Talking with a Gun Enthusiast

I don’t, usually, talk with gun enthusiasts. I didn’t grow up with guns; they simply weren’t part of my east coast family life. My Iowa relatives had single bore rifles on the farms to deal with varmints, and several of them were in the military where they learned marksmanship on a wider range of firearms. My late husband Jerry was drafted at the height of the Vietnam war; his involvement with guns, such as it was, lasted no longer than his two-year obligation.

I’m checking on a house for a friend who is out of town for a few days. When I went in yesterday, the heat was off and it fell to me to track down a heating tech on a Saturday. The young man who came was talkative: a recent Marine veteran, he spent five years of military service as an electronics tech working on helicopters. A civilian again at 25, he found a good job fixing electronic heating systems.

He segued from that to talk about his love of guns, which is how he spends his spare time — target shooting, cleaning his weapons, going to gun shows. I listened, and said simply that I wasn’t a fan. He rushed to tell me that he believes in sensible regulations, and told me what he thought they should be. I agreed with most, except for his belief that all high school students should be taught to shoot and have to learn basic gun safety.

The point is we talked for several minutes, without rancor, about one of the most highly contentious issues in our culture. I have a feeling that absent the rigid positions of the NRA, and with some return of bipartisanship in Congress — both about as likely as Martians landing to attend Trump’s inauguration — we could come up with a compromise on guns that most people could live with.

Martians aren’t coming as far as I know, and neither is agreement on gun control any time soon. But it’s not because the outlines of an agreement are too hard to discern, but because people with differing views can’t find a way to share what we really believe.

14 thoughts on “Talking with a Gun Enthusiast

  1. A thought provoking piece, this one.

    I stay away from gun enthusiasts to be honest. None of the ones I knew really believed in any fair regulations and they all voted for Trump.

    There has just been too many incidents in the news with gun violence lately. Seems it strikes closer and closer to home. My stepdad’s parents worked at the airport in the terminal the Florida shooter was active. And last year my best friend’s cousin was shot in the Brussels attack.

    I figure the best way to safeguard myself is to stay away from the ones I know..

  2. I commend you for listening to this young man, I don’t think I could have done so without loudly proclaiming my views. It raises the question for me about what to do with all the young people who are taught to shoot to kill in the armed services, and then come home to be “civilians”.

  3. Ahhh, so many views on the topic. I was raised with hunters and guns , locked gun cabinets and all in the home. I was taught gun safety and how to handle a firearm respectfully and in the right manner. I was also taught to shoot targets, never did I find it in me to hunt as the family tradition was. Later in life I married a policeman, so the guns and locked gun safes in the house continues. We have children and they are raised to understand the violence of them, but also the protection they can serve. Everyone has a view, I’d say 90% of us are the ones who aren’t going out doing these senseless killings. It’s the demented 10% that gun control and access to guns is an issue for and that % is what we have no idea on how to regulate or control.
    In my opinion .

  4. Thank you J for your comments. I consider myself anti-gun. I needed a bolt of logic from a person who respects gun ownership and values the protection they offer. You make me think.

  5. for Alexis: The chance of being injured or killed in random gun violence is still quite low, but that doesn’t take away the fear of it. And there are lots of instances of guns kept without proper safety measures at home causing tragedy, often when the weapons fall into the hands of children. I don’t know what the answer is here. Since the Heller decision re-interpreted the right to bear arms as an individual right, I don’t see gun owners voluntarily giving up guns any time soon. The best we can hope for, I think, is some reasonable controls. But how to get there is beyond me.

  6. for Jackie: I think you identify a real problem, especially when we know that mental health issues often follow ex-soldiers home.

  7. for J: There are certain things that seem obvious to me, like the difference between guns people use for hunting and full-on assault weapons. Can’t see why those need to be in private hands. And some people just shouldn’t have weapons, like those involved in domestic violence, crimes in which people are wounded or killed, or acts of terror. I don’t know why we can’t start with things like this, and work toward the places that are harder to agree on.

  8. I totally agree Pam with you above regarding the types of people who should’ve have guns, we do need to start somewhere.

  9. for J: We do. And it requires, at the very least, sitting down and understanding where each side is coming from.

  10. Well as gun violence gets closer and closer to home for me – from family to friends of family – it might not be as low for me as you. Many of my family members work high risk jobs in security or at the airport, myself included.

  11. for Alexis: There are certainly higher risk locations, and it sounds as if you and those close to you spend fair amounts of time in one — airports. I didn’t mean to diminish the concern about gun violence in any way — it potentially affects all of us, or any of us, at any moment. The most frightening thing to me is people who seem to be perfectly “normal” members of society until they cork off and start shooting people. Hard for any of us to avoid that.

  12. This is true, but its also why I stay away from people with a fascination with guns. Inevitably that’s the weapon of choice here. There’s no foolproof way to stay safe, but better something than throw our hands up and say nothing can be done.

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