When I was working up at Grand Teton National Park back in the late summer of 1987, one of my coworkers was an avid outdoorsman. Hunting, hiking, rock climbing, skiing, surfing - If it was doing something with nature, this guy was there.
One day, he came to my dorm room with his backcountry frame pack. "Hey, could you keep this here a couple of days?"
"There isn't any drugs in it, is there?" Drugs being the only reason I could figure out why he wouldn't keep it in his room.
"No. I'll give you the whole story when I pick it up."
Four days later, he stopped by to pick up his pack. I sat on my bed, and he pulled the nylon lining on the inside of the frame, revealing a nice, semi-auto 12-gauge shotgun. For those of you who don't know, it's illegal to have firearms in national parks.
"I had this pack especially made. I always have this in case I need it when I'm hiking, and I can actually get the gun out when the pack is fully loaded. I figured since you don't have any roommates and you're from Wyoming, that you wouldn't have a problem keeping it."
"Not really, no." Coworker always seemed to have a level head on his shoulders, so I knew he wasn't a nutcase... well, no more a nutcase than anyone else who goes backcountry hiking is.
He always carried that shotgun while hiking for several reasons. He always figured that serving five years in a federal penitentiary and owing a $100,000 fine was better than being dead from a bear attack. In addition, shotguns can be used to signal people in a survival situation, as well as the fact that shot shells are easy to take apart, and have a fair amount of powder to use as an emergency fire starter.
I never told anyone else I worked with about his shotgun, and I have never seen his name in any report about multiple shootings or poaching or anything. Still haven't in over 25 years.
The reason this comes to mind is the current 'debate' on Gun Control. People on both sides of the issue are polarizing so badly, and for no good reason.
To Gun Control Advocates: Making laws against anything doesn't make it go away. Otherwise, we wouldn't have people murdering people anyway. If you want to make effective legislation, you need to make a system that encourages present gun owners to properly secure their firearms against theft and misuse, as well as making sure that background checks are actually useful. Oh, and you're going to have to find governmental money to fund those checks, too.
To Gun Owners: We need to be honest about why we own guns, and what we do with them. Do you really need a high capacity magazine? What is the likelihood that you will ever be in a situation where changing a clip will cost you a life? Do you really need the type of ammunition that causes people to freak out? (Note to Non-Gun Folks - Subsonic hollow point rounds are some of the safest and effective rounds for home defense - 'Hollow Point' does NOT equal 'Bad'.) We need to find ways to solve the problem, not just scream about Second Amendment Rights...
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." That's the entire text of the Second Amendment. The problem with this is the fact that the Second Amendment has already been infringed several times, and no one has a problem with it. Felons have their rights infringed about owning firearms at all, and the text specifically says '...shall not be infringed." There's no qualifier in there about being crazy, or a felon, or a shotgun with a 10 inch barrel, or an automatic weapon, or a rocket launcher. So, if you truly support the Second Amendment fully, you are saying that felons have the right to have full automatic weapons, and you're supporting a 10-year old owing a full-auto TEC9. Any regulation can be argued as 'infringement.'
While I do own guns that I have inherited from my family, they aren't in my household right now. At the moment, I do not feel the need to own a firearm to be safe. However, if there ever comes a time when I do, no law will stop me from owning that firearm.
I'll be like my former coworker - doing whatever I need to feel safe. However, like my former coworker, no one will know until the need is demonstrated.
After Sandy Hook, there will be more laws and regulations. We just need to meet halfway and find rules and regulations so that both sides of the debate can be satisfied.
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