Date: May 4, 2013
Subject: When Should A Kid Be Introduced To Firearms?
OP-ED by John Liming
To: The Sane Among Us
In my day – - – 1938 to now – - – the idea of when a kid should be allowed to have any kind of gun with live ammunition was more or less decided by parents, members of the local community including store owners who sold guns and ammo – - – local mayors and members of councils who passed ordinances about guns and the local police departments who decided when to enforce and how to enforce things concerned with guns – - – the carrying of guns and the firing of guns.
My dad decided that the age of 16 was plenty early for me to own my first gun but he did not buy it for me. If I wanted a gun, I was going to have to do some work to earn it – - – this included household chores and odd jobs – - – such as mowing neighbor’s lawns – - – that I could get for myself saving the few bucks I could save up until I had the price of - – - my very first “real” gun.
My challenge did not end with acquiring the wherewithal to obtain the weapon however – - – if the local hardware store owner – - – who just happened to know every detail of the life history of everyone who ever lived in our small Midwestern town – - – decided that a person was not “responsible” enough or “sensible” enough to run around with a loaded firearm – - – then that store owner wasn’t about to sell one to somebody whom he had doubts about and there was little that could be done about it.
I remember a few of those old merchants saying things like, “This is a free country and if I don’t want to sell a gun to somebody then I damn well, sure as hell ain’t gonna sell it!” And that – - – my fine feathered friends – - – was the end of the matter. I mean whatta ya gonna do – - – sue them and make them sell the gun? Like as not the local judges would wrinkle up their noses, stare down the length of their glasses and inform the plaintiff, “I agree with the store owner young man and you have wasted your time and your parent’s money coming to court on this one.” – - – of course back then – - – like now – - – there was no way a kid was ever going to “sue” an adult in court about anything – - – I was just saying!
From the time I was maybe born until my 16th birthday, the closest thing to a real gun I ever owned was my Red Ryder BB gun, or a CO-2 powered pellet rifle or pistol – - – or the infamous “Cap Guns” with which we always managed to play “Cops and Robbers.” Things were different back in those days.
Nowadays I hear there are some jurisdictions that are treating pellet guns and bb guns the same as if they were actual gunpowder-firing weapons – - – and I think that is kind of nutwad – - – but locals can do what locals want to do with their jurisdictional laws and ordinances I guess!
If a kid had showed up somewhere in my old neighborhood brandishing a real rifle or a handgun – - – even something as simple as an innocuous 22-caliber short-rifle gun – - – why the Riot Squad would have been called out, the community locked down and all the local news hawks would descend like vultures on a carcass. Such things simply did not happen back then and were not tolerated by the community.
This is not to say that a young guy or gal couldn’t get the “thrill of the hunt” from time to time by accompanying a parent on a field trip to “hunt ducks” or something.
During some of these times with my dad I was allowed the occasional thrill of firing his double-barreled shotgun – - – under strictest supervision of course – - -often getting knocked on my ass from the recoil in the bargain – - – but to have been allowed to run around anywhere near my dad with my own weapon and live ammo would have been considered by my Dad and – - – everyone in the community to be “crazy.”
My Dad just happened to be the sexton of a large local community cemetery and we had some close friendships with some local funeral directors. The very first “dead person” I ever saw in a coffin was a young man – - – maybe 15 or 16 years old – - – the son of a prominent local merchant – - – who had been killed in a hunting accident in a local field. That vision never left me and that has been more than 60 years ago now.
No, I grew up in what I consider to have been more sane and responsible times and selling a gun culture to “Infants” was simply not part of the picture.
By the way – - – some dictionaries – - – especially legal dictionaries – - – still define “Infant” as anyone who has not yet reached the age of majority – - – which, in some jurisdictions is still a mere 18 years of age.
I remember bitching and moaning a lot when I was a Teen because I couldn’t drink 3.2% beer legally until I was 18. So when I turned 18, I was in The Army National Guard – - – feeling all in the world like a grown man – - – and going to the Base Exchange every night after the duty day was done to swill 3.2 with my buddies. It was during this wonderful time of my life when I also got to shoot all the M-1 rifles and 30-caliber and 50-caliber machine guns and rocket launchers and all the other good stuff that I wanted to – - – on a shooting range – - – under the watchful eye of – - – qualified instructors – - – but I never owned an M-1 or a rocket launcher – - or a Sherman Tank – - – or an F-14 fighter jet – - – or a B-24 Liberator bomber aircraft.
Lately – - – after watching the evening news casts and listening to some radio and reading some papers and magazines and talking to a few friends, I have come to the conclusion that it is probably a stupid, irresponsible and unreasonable idea to give a kid under a certain age a gun and live ammunition.
To some of the more “beer-bellied-backward baseball cap” types, this might seem to be a really “Manly” thing to do for a kid – - – but then some of those folks also probably think a stuffed deer head with antlers makes the best-looking contemporary table lamp that money can buy and I am pretty certain that in some cases the curtains in their pickup are probably more expensive than the blankets covering the windows of their houses – - – so maybe their conceptualizations might be a little different from mine – - – but that is alright because – - – after all – - – this is still America, isn’t it dude?
My bitch with some of those kind of ideological anomalies is that I have not yet decided that Gee-Zuss came to earth and died so that I can drink beer and buy guns! But maybe I am out of touch because I am getting older now.
I also am a firm subscriber to a staunch – - – immoveable – - – unshakeable faith – - – that testosterone makes the man – - – not gunpowder! I have a sneaking suspicion that some – - people – - – might actually get – - – “turned on” – - – by their gun collections. If that is true, then I think it is borderline something or other and I don’t want to go there right now.
No! I cannot be convinced that a “real” gun with “real live ammunition” is any kind of “toy” to be “played with” by a legally definable “Infant” of any chronological age – - – but then there are plenty of angry Righties out there ready to pounce on that attitude and leave nasty comments on this blog.
There is some hope however – - – maybe there is some hope – - – maybe a small ray of hope – - – because I have read at least one “Conservative” site lately where at least one writer tends to agree with my assessment.
I am not going to link to that site, but I can suggest that anyone who might want to read a little more about this subject can probably find some interesting leads by typing the following words – - – without the parentheses or the quotation marks – - – into the search window of a computer browser. The words I suggest are: ”Should Parents Introduce Guns”
Well – - – on to other territory now – - – I guess I have covered this subject pretty well for the time being – - – even though I know there will probably be more to come as time goes by.
Bye for now!
Very truly yours,
The Picture above is from outtacontext and is used here under a creative commons license.