It’s time we had a serious talk about guns in this country.
Not that you’ll be getting one here. I mean, clearly, I am not the appropriate person — by any stretch of the imagination — to be discussing our Second Amendment rights.
Why? Because I suspect that I’m just a little too level-headed for the conversation. After all, I seem to be one of the few people who believes that both sides of this issue have compelling, valid arguments, and that the solution lies somewhere in between. Whereas, most folks weighing in on gun control tend to hold one of two extreme viewpoints:
• People who like guns are crazy conservative zealots who marinate in government conspiracy theories and place their silly Second Amendment right to own weapons of moderate-mass destruction above the safety of our children.
• People who don’t like guns are liberal pansies who spit upon America and the Constitution and place the illusion of public safety ahead of freedom.
Nobody’s willing to concede that maybe the issue is a bit more nuanced than the caricatures of a Wild West firearm free-for-all vs. a dystopian future wherein the government has managed to enslave us by prying all weapons of defense from our cold, dead hands.
First things first. You should know that I hate guns, with a passion generally reserved for reality TV shows and these depressing winter temperature inversions. I’m 53 years old, and can count on one hand my total lifetime shooting experiences.
And in all of that time, I’ve never understood America’s fascination with firearms. I wish guns didn’t even exist. If I could somehow wave a magic wand and make them all disappear, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I know that I could be perfectly happy in a world without firearms.
But that isn’t going to happen, any more than a world without nuclear weapons is in the cards.
So it’s time for Plan B. And Plan B involves good, honest, responsible, relatively mentally stable, law-abiding folks like me becoming proficient with firearms and being prepared.
Here’s the deal: I plan on taking firearms safety and concealed-carry permit classes. And then, when my fear of guns has been replaced with healthy doses of respect and proficiency, I’m going to buy a couple of firearms.
No, I don’t believe I’m going to have to shoot it out with my government, nor guard my two years’ supply of Little Debbie snack cakes from my armed-to-the-teeth neighbors. And I’m not banking on some sort of zombie apocalypse, either.
But I do think it’s time I accepted more responsibility for my own safety.
I also find it laughable that so many gun owners are unwilling to have even the most basic of conversations about gun control, for fear it sets us on some sort of “slippery slope” toward total disarmament. While your average, law-abiding citizen should be able to buy a gun, I think we can all agree that the process should be a little more difficult than, say, ordering the Gorditas at a Taco Bell takeout window.
You wanna own guns, or carry them in public? Fine. But it doesn’t seem too much to ask that you show a high degree of competency for such privileges.
And you thought owning a puppy was a big responsibility.
So why my one-eighty on guns? In the end, it was the Sandy Hooks Elementary School shooting that became the proverbial straw on the camel’s back.
In that tragedy’s aftermath, I kept coming back to one inescapable thought: Once that cowardly shooter got inside the school, what’s the one thing — aside from him having an immediate, massive stroke right there on the spot — that I could have hoped for? Someone to stop him as quickly as possible, with a minimal loss of life. A trained police officer, preferably. But next best? Any sort of competent, caring adult who had been drilled in the use of firearms, had access to them and was willing to take on the grave responsibility of protecting innocent lives.
Of course, there are those who would say that having an armed and trained teacher in the school only would have made things worse. Really? With 20 children and six adults murdered in cold blood, I’m struggling to picture how an armed teacher could have possibly made things worse. Even a teacher-assailant shootout, with the very real possibility of a stray bullet finding an innocent victim, seems preferable to a killer calmly walking — unmolested — through a school, methodically shooting children and unarmed adults at point-blank range until: A) He runs completely out of ammunition; or B) Law enforcement finally arrives to stop him.
Look, I’ve got no cowboy complex here, no desire to be a hero. But guns aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and all I know is that if my preschool-age grandson had been at that school, I’d want somebody — anybody — to do something. Anything.
So then, until we’re able to figure out a better way to keep more guns out of the hands of bad people? Sorry, but I just think it’s time we started putting more guns in the hands of good people.
Loud, angry screaming at Mark Saal (801-625-4272, email@example.com) begins in three, two, one ...