Thursday, February 21st, 2013
I might own a gun shop one day. So I’ve felt like an outsider when my friends and peers from my ultra-liberal town in New Jersey have avocated for strict gun control. Their pleas, bleeding with fret and emotion, populate my Facebook feed. They often post pictures of the innocent children who were murdered in Newtown. When the subject comes up–and it always does–at my neighborhood book club or at various get togethers, I try to keep my opinions to myself. If I get into how I really feel, I’m afraid I’ll be asked to leave.
When Newtown happened, I cried just as much as everyone else. I hold sadness in my heart for the victims. I keep picturing the brave principal who tried to stop the crazed shooter. I see her pretty face in my dreams and wonder why she and so many others had to die.
But the vast majority of people who own weapons legally are not crazed. I do not believe guns are bad. I grew up with guns, and when I was 7, my dad taught me to shoot with a Bearcat revolver one day after school. He currently owns a gun shop in my hometown of Jeffersonville, Indiana, a small river community on the Kentucky border. (See left.) He would be the first to say that he is not a young man. So I hope he doesn’t get mad when he finds out that I’ve already thought about what will happen if he dies. Along with my brother, I will inherit his busy, popular gun shop and gunsmith business.
As you already know, Joe Biden sat down with Parents.com’s executive editor Michael Kress this week to talk about this issue. Readers were invited to submit questions via Facebook, and their queries were intelligent and thoughtful–even the ones I didn’t agree with.
I felt deeply relieved to hear Joe Biden speak. He echoed my opinions that I dare only say to my husband. We need to enforce the gun laws that are already on the books. We need to enforce universal background checks and waiting periods. We need to rethink the 100-round clips that go into AR-15s. We should have national gun trafficking legislation. Lost and stolen weapons should be traced. And here is where my dad and I disagree (and he may not speak to me for writing this): I do believe certain types of assault weapons shouldn’t be available to the general public. I have shot AR-15s and a few others. I understand why enthusiasts–mostly aging collectors and former military people–cling to them. They are, when used with the utmost safely at gun ranges, extremely fun to shoot. But they’re not necessary for sporting, hunting or self-defense. Too many bad things have been done with easily-obtained assault weapons. That said, I know how AR owners feel. They are law-abiding citizens who don’t see why their rights should be taken away because of the deranged few.
Joe Biden is right. Keep the legally-obtained double-barreled shotgun. Fire two shots up at the sky out your back door if you hear an intruder. Keep the hunting rifles. Keep the handguns that come with extra responsibility–they are easily hidden, and in the wrong hands, can be very dangerous.
Ask parents if they own guns, where they keep them, and then decide if you feel comfortable going to that house. I know that today’s gun cabinets and safety features are excellent, so I don’t have a problem with it. I would only let my kids go to responsible, law-abiding peoples’ houses anyway. If you disagree, you are entitled to that opinion.
I say all of this, but I do not own guns. The ones I shoot are at my parents’ house. My husband won’t let me have them, and I respect his strong feelings. We don’t agree, but he treats me with understanding. He goes out shooting with my dad sometimes, too. This controversy runs deep with me. I find myself trying to get the liberals to see the gun owners’ side, and I try to get the gun owners to at least consider some liberal points. Gun control is polarizing. I can’t win, and I’m not trying to. But I know one thing won’t change: When people speak vehemently against guns, I take it personally. I love and support my dad.