July 1998

Take A Hard Look In The Mirror

Are you doing everything you can to promote firearms safety? Penalty for non-compliance could be your right to bear arms.

Recent incidents where gun-toting youths shot, killed or injured their classmates leave us all shocked and bewildered. Nothing, ever, can justify the taking of innocent life and our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families.

As tragic as these incidents are, random shootings also impact legitimate firearms ownership. It’s not too far a reach to suggest that a public groundswell of anger and grief over these senseless acts could have a negative impact on your second amendment freedoms. Could the revulsion we all feel over these crimes spark the call for a referendum that would repeal the second amendment?

Look at the evidence. The 1968 Gun Control Act and the more recent Brady Law were reactions to the emergence of so-called Saturday Night Specials on the one hand, and a presidential assassination attempt on the other. Gun Tests readers have to ask themselves: Could today’s lawlessness spark the repeal of the gun rights we’ve enjoyed for more than two centuries? Acts of violence give ample ammunition to those who would deprive you of your rights.

What can we as responsible shooters do to stem the tide?

Number One. We need to take responsibility for our guns. The kids who killed their classmates in Jonesboro got their guns illicitly, stealing the unsecured weapons and ammunition from a grandfather. The 15-year-old shooter in Springfield, Oregon, received his Glock 9mm as a gift from his dad, even though press reports indicate the parents were fearful of their son’s mental stability. Obviously, gun safes aren’t enough. Trigger and action locks are indicated in households where children are present. Some shooters say that keeping a loaded pistol at their bedside helps them sleep at night. That simply isn’t possible in homes where children come and go. And those who would argue that trigger locks foster a false sense of security are overstating their case. What’s wrong with another layer of security when the twin perils of further loss of life and the spectre of added regulation loom large?

Plus there’s something more. High-minded shooters need to re-emphasize and re-instill the ethic of personal responsibility that comes with firearms ownership. Safes, locks, action guards and other devices are just the beginning. Modern safety features not withstanding, we need to return to the Old West ethic of putting the hammer on an empty chamber, as opposed to today’s Hollywood-inspired mindset of slapping in a magazine and racking the slide to chamber a round.

Number Two. News reports indicate the kids in Paducah, Jonesboro and Springfield didn’t fully comprehend the magnitude of their actions. Kids who gorge on video games or cartoon shoot-em-ups have become desensitized to the consequences of firearms violence. To them, it’s just another game. Do your part to mentor kids regarding the consequences of improper gun use. Kids shouldn’t touch guns they see—at their own home or in the homes of others. They should be taught to find an adult who can safely handle an unsecured firearm. You need to talk, frequently, to kids about gun safety.

Bottom Line: Take a good look at the person in the mirror and ask, “Am I doing everything I can to keep my guns, my kids, their friends and my home safe? Not just from intruders, but from accidents and theft that could one day play a role in tragedy?”

It starts with each one of us.

-Timothy H. Cole