The national controversy over gun ownership and the desirability of laws regulating gun ownership continues unabated; indeed, it is exacerbated each time some crazy goes on a shooting rampage.
Generally speaking, conservatives favor unlimited gun ownership, while liberals are in favor of more stringent controls.
I can see merit on both sides of the controversy and will attempt here to explain and/or justify my position.
I grew up in a house with guns. Having firearms in the house was as natural as with any other pieces of "furniture." My dad being an avid hunter and outdoorsman, these firearms usually consisted of a 12-gauge shotgun and a .22 rifle. Pistols were a rarity, as they lacked practicality.
Needless to say, heavy caliber handguns and rapid-fire rifles were never included in dad's "arsenal," being of no use in rural Indiana. Large caliber handguns are good only for shooting people, unless you live in grizzly bear country, which the woods around Sand Creek east of Westport were not. Nevertheless, guns are guns, and they're dangerous. I learned gun safety from an early age and never forgot any of it.
I've owned many guns over the years. By age 16, I owned a .22 rifle, a 16-gauge shotgun and a nice .22 revolver. They were used for rabbit hunting, which I loved at an early age (but havenÔt for many years), and for general plinking.
I frequently took my shotgun and ammo to school so I could get a quick start on rabbit hunting by simply climbing the fence that separated the school yard from fields and woods. Try that now and see how it turns out.
I still believe in citizens' rights to own firearms of a hunting or target shooting type.
I don't believe anyone needs an assault rifle or other semi-military weapon. They are only good for shooting humans and there's no hunting license for that species of mammal.
I also believe that there are far too many people carrying concealed firearms, both legally and illegally. This is not Dodge City in the Wild West Ñexcept in the inner-city, where daily shootings are now typically carried out with expensive 9 mm. semi-automatics. This could be an indication of an improved economic climate, as those folk formerly had to shoot each other with cheap "Saturday Night Specials."
I would agree that a well-made .38 Special revolver or similar firearm is a good tool for home protection.
There were two interesting letters in the Indy Star this past week. They offered the respective writers' views on the 2nd Amendment. The first writer declared that "The definition of militia, as used in the Second Amendment, means the people." I think that interpretation is dead wrong. The second writer, responding to the first, wrote, "What he needs to do now is explain the two words, Ôwell regulated' as they apply to the word militia." He hit the nail on the head.
The word "militia" when standing alone, has several meanings. The addition of the key words "well regulated" refines the term considerably. A "well regulated militia" refers to an organized group of men that can be called up in time of national emergency. "Militia," in the Latin, refers to "military" and "soldier." Early militias could be compared to our Indiana National Guard, prior to the current era of an all-volunteer national army where the Guard is called upon to perform duties formerly handled by the national armed forces.
A militia, in other words, was a quasi-military organization, "well regulated" by a governmental agency. A militia, therefore, and contrary to the one writer's declaration, does not mean simply "the people."
I think many of today's "gun nuts," meaning those who amass quantities of arms and ammunition, really believe, deep down, that at some point they will be called upon to rise up and fight to bring down our own government.
I believe their thinking is twisted. But please don't shoot the messenger.
Resident of Rush County; native of Decatur County
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