. There, I trained to fire lots of very powerful and devastating weapons, including the M16A2 rifle, the M9 pistol, the M203 grenade launcher, the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, the M60 machine gun, the AT4 anti-tank weapon, and of course, your standard M-67 fragmentation grenade.
Now, I've never been an NRA card-carrying, "from my cold, dead hand!" type, but I own a firearm and generally always supported law-abiding people's right to own firearms within reason. Of course there are nutjobs, but it's also true that the vast majority of gun owners are responsible people who just enjoy putting holes in paper, putting dinner on the table, or want to keep their families safe.
But last Friday's tragedy has changed my opinion. No, I didn't just suddenly realize bad people do horrific things with guns, but I did feel that the majority shouldn't be punished for the sins of the few. But I have come to a realization: it's not about "punishment" anymore than levying taxes are. It's about what is good for society. I'm not going to get into the minutia of gun control policy or where I think it should go. There is a lot of nuance there that is worthy of a series of diaries in their own right. But I think a radical departure from the status quo is long overdue.
And so, yesterday I contacted my local police department and had them come and retrieve my shotgun and it's accompanying ammunition. No, I am not a danger to anyone, but I frankly no longer felt right about possessing a firearm. I could have sold it, but I didn't want there to be any possibility that it would end up in the wrong hands. This shotgun is destined for destruction. One less gun out there to maim, kill, and destroy. Only one out of hundreds of millions, but it's a start.
Thanks for reading.
PS - I will respond to comments, but my availability will be intermittent this evening.
Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 7:50 AM PT: Update: I just want to say thank you to everyone for the kind words and understanding; two things I think this world could use more of.