My opinion on guns changed because of my son. He’s 13 now, but 10 and a half at the time. When I have him, I like going places that will give us more perspectives we’d never before considered. Before the day I’m about to describe, I was afraid of guns. Hated them. Didn’t see why anyone needed one. Figured they could go away ASAP and I’d be a happy man about it.
When trying to decide what we wanted to do one afternoon, my son and I saw a sign for a gun show. Caden had never been told how to feel about guns. I enjoy seeing him experience something, form his own conclusions, and then discuss with me his perspective. The gun issue was the same way.
We went into this gun show and it scared me a bit. All of those guns sitting around with all of these people who reminded me of back woods redneck hicks… ugh. If my son wasn’t with me at the time, I would have had an arrogant attitude and looked condescendingly at these people. I’m just being honest. But since he WAS with me, I spoke to them with respect. To be a good example. I like him to listen to others, so I listened at this show. My heart started changing. These people didn’t deserve the stereotype I was placing on them. Many of them might be considered under-educated by intellectual snobs, but they were not crazy.
My son saw a .22 rifle that he really wanted. His eyes lit up and I knew I wouldn’t deny him. I was in an emotional state, after realizing how judgmental I’d been towards people with whom I’d never actually conversed, and I also rarely say “no” to my son if his request is reasonable. I purchased that rifle.
I decided that if I was going to teach my son to shoot, I’d better educate myself on guns. I enrolled in courses at the local indoor shooting range. I purchased safety equipment and practiced shooting. I read laws online. I joined discussion forums. I listened to the gun types talk at gun stores and at the range. I came to know a group of very responsible people who took guns seriously.
I started running into people I’d never expect to see inside a gun store. Little old ladies from churches I’d attended. Soft spoken old men. People from all walks of life. Not crazies, just people.
My fear of guns totally changed. I kept taking classes because I wanted to be a more responsible parent if I was going to be the one teaching my son about them. One thing led to another, and soon I had a permit to carry concealed, and I knew how to handle the weapons I now owned (I ended up purchasing a total of 6 guns: 3 rifles and 3 handguns).
Here in California, to do so legally, every person has to purchase guns from a reputable dealer. Each of those dealers encourages people to take the same steps I took. Many do. I’ve learned it’s quite arrogant of me to think my fellow gun owners aren’t responsible, intelligent people. Are there exceptions? Sure. But I am quite confident that the majority of people who own guns are not people any of us should fear.
“80 million American gun owners killed nobody yesterday!” That’s not just some trite statement, it reveals a lot of truth: the VAST majority of gun owners are responsible in their handling of guns.