On the Horizon: A Gun Owner’s Dilemma

I like guns, sort of like I liked fireworks as a boy. I could care less about hunting, but I love to shoot. So every time a mass murder occurs around the country, I get a knot in my stomach because I have begun to wonder if I am part of the problem.

No matter what you think of gun control, facts are facts. Dramatically more people die in the U.S. from gun violence per capita than anywhere else. When you look at the statistics our gun related homicide rate is closer to that of Somalia’s than that of the developed world. While the overall violent crime rate in the U.S. has dropped in the last decade, gun related homicides have risen by 20%.

I know all the arguments for our 2nd amendment rights, and that guns don’t kill, people do. Yet, I believe our forefathers never imagined a crazed madman mowing down innocents in a movie theater with a weapon that fires just as fast as he can pull the trigger. Early in my career, I was able to interview survivors of a mass shooting in Texas and what one of them said to me still haunts me. As the gunman was making his way through the restaurant, the survivor said he just wished he’d had the pistol that was under his car seat out in the parking lot… he knew he could take out the shooter. In my opinion, good arguments for concealed carry laws that have passed since.

The problem though is this: In Aurora the shooter was in full body armor shrouded by a smoke bomb. Even the best shot would have had a tough time dropping him.

I had a friend once ask me when he saw my gun collection if I was preparing for the “zombie apocalypse”, and yes I like my odds if an intruder ever tries to break in my house. But I truly would not mind registering every one of those guns, or even going through a psychological test much like you do when you apply for a concealed carry permit.

In this week’s On the Horizon blog, I want to share with you an opinion piece straight from the editors of my local paper. It is thoughtful, and I believe for all of us shooters… dead center.
Rob McClendon

From Stillwater NewsPress:
Gabrielle Giffords.
Columbine.
Virginia Tech.
Fort Hood.
We recognize the horrific shootings in our country by one or two words now.
Aurora.
The words seem so benign to represent such madness. Such destruction of human life.
When terrorism strikes, the magnitude of the ordeal has a way of bringing us together.
Murrah bombing.
Sept. 11.
But random shootings, at least in recent years, have done more to polarize our country.
If guns were outlawed, they wouldn’t have had guns to fire into crowds of innocent people.
If guns were in all hands, the innocent people could have fired back – or first.
Which is the answer? Consider it neither.

As determined as many people are to own and carry weapons legally, many are equally determined to not have any part of them. The argument that Americans should be able to carry guns to protect themselves does not hold more water than the argument that they should not have to.

Meanwhile, a student in Colorado concocts and carries out an elaborate plan that ends the lives of a dozen people and brings hell into the lives of dozens more. And the rhetoric loops again.

There has to be a solution. And America has to find it – an answer that protects the 2nd amendment right of its people to bear arms and yet preserves the right of us all to have the expectation of going to school, to the shopping center, to a political event, to the movies without the threat of being mowed down in our tracks by a sick mind with an assault rifle.

The answer is not at one end of the spectrum or the other. Our country will find it in the middle, but only when minds open to the idea of middle ground.

Did America’s founding fathers envision shooting rampages at shopping malls when they amended the Constitution to include bearing arms?

It’s a different America centuries later. It’s a different America from the country we knew even a decade ago.

The world we live in is not always a safe place. That is not to say we cannot take steps to make it safe again. It is not fair that the masses compromise in reaction to the acts of a few. But compromise we do. And fairness takes a back seat to precaution.

In many public schools across our country, children pass through metal detectors on their way to class. Let’s just say that again – out loud. Children pass through metal detectors to go to school so that maybe a gun can be pulled from a backpack by police or school officials instead of by a kid in third-hour algebra.

But folks can buy assault rifles and body armor down the street or on the Internet…with home delivery.
America doesn’t have to take away Americans’ guns to bring back a more comfortable degree of safety. But it’s not treason to advocate making them more difficult to obtain – through checks and waiting periods – and taking away ready access to the guns and ammunition that serve no other purpose than to rip through the body of another human being.

It’s a different world out there. And the solution will be different behavior.

Only a minuscule percent of people in our part of the world are terrorists. Yet we all take off our shoes at the airport. Only a handful of people have opened fire in a public place. But we all could stand to wait a little longer, be scrutinized a bit more, fill out a few more sheets of paper, pick an alternative over an assault rifle – if the process means that on a summer night in a quiet suburb one person’s elaborate scheme to massacre crowds of strangers will go unrealized.

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