Saturday, March 7, 2015

A Living, Breathing Contradiction...that's me!

I’m a pretty darn good shot.  It’s not something I spent time practicing, just a natural talent I discovered in young adulthood.  My husband and my father were sitting on the entry stairs of my parents’ farmhouse.  Dad had tied a balloon to a log between two outbuildings about two hundred feet from the house.  Seems there was a pesky groundhog ravaging the garden, and Dad was determined to rid himself of the beast.  The critter was often seen between the two buildings, so the balloon was serving as a slightly bobbing and weaving practice target.

Jim and Dad took turns attempting to shoot the balloon.  They went back and forth numerous times, and the noise of the shots was beginning to grate on my nerves.  I walked out the door and asked what they were doing.  When they told me, I asked if I could take a turn.  They laughed at me, but I insisted.  They handed me the rifle.  I raised it to my shoulder, sited down the barrel, pulled the trigger, and killed the bobbing balloon with one shot.  I handed it back and re-entered the house, leaving the men folk a bit speechless.

That was my first taste of the shooting experience.  I have to admit, I really loved it.  Many years later in 2001, I went to Las Vegas for a seminar on the accurate depiction of weaponry in fiction.  As part of the seminar, a group called TCATT (Tallgrass Center for Advanced Tactical Training), arrived with an SUV loaded with every conceivable firearm.  On the last day of the event, we went to a shooting range and were allowed to try any or all of the weapons in the mobile arsenal.  I shot everything from a snub-nosed 22, to a Colt 45 (huge kick), to two different sizes of Glock, to automatic and semiautomatic rifles.  My favorite weapon was a bolt-action Remington 700 sniper rifle that had the most amazing scope.  I set it on a tripod and began to shoot.  I’m not sure of the exact model of 700, but it had a detachable magazine that I believe held 10 rounds, and I managed to put every one of them directly into center target at 200 yards.  I would still like to own one of those beauties!

So where does the contradiction come into play?  Regardless of how much I love to shoot, I firmly believe that all guns should be registered.  All owners should have to show evidence of training and pass a test for licensing.  And a criminal record or psychological issues should preclude ownership of guns.  This isn’t bleeding-heart liberal blather.  I have to take driver’s education and pass a driving test with a member of the highway patrol in order to get a driver’s license.  In almost every profession, proof of education and subsequent testing are required for licensure.  This is true for doctors, dentists, lawyers and numerous other professionals that we trust with our lives.  If they are found to be criminally negligent, they lose that licensing.  You can’t even get married without a license.  So what sane person would want untrained, untested, criminal, or psychologically deficient people to buy or own guns?

I have to register my car annually and get license plates.  The government is not taking away my car because it is registered.  The argument that the government will come “confiscate” your personal firearms is nothing but an ultra-conservative NRA scare tactic.  It’s time everyone realized those ridiculous statements aren’t worth the breath on which they are uttered.  

And attacking former congresswoman Gabby Giffords with death threats and classless and derogatory remarks, such as “might have to shoot her again” or “too bad the bullet didn’t end her” or “someone needs to take her out” or “my rights trump her getting shot. She’s a piece of shit” is completely out of line.  Then there are the ones that mock her speech, or question her mental capacity, such as “has anyone even heard her talk?  I question if she’s even able to complete a thought or a sentence.”  Or this lovely one “Yes she can speak but …iiitt iiiiiisss soooo haarrrd…weeee mmmust hhaaavve gggun cccontrol…is what it sounds like.  Not just a puppet, a sock puppet.  A political prop for gun control.”  HELLO!  Gabby Giffords is a gun owner, too.  She isn’t promoting a government take-back.  She’s working for responsible ownership.
   
I find these comments incredibly offensive, and I’m not easily offended.  I wonder if those people mock a friend or relative or returning soldier who suffers from a severe brain trauma after being shot in the head.  Gabby Giffords fought her way back from the brink of death.  She has every bit of mental power she had before, but the brain injury prevents her from smoothly articulating the words.  She went from unable to walk, to driving a car.  This woman has more guts and courage than any of those vicious, judgmental souls who seem to think they are better than anyone else and need to place blame and hate on everyone that doesn’t share their political views or religious beliefs. 

I will continue to be a contradiction…loving guns, but promoting firearm registration and abhorring those who foster hate and try to brainwash the public with their scare tactics.  It's time to ignore the 10% of extreme radicals on the right and the 10% of extreme radicals on the left.  It's time for the remaining 80% to find common ground for the good of the nation and the good of the people.  It's time to only vote people into office that will work with each other for their constituents and not sell out to big oil or big banking or the 1% that control all the wealth.