Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Guns and regulations

In the name of full disclosure: I, yes, the above person, am a gun owner. Multiple gun owner of both rifles and handguns-- no assault rifles. I had my first .22 at twelve-- which I had asked for as my Christmas present. I treated it with great care with a gun cleaning kit which I still have even though with the bullets of today cleaning guns doesn't happen with the regularity it did back then. 

In our home right now there are loaded rifles and handguns. That only changes when the grandchildren come to visit and everything goes into a locked gun cabinet which is steel, bolted to the floor and has the kind of keys that if you lose yours, you have to send back to the company that made it to get another. Our home in Tucson also has a gun, ammunition, and a locked gun safe. 

My first gun was gotten because I had seen our sheep torn apart by neighbor dogs who were coming up to chase and shred living animals. I wanted something to patrol our 80 acre farm and kill those dogs if I saw one in killing mode. I still have that .22 but prefer another one now that has more range. I have shot all my guns. I have shot them at living beings. I didn't want to kill coyotes, but I also didn't want more dead lambs and crying ewes. 

When Oregon allowed for concealed weapon permits, Farm Boss and I were among the early applicants. I hear a lot of fear over these permits but haven't heard much about the crimes committed by someone who has one. In Oregon it required taking a class, fingerprints, photographs, references, no record of offenses, and approval by the state. We got ours to enable us to carry a handgun in the vehicle and have it loaded and hidden. We do sometimes have a gun with us when we travel. We never have one with us when grandchildren are part of the travel.

A handgun, a loaded one, is not far from my reach when I am on the computer. I would not think of using it-- unless someone broke into my home; and then if I didn't know I could use it, I wouldn't have it. That was one of the points of the class. A handgun is not a deterrent. It's not something to wave around and threaten. If it is pointed at someone, it should be only when fully prepared to pull the trigger. Otherwise it becomes a danger to the one carrying it.

My father taught me good gun safety. Like when walking with a rifle (or handgun) no fingers inside the trigger guard. Safety on. Never put a finger near a trigger unless ready to pull it. Do not fire at something when you don't know what's behind it. Don't fire at something when you don't know for sure what it is. 

Guns are tools and like a chain saw or a tractor or many other tools, they are not to act macho or impress someone. For me, they are meant for protection from a predator. They are to kill an animal that is down and needs to be put out of its misery. Where I live, a lot of people hunt and they need that food. I know others enjoy them for target practice. The rules for gun safety should be part of all of that and the recklessness that I sometimes see where someone shoots up a highway sign infuriates me because it means that person didn't deserve having a gun.

I expect to keep my guns until the day I am dead, too senile or weak to use one. I do not feel any threat from the government to take them.

Reasonable regulations are NOT a threat to a legal, responsible gun owner and everybody who is one ought to speak out in support of effective gun regulations. When they don't, do they truly believe they are immune to being at a political rally and having someone start shooting, that they could not be in a movie theater when bullets are rapidly fired, or their children/grandchildren in school when someone comes in with a semi-assault rifle? 

The argument that guns prevent crimes is as stupid as saying taking all guns will prevent it. There is a picture out there showing President Reagan right before he was shot.  Guns were all around him. Did that stop the shooter? Nobody can take all the guns. They might get those from law abiding citizens but the ones most likely to commit a crime with a gun? Are they kidding!

At Tucson's political event, there was an armed citizen there. Because he was responsible, he wasn't sure who was the shooter and he waited, then he helped to subdue him rather than use the gun with the risk of shooting the wrong person.

In the Aurora movie theater, the shooter was wearing body armor (what's up with letting that be sold to ordinary people), so like where would the citizen with a gun shoot assuming in the chaos they could get a good shot. 

In the school, really we want guns around kids when we could just make the doors impossible to break through? Seriously we want all janitors armed? Do they get checked now like I was for my concealed weapon permit? What about having panic buttons in the front offices that bring the police on a dime? There are a lot of things that could be done but having more guns in the school, around children, doesn't strike me as one of them

The extreme right is launching an attack on Obama and even his family. Frankly some of them seem to have gone over a legal line in their threats. Are they asking for attacks on this man or his family? You'd think Obama was Hitler and out to take away all freedoms. When you hear them rant or write, they sound ready to shoot anybody who disagrees with them-- which would include gun owners like me. 

From the GOP, even elected leaders, I hear a lot of loose talk about the Bill of Rights and how Obama would take our rights. Excuse me but this is the same bunch who said nothing when Bush did exactly that with his Presidential assault on the Bill of Rights (as in the right to a trial for all citizens).

Real background checks, delayed purchases to give time for those, and a ban on extended magazines, semi-assault and assault rifles would be a good start.  As a gun owner, I don't see this as a threat on my right to own guns. I see it as making it possibly safer the next time I go to a mall. I wouldn't stop with banning the sales of these war weapon. I'd make their ownership illegal after a year's time to do a buyback.

