The National Rifle Association says it’s time for law-abiding citizens to get guns and get trained in how to use them. America’s gun culture demands it, they say, and my good friend and fellow columnist Mark Saal said as much on Sunday.
“I do believe it’s time I accepted more responsibility for my own safety,” he said.
And while it’s often hard to tell if Mark is serious, he sure sounds that way here.
Interestingly, also in Sunday’s paper, I saw where Deputy Weber County Attorney Gary Heward said guns everywhere, owned by good and bad people, are a huge problem.
Cops don’t like guns in any situation, especially family disputes, even at the homes of good people. They know that emotions can make good people go loco. They know both sides of a family or gang fight consider police the enemy.
And now, Heward said, so many homes have guns that police pretty much assume the worst when they visit. That’s why Ogden police were aggressive in a recent attempt to find a military deserter in an Ogden home.
I don’t have a problem with responsible people owning guns. I have a black powder rifle myself. If you must get one, do it right and get properly trained.
But first, consider the alternatives. We should be doing a lot more to mitigate the problem before we resort to arming ourselves. Instead of abandoning our institutions of public safety, we should be making them stronger.
Consider mental illness, which gets a lot of blame for gun problems.
We used to have national mental health programs, but Ronald Reagan’s “New Federalism” cut the funding. Local communities were supposed to take care of their own, but when they saw the bill, they balked. A lot of mentally ill individuals ended up walking the streets.
National funding for mental illness needs to be restored. Meanwhile, we can support local agencies, such as The Family Counseling Service, 3518 Washington Blvd., Ogden. It is a sliding-fee service that tries to take up the slack of cut federal and state programs. A donation (call 801-399-1600) will go directly to preventing someone from losing it.
We can fight gang gun culture by donating to after-school programs: YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, Youth Impact.
After-school programs are a cheap way to attack the problem. A good handgun costs around $400. If every home in Ogden gave Rob Hall at Youth Impact just $5, he’d think he’d died and gone to heaven.
Raise taxes for more police. The NRA says when you need a gun in seconds, police are just minutes away, but aggressive community policing makes crime-ridden areas safe and kid-friendly. Cops walking a beat were a major factor in cleaning up Ogden’s 25th Street.
Is there still a chance of some wing-nut going postal? Sure, but if we attack the problem at the base, we improve overall safety.
In addition to the standard gun safety course, anyone who wants a gun for defense should also call the Roy Police Department and say they want to take the rapid response course, which I did a story on in April. (http://www.standard.net/stories/2012/04/06/nothings-fair-about-mass-shoo...)
We aren’t plinking milk jugs here, we’re hunting man.
That man wants you dead and doesn’t mind dying in the process. You must risk getting shot to get him. This class teaches how.
The abbreviated class I took scared the willies out of me. The full two-day course scares the willies out of real cops. Training and teamwork are the keys.
Finally, if you do get a gun, buy a gun lock.
A 1998 national study by Emory University found that “for every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.”
It would be sad if someone you love got hurt because you took responsibility for your safety. A good lock improves your odds, especially with curious grandchildren around.