At one point in my life, I owned three rifles, a shotgun and a pistol. Not once did I concern myself about my second amendment right to bear arms. I simply used them for what they were, tools. The .22 rifle was for plinking soda cans and beer bottles set up on fence posts, shooting pine cones out of trees better than my friends could (in my view) and hunting jack rabbits. The other two rifles were for deer hunting, and the shotgun was for things that flew or slithered over rocks. The pistol, an old .38 Special that my dad owned and carried when he was acting as a sheriff’s deputy, seemed to be the least practical to me. The short barrel made it about as accurate as a Wham-O slingshot.
Aside from also using them to shoot holes in pieces of paper at the target range, that’s all guns were useful for. From the first time my father allowed me to use a firearm, he regularly reminded me of his three rules regarding guns: First, a gun is always loaded, even when it isn’t; so don’t treat it otherwise. Second, never aim a gun at another person unless you intend to shoot him. Third, never shoot another person unless you intend to kill him.
I enjoyed a good life growing up in rural Nevada and hunting was a significant part of the life I enjoyed. Years later, I was called upon to spend a year of my life using all sizes and calibers of guns to hunt down and kill human beings. As an infantry officer in Vietnam, I led other young men in that same grisly endeavor. Some years after returning from the southeast Asia War Games, as some of us veterans callously referred to that conflict, I realized that I found no pleasure in having guns; so I got rid of them. I still enjoy going to a rifle range with one of my sons and poking holes in targets with high speed projectiles. But it doesn’t take long for the entertainment value to wear off for me.
So, let’s be clear about guns. They are tools with limited usefulness. They can be used to shoot holes in paper targets and other inanimate objects. They can be used to shoot animals. And they can be used to shoot other people. They are no more useful for any other purpose than a jet ski is when it is stored in a garage. You can’t mow your lawn or go the grocery store on your Wave Runner.
Like every other American, I have listened to and followed the debate about the right to bear arms. None of us can escape the uproar over the subject, which has been filled with heat, but not much light. It is time to stop quoting the second amendment out of context. The actual text is, “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.”
It is also past the time to stop making up stories about gun control. The “government” does not want to take away your guns. Truth be told, gun and ammunition makers are going to be sad to see President Obama leave office. He “sold” more guns in America than anyone in history.
It’s also time to be honest about assault rifles. Nobody needs an assault weapon to hunt deer, elk or bears. If we are going to continue selling such weapons, enroll those gun owners in our nation’s militia (AKA the National Guard or Reserves). Attending a drill one weekend a month would probably be a good thing for regulating the militia. Oh, and spending two weeks’ vacation time to attend annual summer training would be good, too.
Finally, lock up assault rifles in armories or other high security locations and have the owners sign them out when they want to use them at the rifle range. The Army locked up my M-16 in Vietnam when I was in the rear area, and that was in a war zone.