I have been around firearms almost my entire life. My father taught me to shoot and safely handle pistols and rifles when I was around 9 or 10 years old. I served four years in the Marine Corps and had to requalify with both rifle and pistol every six months. I am a collector of rifles and pistols, have a CCW license, a member of the NRA, a licensed NRA instructor and worked at a range and gun shop selling guns, instructing and being a RSO (Range Safety Officer) for eight years before retiring.
For decades, I have heard the term “reasonable gun laws.” The term is becoming more and more prevalent among politicians, groups and citizens due to the rise in the number and publicizing of mass shootings. (Odd: Someone successfully defending themselves or someone else is never publicized.)
The call for “reasonable gun laws” is more frequently centered around the possession and sale of “assault weapons,” i.e., the AR-15, AK-47 style of rifle and large-capacity (10+ round) magazines. There are other rifles of the same caliber, hold more than 10+ rounds and semi-automatic but don’t look like an “assault rifle.” Will those be next on the list?
News flash: It isn’t the gun that is responsible for the shootings. It’s the person holding the gun at the time of the shooting.
I have no problem with more thorough background checks. I encourage it. I have no problem with “red flag” laws if they are justified and professionally verified and not just someone’s opinion. I also believe a CCW license should be required to conceal, even carry, a firearm in public. I also have no problem raising the age to purchase a rifle or shotgun to 21 with the only exception being a purchaser currently serving in our military. I also support laws requiring all firearms and ammunition to be stored securely.
I think reasonable gun laws should start with more aggressive enforcement of our current firearm laws with harsher penalties for anyone breaking them, i.e., felons in possession of a firearm, lying on a DD214 (federal firearm purchase application), straw purchases (a person purchasing a firearm then giving it someone who cannot legally purchase it), etc. There should be no plea bargains, longer periods of incarceration and no getting out early for any reason.
Secondly, I think there needs to be laws requiring proof of formal training in safely handling, and use of a firearm prior to the purchase, i.e., military, a CCW license, classroom instruction with a licensed instructor to include range time for qualification and a certificate upon successful completion. Everyone must pass a driver training program before getting a driver’s license and being able to drive a car legally. Why not do the same to own a firearm?
I do have a problem with trying to ban specific rifles, pistols and magazines. Once that starts, will it end?
Personal responsibility comes with the possession of a firearm just like driving a car. How often do we blame the car for a fatal car accident? Are cars that will go 80, 90, 100 MPH and above, sound like and/or look like a race car involved in a high number of fatal accidents? If so, should these cars be labeled as “assault weapons” and banned from private ownership?
If a vehicle is used to drive into a crowd and kill a lot of people, should that vehicle be labeled an “assault weapon” and banned from private ownership? The responsibility is placed, and laws enforced solely on the person driving the vehicle, not the vehicle. The same should apply with firearms.
Edward Alkire lives in Landen.