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Guns and Safety

There are no easy answers

I don’t really understand the need to own guns. I don’t really get the mental benefit of having a firearm. Especially carrying one with you everywhere you go.

I am also 6'5" and 350lbs. I am a big guy. I look like a big guy. There is no mistaking my imposing size. I get acknowledged when we travel by locals. I get the “Hey big man!” call when I am out roaming around.

I have never felt unsafe. I used to work for the college newspaper at VCU in Richmond, VA. Twice a week we would finish the newspaper and I would walk across campus to deliver the completed pages.

We would usually finish between 4-6am. I would walk across campus during that time for a couple years. I passed students, the local homeless guys, and all sorts of shady looking people roaming around the city at that hour.

I never felt unsafe. Was I just as much of a victim-to-be as anyone else? In theory yes. Was I a less appealing target than a smaller guy or a girl, yes.

I’m a large man. I’ve never had to fear for my safety. I’ve never thought much about where I was except in certain particularly bad parts of Richmind. It was news when Richmond wasn’t in the top 25 most dangerous cities in the US. I wasn’t in Richmond during the height of its murderous history, but I was there for its second coming. I attended VCU from 2000-2004 and lived in the city until 2010.

However, on a day to day basis I was not afraid for my personal safety. I wonder if carrying firearms gives other people this feeling of confidence and safety. Does it replace what being a large man does for me?

I have nothing against people who wish to own and use guns. I grew up in a small, rural town where most of my high school would be absent when deer hunting season started.

I knew when the various hunting seasons were and whether they were bow hunting or gun hunting and what animals were fair game. I grew up with plenty of country boys who had grown up shooting and knew how to handle guns with care and respect.

I took a gun safety course in middle school. Everyone did because so many of the kids were going to hunt, the school decided to teach every student the basics of gun safety. It wasn’t a bad idea to go over the basics of gun and hunting safety. I enjoyed the class and even though I never used what I learned in practice, it was good knowledge to have.

I don’t fear guns. I know the basics of safely handling them. I just don’t have much of an interest in them. They exist. People have them. I pray they aren’t used against me. That’s as much thought as I give to them.

I’ve shot a variety of shotguns and rifles before. I’ve gone skeet shooting with cousins and uncles. I won a ham at an event to benefit a local 4-H group with my stepfather’s 12 gauge shotgun.

I understand the basics and I have no problems with them. I do worry about people who do not know how to safely handle and use guns.

I do worry about the accidental discharge that can injure innocent people.

I do worry about the mass shootings in this country. It’s been 22 Days since our last one as of this writing. I worry about the history of mass shootings and what little is being done to change what is causing people to want to pickup a gun and open fire at other people.

I am not for banning all guns now and forever. There are certain types of weapons I believe should not be able to own without proper training.

No private citizen needs a rocket launcher or grenade launcher. No private citizen needs grenades for that matter. No private citizen needs to have a flamethrower. Or a machine gun. You don’t have a machine gun nest and you’re not defending a beach head so you don’t have any need for such a weapon that serves only one purpose.

Civilians do not need to have military weaponry. If you want to have the firepower to kill lots of people quickly, then go join the military and put those interests to good use.

Guns are not the problem. They are a tool. Their ubiquity is a reality we will have to deal with. There are no easy answers but we need to look for a solution. Far too many people are killed every year in shootings, whether they be accidental or purposeful.