Friday, June 20, 2008

Guns in America

The anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy's assassination earlier this month brought forth a lot of remembrances from people who knew RFK, people who were at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles the night Sirhan Sirhan pumped three .22 caliber bullets into the Senator at close range.

The most compelling and poignant interview I heard was with Pete Hamill, a writer whom I admire deeply. He noted that in America, a disturbed man with a grievance can always get a gun with which to take out his anger on a human target.

That got my attention. See, I was out shooting while I listened to the interview on OPB.

I've been an avid shooter since I was about 10 years old. There were no guns in my household; it wasn't something I learned from my dad. I was drawn to firearms all on my own, partly from an interest in history and partly from the sheer enjoyment of the art and skill of shooting well.

I've worked in the firearms industry. Now, I shoot probably three or four times a week — mostly small-caliber rifle and clays with a shotgun. I do a little bird hunting, but I'm more a shooter than a hunter. I have a couple of revolvers and shoot them well, but they play a distant third fiddle to the rifle and shotgun.

The shooting sports have brought me hours of enjoyment — enjoyment that I am now sharing with my nine-year-old daughter who is turning out to be a fine shot with both a rifle and a bow.

Firearms have also brought me a modicum of protection. I have been in two armed confrontations with dangerous men, both of which ended without shots being fired. I was glad to have been armed.

And yet...

And yet...

Hamill is right. We've seen it in political assassinations, we've seen it in school shootings, we've seen it in rampages at the mall. A madman can always get a gun with which to enact his madness.

I support the Second Amendment and believe in the individual right to keep and bear arms. But we've got to do a better job of restricting access of those who are menaces to the innocent.

I'm going to buy a new rifle next week. It'll be an easy process. Maybe it's too easy.

Jim Cornelius, Editor


  1. Quite the conundrum...a gun toting lib.

    There are no laws that can be written that will solve problems such as assassinations, school shootings and/or mall rampages. But read the book, "More Guns, Less Crime" and it makes a very good case for arming more of our citizens.

  2. Read it and agree with the premise with a couple of qualifications. When I was working in the gun biz, any, many people decided they needed guns after the LA Rodney King Riots. Almost none of them were receptive to taking any kind of training.

    Some people were so egregiously and obviously incompetent that we turned sales down. But somebody surely sold them a gun.

    The idea that no laws can solve problems like mall/school shootings is a bit of a canard. I agree that laws can't eliminate them, but it is certainly possible to make them less likely.

    You can't eliminate drunk driving, but you can't argue that it has not been reduced.

    I find it unacceptable that firearms owners shrug these kinds of episodes off as sad but inevitable. Beyond the wrenching tragedy, the non-gun-toting libs feed off of such episodes; they tar the entire gun culture.

    I think it is our duty and obligation as responsible, law-abiding gun owners to combat abuse of firearms by criminals and the criminally insane — before these fact as well as after the fact.

    Do I think an armed citizenry could put a stop to a rampage like VA. Tech? Yes. But that should be the gravest extreme. It would have been infinitely better if Cho had not so readily been able to arm himself and act out his murderous fantasies in the first place.