And the NRA, don't even get me started on them. They began many years ago to push assault rifles as a macho need for Americans. They offended Farm Boss at that time so much that he stopped being a member. Every responsible owner of guns should do likewise. What on earth is wrong with the NRA or their defenders? One thing I can say is they regard those who follow them as gullible and stupid. 

Without a doubt, guns aren't enough. There has to be more done on mental health, but war weapons are a good start. I do not believe that responsible gun ownership means the right to help ordinary citizens stock up enough arms to attempt to attack Washington DC or stand up against the US military when they decide they didn't like the laws passed in a democracy. Supposedly we vote-- not shoot someone or blow up their buildings (thinking Oklahoma City now). 

The Second Amendment to the Constitution says:  

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.  

First of all that refers to a well-regulated militia under the auspices of the government, doesn't it? It was done during a time when the Indian wars were still a part of everyday life and during the time where there were still wars against other countries. It relates to the security of the State which is anything but what I hear from the radical right. It also refers to well-regulated which means regulations are in order.

Wild talk won't help anything, but it will make more money for talk show hosts and those who have no other way to get dollars other than such causes. I even heard Ted Nugent suggesting the police should stand against any laws that he and his ilk don't like. 

Listening to a right wing talk programs as they ranted about this, I heard a list of Oregon (and some other states) sheriffs who said they would disobey any executive orders. Isn't that asking for insurrection? We enforce the laws we like and not those we dislike? Likely this will all head for the Supreme Court and which way will they go?

Hopefully responsible gun owners will speak up and support reasonable restrictions before half the country gets so angry at the carnage that another Amendment to the Constitution is attempted-- one to ban all guns-- while the other half sets out to start a civil war. Listening to that talk program and the idiocy advocated there, I can see how this could turn very violent. 

The support for owning assault rifles just amazes me. And why are they supported-- according to that host because they fire bullets and anything that does should be legal. 

Recently two guys walked around downtown Portland with assault rifles swung over their shoulders to show they could. So how do citizens tell the difference between them and the guy who recently started shooting in the mall? My best guess is only after bullets are flying.

Every time I hear someone talk civil war or revolution so casually, I wonder if they ever pay attention to who leads a nation after such in other places-- the meanest, most brutal, charismatic dictator, that's who. Really, that sounds better than elected officials? Anyone who says yes is ignorant and shouldn't be owning any gun-- let alone a war weapon.


Diane Widler Wenzel said...

There are many well written points to your post "Guns and regulations." What really stands out is the wording of the Second Amendment. "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." I am musing on what a well regulated Militia means. What is the relationship between "Well regulated" to "the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."? It does not say guns it says "arms". According to Webster Arms is defined: "A means of offense or defense especially firearms." Does this also mean citizens can not form an armed citizen posse? Organized groups of armed people must be well regulated by the government. If the purpose of the Constitutional freedom is to protect the nation with a government regulated militia, maybe the Second Amendment needs to be defined more clearly? Guns for farmers and self protection is not a constitutional right, but arms for well regulated militias are. So government regulated militias can own and bear arms such as assault weapons.
The problem is we need immediate reasonable action and so President Obama's measures are still the best in my opinion.

Dick said...

I don't understand why a "sportsman" would want a rifle that fires the .223 cartridge. It is heavy enough to kill a man but yet light enough to be used in a hand held automatic weapon. I guess it might be used as a varmint gun but I think the .243 is a much better cartridge for that. The .223 is too light for even fairly small game like deer so it is very limited in sporting use. A varmint hunter is lucky to get one good shot at his target so a repeating rifle won't do any good and a good bolt or lever action rifle will likely be more accurate for that one shot.

I don't see any valid reason to own a Bushmaster/AR15 rifle. And I really don't think the tip of the iceberg argument is a big concern.

Diane Widler Wenzel said...

I think ownership of AR15 is about target shooting. I have seen on TV a disguisting demonstration of how some teenage girls got a thrill at shooting pop filled plastic bottles. It is meerly a toy and a toy with horrid capability. Should be banned as adangerous toy.

Diane Widler Wenzel said...

When teaching youth responsible gun ownership, shooting AR15 for thrills is apt to interfere with the important lessons of gun safty and responsibility.

Hattie said...

Gun culture pervades this country. You have written the definitive piece on the subject. Convincing dedicated gun owners to get rid of their weapons may not be possible. This opens up a gulf between people like me who would never own a gun and people like you who think of guns as a necessity.
In my situation, which does not involve shooting animals, I see no purpose for a gun. Personal ownership of a gun would imply that I don't trust law authorities or my neighbors. I understand that many feel that way. I just feel safer without weapons around.

Ingineer66 said...

