The “dawn of a new day” is supposed to allow us to start fresh from whatever troubles we underwent the day before. Sadly, today that notion holds no water. Whether you live here in South Florida as we do, or you live “off the grid” and you heard the news on amateur radio, today the sunlight is obscured by the ethereal gun smoke that still hangs over our community where this tragedy occurred and that also drifts over our society as another mass shooting occurs.
We will soon hear to “facts” from proponents of the rights accorded by our Second Amendment and from those that demand absolute gun control. Again, subsequent to Columbine, University of Virginia, Sandy Hook, Orlando and Las Vegas, those who the citizens have elected will take sides as thy always do, but in all likelihood, will produce little action, if any at all.
I started enjoying the hobby of target shooting in junior high school, when I joined the rifle club. Starting with pellet rifles, then moving to a .22 caliber and finally to an M-1 over the two years, I worked my way up and received my medal as a marksman. Years later, I spent two different school years studying in Israel, 1972-1973 and 1975-1976. While there, I often visited an indoor target range and learned to shoot various caliber handguns, several long guns and the famous, Israeli Uzi. Remember, at this time, every young man and woman at age 18, was required to enroll in the Israeli Defense Forces for three years and open weapon carrying was a common site in Israel, on the streets, in restaurants and even movie theaters.
I spent four years in the suburban area outside Greensboro NC, where I began my fire service avocation in a volunteer fire department in the mid-to-late 1970’s. Many of my colleagues there, were hunters, responsible hunters, some using rifles and shotguns, other using bows and arrows. I even went hunting once or twice. We got “skunked,” but enjoyed ourselves anyway.
When I moved to upstate New York in the early 1980’s for a new job, I felt that due to the substantial amounts of money I handled each week, I wanted to apply for a gun permit. At that time, New York State had some of the strictest laws in this country regarding procuring a concealed weapon’s permit. Each permit application had to be submitted to a judge in the appropriate county, who would review the applicant’s background and decide if the answer would be “YES” or “NO.” That process could be completed in a week or take months. In my case, it took about a month.
Was I upset that I had to wait? Not in the least? Did I have an immediate and overwhelming need to defend myself that should allow me to receive an expedited issuance of my permit? No. I simply waited until I received the permit in the mail and then went to the sporting good store, where I had selected my handgun several weeks prior to receipt of my permit.
I had actually joined the NRA while in 7th grade. We did so as part of the rifle class. And I kept up that membership until the first time I saw the politicizing of the organization. Today, they could not even pay me to be a member again, for their diatribes against almost any type of gun control are the antithesis to the tenets it held dearly in those earlier years.
I strongly believe in the right for Americans who can meet the proper federal and/or state guidelines, to bear arms and this issue will not be mitigated simply by banning this weapon or that weapon. Hunters should be allowed to hunt. Target shooters should be able to shoot. Personal protection through concealed weapons should be allowed. All of these through a set of laws and regulations that not only protect those rights, but also help guard against the abuse. And the only way this will happen is if we cease the hysteria on both sides of the issue and work together to create the type of legislation that not only protects those rights, but also protects the citizens of this country.
Will this be easy to do? Of course not. However, if we do not find a way to push our preconceived arguments aside and come together with open minds and our palms up, then we will see this tragedy and its sorrowful aftermath happen over and over again.
One last fact – did you know that the United States has more mass shootings than any other country in the world!
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