Every weekend, while boxing or football blared from the television in our home, my father sat, a beer nearby, in his designated place on the couch. Since he was a man who often needed more than one thing to do, while sportscasters shouted, my dad calmly cleaned his guns. The smell of the cleaner was hypnotic and sweet and I sat at his feet, fascinated with his focused and generous attention to his weapons.
My family did not possess guns because of some intellectual belief about Second Amendment rights. We were not worried about outsiders trying to break into our home. We had nothing to steal. Rather, guns were a part of a proud hunting culture in which you shot game and ate it.
The right to bear arms may still make sense in places where people feel worried about their safety. Guns may also have a place when they involve feeding families. Since my own father had difficulties maintaining employment, his skill with firearms fed our family until my parents obtained enough money to provide other food sources.
However, when guns, even when obtained legally, are used to kill innocent people, there is something wrong. All of us likely agree with that. Assault rifles, even when semi-automatic, have no place in anyone’s possession. When used in hunting, they are useless, as animals are defenseless. People can’t fight back either, which makes assault rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition pointless. The only use for magazines and semi-automatic rifles is to kill people, and as many of them as possible. In considering the argument from this viewpoint, most guns are wasteful. Guns are to be used for protection or hunting and that is all.
When I saw that someone shot 70 people in a Colorado movie theater Friday morning, my first thought went to the shooting in Arizona in early 2011. When that incident took place and resulted in the wounding of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, among others, there was a promise among politicians to address the accessibility of guns. Yet, this never happened.
Whether or not someone accesses guns legally or illegally, there is no doubt that there is excessive use of these lethal weapons in our country. Why is it that almost anyone can buy guns, and why is the excessive purchase of ammunition not regulated? And more importantly, why are assault weapons not banned in every state?
I understand there may be fear of the NRA and their powerful lobbying and even more potent capital. As the daughter of a hunter, I get the pull of the power of guns and the need to feed the public with the fantasy of safety and security. Yet, we are hardly secure. According to the American Bar Association, “The rate of death from firearms in the United States is eight times higher than that in its economic counterparts in other parts of the world.”
Though the easy political answer to the horror that occurred on July 20 may be to focus on the procurement of illegal firearms, let’s not take the easy way out. We should question the right of all of us to bear arms, at least some of them. Though those to the left of myself will say we should ban the Second Amendment in general, this will not take us anywhere. We need a more balanced solution.
The hands of most politicians are tied and we must stand up for ourselves. For now, let’s say guns are okay but assault rifles should be banned; government oversight of the numbers of weapons and amount of ammunition is needed. Take it from the kid of a hunter. There are only so many guns and so much ammunition needed to kill a deer or to stop someone from breaking into your home. It should be one gun per household. As much as I want to take away guns, they are too embedded into the fabric and culture of this country. I personally don’t need a firearm, but respect the responsible people who do.
It would be relatively easy to limit certain guns and the amount of ammunition people can accumulate. Let’s start there and save some lives.
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