Dick, target shooters and plinkers like the .223 because the bullets are cheap and they used to be east to find in the stores. Other than varmits, I do not think many people use them to hunt.

Ingineer66 said...

I find it interesting how people use different logic to address the issues. We have established that you cannot stop kids from having sex, so we have to pass out condoms in the junior high and high schools. We cannot stop people from using illegal narcotics so we have to pass out clean needles for them to use.

But if we ban high capacity magazines or certain types of firearms, we are magically going to stop shootings.

It makes no sense. We should be enforcing the laws that we have on the books and punishing criminals and treating the mentally ill. Much of the same crowd that wants to take guns away from law abiding citizens that have never shot anybody, is the same crowd that thinks we should be softer on criminals.

Ingineer66 said...

Whoops, east = easy in my first comment.

Dick, I don't see a valid reason for you to drive a convertible. They get worse mileage and they are unsafe in a rollover. They are hot in the summer and cold in the winter. They should be banned.

Just because you don't like AR's doesn't mean they should be banned.

Most people are personally not in favor of abortion as a method of birth control. But there are very few people in this country that actually want to see them made illegal.

Rain Trueax said...

Hattie, the difference between you and me is even more that I would not try to convince you to get a gun but you would like to ban my ownership of one.

While you may 'think' I don't need one or more than one, I 'know' that I do. Living in town you have police nearby or you assume they would be. I know that at over 20 miles from any town, and with limited police forces due to tax measures constantly voted down, if someone was breaking into my house, there would be no instant response from authorities. I also 'know' that the coyotes that kill our lambs will not respond to telling them it's not nice. We over $3000 into re-fencing our sheep property as way to avoid having to kill predators that are just doing their thing, but it won't stop it all. We could not raise livestock if we were not willing to be responsible and sometimes that means shooting a coyote that can jump a 5' fence. Cougar easily can access it, likewise bears. We can only make it harder but we cannot stop it.

If someone is a vegetarian, then they probably think we should not be raising them anyway. Why should our livestock even have a right to live would be the PETA response. My reason is I like to care for them, share my land with them, eat them, others like to eat them and we can give them a good life right to the end when they they help others feed their families. It's life and life has death attached... except for those who want to think that's not how all meat is gotten. And even eating a carrot is eating a living thing.

I get it that there are those who disagree and want all guns taken, I hope they realize not all will ever be turned in-- laws or not. And those that won't are the most likely ones to engage in a home invasion (those things don't just happen to 'somebody else'). We don't get warnings about them. It's the wrong person seeing us in town or just random. With police a few minutes away, it might be close enough. Sometimes it hasn't been.

Hattie said...

Rain: I argued this issue with my husband, and he took your side, making the same points you do about living in a remote place and needing to protect livestock.
What worries me is the go it alone mentality and deep suspicion of others that underlies gun ownership. Why the need for cheap handguns and hidden carry permits, for instance? Who needs an arsenal locked away in a closet?

Diane Widler Wenzel said...

Going it alone mind set with a suspicion of others is a relevant issue worth examining. There is a fine difference between selfsufficiency and paranoid syndrome.

Rain Trueax said...

I don't think country folk have a go-it-alone or distrusting mentality any more frequently than city folk. I've let strangers into my home to use a phone because I live on a long country road with not a lot of places for help if you are in trouble. My husband has gone to a neighbors because she got scared of a weird acting, cursing at her children stranger standing in her driveway, and her husband was gone. She was terrified. The problem is we have 2 on-duty state police officers to patrol several counties and hundreds of square miles. You can't grasp what that means if you don't live that far from some kind of official help-- which might get there fast (that time the officer got there not long after my husband as he'd been in the area on another call). Actually I've had a few scary experiences in towns too but didn't pull my gun (which I don't have with me anyway-- too heavy for my purse).

Go into the middle of the wilderness and find a stranger in your camp who just looks at you, and tell me what you'd do. Cougar tracks or you know it's watching you but you can't see it, bear barking at you when you walk where few people do and what's your idea of protection? How about knowing drug dealers live nearby but nobody can prove it-- yet? Rural living simply isn't like city; and if we truly were with no neighbors, sometimes it might be safer. I think of several murders not that far from me.

The issue is you are scared of what you don't know and people you don't know. You can't imagine someone practical wanting a gun nearby. You are creating a bad guy redneck as who that would have to be but it's not. It's just average people who live with some level of danger just by the livestock they raise, the farm equipment they use. It's the reality and maybe not as true for feedlots but then you live with the danger of the meat you get being raised on hormones and antibiotics. Grassfed has risk attached which country folk accept.

You won't get all guns anyway; so your fear of them doesn't worry me at all. What worries me is you will try to go for it all, your words will be used by those who fear and all or nothing mentality-- and you will get nothing. It's going to be hard enough to get an assault rifle and extended magazine ban but those who want all guns gone are likely to not get anything by talking this way. I say save your fears for after we get the assault rifle ban.

