I am not a gun control fanatic. I do not have a crystal ball to know what new gun laws might do, but common sense tells me we have too many guns in circulation. It is time we did something about it. Maybe I am wrong, but I hope that I have a right to my own opinion on this.
Both the gun lobby and gun control fanatics could argue about what works and what doesn’t work until this moment passes. It would be a tragedy if we let public support for doing something just disappear.
Common sense tells us that we are in an out of control arms race in the United States. To me it is reminiscent of the mutually assured destruction we somehow bought into during the cold war.
Today’s criminal could be armed with a Glock pistol and/or a semi-automatic rifle. There are places where this is reality. To a number of folks it makes some sort of weird sense that the only solution is to be better armed than the best armed criminal.
Unfortunately, too many weapons bought by these people worried about their own safety end up destroying the safety of others.
We do not need regulations that would prevent my wife’s 84 year old aunt or any other sane person from having a shotgun in their house to provide a sense of security.
It also makes no sense to take guns and rifles away from hunters. We have a deer problem along much of the east coast. I am happy to see hunters continue to thin the herd. I am also not adverse to a nice deer tenderloin on my grill.
Being a boy growing up in the rural South, my best friend, Mike, and I often headed off into the woods around Lewisville, North Carolina, with our shotguns looking for small game when we were barely teenagers. It was nothing unusual.
I went off to military school when I was fourteen. We marched with M1s and learned how to clean them. Eventually we even got a chance to shoot them. Guns were a part of my life.
When a college roommate and I spent a summer in Alaska, there were guns legally in my pickup truck. We flew into the Kenai Peninsula by float plane that summer of 1970. Because of the presence of brown bears where we were camping, they would not even fly us in without guns. We were glad to have the guns at night when we could hear the bears wandering around the campsite. While I was fishing for trout with salmon running between my legs, I had a 44 magnum pistol strapped to me. After some practice shots with it, I was pretty sure the only way it would protect me was if I could pull the trigger just after the bear closed his mouth on my gun hand.
After college, I built a cattle operation in the rolling hardwood hills north of Fredericton, New Brunswick. We had salmon in some of the streams and we had lots of bears. One day I was checking the cattle in field one the back of the farm. The herd ran past me and my pickup truck instead stopping for the taste of grain as usual. In an instant I figured out that the last calf was actually a 400 lb black bear. I got in the truck and chased it into the woods. That afternoon the area ranger told me to shoot it on sight if I ever saw it. The bear had lost its fear of humans. I never saw the bear again but I rode around with a 30/06 five shot semi-automatic rifle in my truck for a few weeks. That summer 29 black bears were trapped along the Tay River which bordered our farm.
A year or so later I had a 2200 pound bull go bad and start stalking me. The rifle went back in the truck, but luckily I tricked the bull into a handling chute and loaded him onto a truck headed to the meat packers.
I never had to use my rifle in any of those incidents but I was glad it provided a sense of security at the time. In 1982 we sold all our cattle, and I went to work in the city. In 1984 we moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia where I worked for Apple Computer. Halifax was a peaceful Canadian city, but America and the grandparents were calling so we headed south.
Our time in Canada which ran from 1971 until 1987 ended when my wife and I along with our three children moved to Columbia, Maryland. My Remingtons, Winchesters, and Mossbergs all stayed in Canada. I don’t even remember the regulation that kept them out of the country.
Living between Baltimore and Washington, DC was a culture shock for us. After years in Canada where I would have been hard pressed to recall any gun deaths, we were dropped into a world where the local news was mostly the nightly shootings and murders in DC. While the news was disheartening, we did not go out and rearm ourselves.
We only lived in Columbia for a couple of years before heading down to Roanoke, Virginia. There were far fewer gun incidents in Roanoke but I did work closely with people at Virginia Tech so I got to suffer with them after the mass killings there.
Sometime while we were living in Roanoke, we inherited a shotgun. We still have it with us, but we survived many years without a gun. I didn’t feel any less safe those years.
Canada is a different society than the United States, but Australia which I have also visited might be a little closer in culture to the United States.
However, it is unlikely that either the Canadian model or the Australian model of gun control would work here, but we have to find something better than what we have. Maybe that better is buying back assault rifles and pistols and stricter licensing. Certainly better is not more guns.
We should look very closely at ourselves and realize that we have to change. Getting rid of the some of the guns in our society is just the first step. What is reasonable protection for a homeowner?
Do we really need more handguns in circulation? I never met a Canadian who felt the need to protect their home with a handgun.
Are assault rifles a legitimate hunting weapon? Last time I checked the territory for brown bears is pretty well confined to Alaska and even I might rather have something besides an assault rifle if I faced a big bear. Certainly if you need more than five shots to shoot an animal, you should not have a gun in the first place.
There used to be a law that you could only have three shots in a shotgun magazine. No serious hunter I knew complained of that being a problem. I have shot and butchered animals for our own consumption, but you only need a .22 rifle for that.
As to needing assault weapons to protect us from a government out of control, most people living near Camp Lejeune as we do might argue that if you think an assault weapon will save you from the Marines, you likely are not going to qualify as a sane individual in the first place.
The truth is that the best weapon to protect us from a tyrannical government is the ballot box. I focused on Colonial American History in college, our founding fathers would be shocked at the level of armaments in our homes. They might even argue that we would not need all the guns in the home if we would just disband all our standing armies.
So can we just ditch the nonsense about the average American needing an assault rifle?
Before someone tells me to pack my bags and go back to Canada, understand that our neighbor to the north has more similarities to life in the United States than it does differences. Living there is not a punishment. I would love to ditch my US health insurance with its $5000 annual deductible and $9000 a year premium. However, I would hate to give up my life in the warmth of North Carolina’s Southern Outer Banks
David Sobotta is an author, photographer, and serious fisherman who lives along the White Oak River just up river from Swansboro, North Carolina and not far from the beaches of Emerald Isle, North Carolina. David grew up in Piedmont area of North Carolina just as it was poised for massive change.