Gun control: Is it the gun or is it the person?

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Story by ANDY LYONS, News Editor—
AndyThe debate about gun control has really heated up during the past year.
From the shooting during a premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo., to the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, gun violence is at the forefront.
U.S. legislators are mulling over changes to the laws that govern the purchase and ownership of firearms for an entire country, a country founded by men with personal firearms.
Growing up, my father didn’t own a plethora of weapons.
He had a .22-calibur pump rifle, a double-barreled 16-gauge shotgun and a bb-gun that was a pistol.
I was never allowed to handle any of these guns until my first hunting trip.
My father and a friend of his were quail hunting, and I was the 11-year-old spotter.
I didn’t get to even hold one of the guns while the three of us walked across soybean fields and through copses of trees looking for our prey.
We finally came across a bevy of quail and they took to the air.
The wings sounded like the blade of helicopter, and I was the one that spooked them up.
My dad and his friend loosed the full fury of their shotguns.
They didn’t kill anything.
When we got back to our “camp,” I was finally allowed to fire the shotgun.
I squeezed the triggers to both barrels and it threw me backwards about six feet and I landed flat on my back.
After that, my dad taught me how to properly load and fire the .22 and then how to clean it when we got home.
Throughout my life, my dad has always had the utmost respect for his weapons.
When I turned 14, he bought me a semi-automatic .22 that I then would use when we went to shoot.
More recently, my younger brother has started a handgun collection.
Before shooting his handguns, my brother explained proper safety procedures and how to clear the chamber, how to hand it to someone else, and other “need-to-knows” when it comes to handgun safety.
My point is, when it comes to firearms, people need to know how to safely use them.
Social media has been full of, “If guns kill people, spoons make people fat or alcohol makes people drunk, etc.” memes.
I’d have to say I agree.
It’s not the firearms that are opening fire on innocent people.
It’s people that are firing them, for a multitude of reasons.
Whether it’s an assassination attempt on a senator, or a heinous plot to mass-murder people in a theater or showing the gun to a friend and having it discharged accidently, shootings happen all the time because we have the freedom to own the guns.
There is no part of the Second Amendment that says we are legally obligated to be responsible with the firearms we own; perhaps it is time to pay more attention to who owns the guns and who would have access to them.
I’m sure there are illegal sales of firearms happening in the U.S., but the majority of the shootings in recent years had weapons that were obtained legally at point of sale.
It’s tangibles such as how they’re stored and who has access that played a factor at Sandy Hook.
Then there’s the mental stability in the Aurora and Tuscan.
I think people should be checked more thoroughly before firearms are sold to them though.
It was reported that Adam Lanza, accused in the Sandy Hook shooting, stole the firearms he allegedly used from his mother.
It’s also been reported that he is mentally unstable. If true, why would his mother (who reportedly owned the weapons used) trust him with firearms?
I strongly believe that people with all sorts of mental conditions should be screened before purchasing weapons.
I wish that “why” could be a question asked when firearms are purchased, although everyone could say “to target shoot,” “home protection” or “hunting.”
But really, suspects such as Seung-Hui Cho in the Virginia Tech massacre, legally obtained the firearms used in the slaying of innocent people.
In an article on nbcnews.com, a firearm retailer is quoted as saying, “It was a very unremarkable sale. He was a nice, clean-cut college kid. We won’t sell a gun if we have any idea at all that a purchase is suspicious.”
Does that mean I think everyone should have an AR-15?  No.
But in the U.S. we are guaranteed our right to choose if we want one or not with our Second Amendment rights.
I feel like deeper checks such as mental health evaluations and required safety courses would make the situation a bit safer, but I think attempting to ban certain guns is silly.
The bottom line is that if people really want a specific firearm, they’ll find a way to obtain it.
I’m a strong proponent for the argument that if a criminal really wants an M4 semi-automatic rifle he will find a way to obtain it, despite any strict rules and regulations.
Whether you hunt or target shoot or even own guns because you like them, always remember the safety of yourself and those around you.
Most importantly, be sure you’re making the right decisions when it comes to carrying and using your firearms, because the future of U.S. citizens is in the balance.