I think I mentioned when I had a friend as a house guest who was terrified of guns, I kept them locked up in the gun safe. I have understanding for those who are scared of them. Guns make me uneasy too-- whenever I am around someone who uses them carelessly. It's not likely to be a rancher who knows the risks of his/her tools.

Hattie said...

The Big Island is a rough place. So country folk vs. City slickers does not quite explain the situation. What we don't have is a lot of people packing heat. We have dealt with some mighty scary people, too. I should get some stats out to show how low our murder rate is, surprising in an area where there are so many poor and marginal people.

Diane Widler Wenzel said...

Another school shooting today around Austin, Texas. I wonder if the continuous coverage from these events, is another cause of copy-cat occurances. I wish the networks would stop regurgitating especially when the facts are not released yet.

Rain Trueax said...

Hattie, you and I will just have to agree to disagree. Maybe Hawaii, despite the poverty you mention, has an atmosphere that leads to less violent attacks. Out where I live knife fights aren't that unusual; so it might be just how it is.

I have a blog set for Saturday on can't we all just get along? With my answer-- no we can't. Sometimes we want or live diametrically opposed lives. Some of our values are contradictory. I wrote it before this conversation where clearly we will never agree on what are solid values or what should be done. In Hawaii, you guys might be able to ban all guns. It's a small state. Good luck on it. It's not happening in the rest of the country-- that I'd bet on. And getting rid of concealed weapon permits, until you can show me where those having such are committing crimes, I think you're just wasting the energy that might be put into something that likely isn't going to happen either given the mood in the country-- ban on assault and semi-assault rifles, stricter background checks, ban on extended magazines. More real help for the mentally ill would be good but the boy who just killed his parents and siblings doesn't sound mentally ill-- he sounds heartless and pathological. Not sure what we can do about that with more and more who simply cannot get how others feel or live and it's all about them.

Hattie said...

I was talking just now to a friend who lives out in Long Beach, Washington. She says there has been a spike in robberies where she is, including home invasions where people are at home. In her place I would get a dog but not a gun. Our German shepherds always kept us safe. Our renter has a big dog that barks whenever anyone comes on our property, and even our little dog was noisy enough to make visitors wary.
My friend and I agreed that we refuse to live defensively and in fear of our fellow humans beyond taking reasonable precautions.

Rain Trueax said...

Well to me a gun is as reasonable precaution as getting a big dog-- more so if the owner doesn't know how to train it well. Dogs are living beings that require good care and responsible ownership.

In the country we are again facing a family who moved out here, have a pit bull that they are letting run too often which is requiring us giving them a warning. It recently came down to growl at my husband while he was out getting our mail-- it had come down the road to our gate. If that dog ends up jumping our fences and chasing or killing sheep, this will turn even uglier.

A dog can be just as irresponsible choice as a gun in the wrong hands. The one dog that lost us sheep, caused some calls to the sheriff, and finally for it to be passed on, bit a small child, got passed on again and eventually killed a child. Big dogs are big animals and not a guarantee of anything.

One thing about a gun-- it is in your own responsible hands. A dog is separate from you and you can try to train it well but reality is it has its own thinking and they have killed people also-- not just children.

People who fear guns should not have them. Those who won't take the time to learn to use them responsibly should not have them. Reasonable regulations could assure that-- at least for those who care about obeying laws. The argument here though that I should not have a gun because you fear them just doesn't hold water with me. I don't think it does with most Americans either.

The sad part is the slippery slope thinking that is being reinforced by people like you, Hattie, is likely going to mean no assault rifle ban either which is a darned shame. Slippery slope thinking works against a lot of reasonable choices

Anne said...

I'm glad we agree on the proposals now before the congress and the public. I read your post with great interest. And also the exchanges between you and Hattie. I guess I am somewhere between you and Hattie. Jerry and I have a gun, actually he has several, and we always take one with us when we walk in the woods in Alaska. I am scared of bears. But I would never take one with us when we go to public places or travel in the car.

Ingineer66 said...

Hattie, You live on the Big Island? I love it there. What part do you live in?

As for that a guy the size of a 330 pound Samoan is exactly the reason that I have jacketed hollow points for my .357.

I know there may not be a lot of murders there, but the meth heads are getting worse. And a couple them beat a person to death down at Ho'Okena and the police didn't show up until the next day to take the report.

Rain Trueax said...

Anne, we only take a gun with us when we are traveling areas where there won't be many people. Traveling long distances we do also (but in a suitcase) but mostly to have it when we get somewhere that is less populated-- or not populated. I don't carry one into cities either. The chances of having problems with misusing it seem too great. If I had to be in more dangerous parts of big cities, I'd carry one of my little pepper sprays. Mostly where I am and the hours where I'd be there, I don't carry that either.