As I read the Father’s Day Tennessean article about a Christiana man becoming a hero after helping capture Georgia fugitives, I found myself confused and puzzled (http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2017/06/17/confrontation-fugitives-sparks-talk-gun-ownership/404600001/).
Generally, I don’t like guns because of dangers like children and adults ending up dead or forever changed by gun accidents and because some people choose to mow down large numbers of people, including children. But, everyone likes a hero, even me. This man handled his gun responsibly and helped catch two dangerous men.
The last time I wrote a Tennessean OpEd about men and their guns, I received more responses than ever before (http://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/contributors/2016/02/27/open-letter-gun-advocates/81004446/). Some called me crazy or a lousy liberal or just someone ignorant about weapons. I agree with the last description.
I also received responses from at least 3 Tennessee and Texas men who wrote about the joy of shooting and their responsible use of guns. Each offered that if I would come visit them, they would teach me to shoot and that I would probably enjoy it. I didn’t take them up on their offers but appreciated their enthusiasm.
Since that time, I have attended a gun show in Lebanon, TN. Amazing. I talked with lots of friendly and peaceful-acting men and women in a large building browsing all types of guns and every accessory imaginable. Aisle upon aisle of armored vests, T shirts, caps, ammunition and so much more, like women’s purses for carrying weapons safely and responsibly.
One female seller encouraged me to buy a purse because “you don’t want to leave home without your weapon!” Truth be told, I recently found out that my great aunt carried her pistol whenever she drove in her car in Atlanta.
I watched women and men proudly carrying their unloaded guns throughout the building. All acted responsibly. I realized that I had known little about this part of gun culture before.
I told a few friends and colleagues about attending the gun show, and one colleague told me how she loved to shoot. Another admitted she had a gun for protection. Having grown up in the South in a hunting family, I wondered why I seemed so naive?
I apologize for having written sarcastically about gun owners’ self esteem and/or their possible lack of confidence in my past OpEd. I still don’t know how we can create a safer society when so many people are walking around with guns even though the “good” gun owners will say that carrying weapons helps keep us all safe.
Guns are still a public health hazard especially when parents act irresponsibly and accidents happen. I can appreciate the safety guns sometimes offer, but the inherent danger and the ease of purchasing guns still create extreme risk of tragedy.