By Mark Reese
America has been torn apart by gun violence again. It has become an all too apparent scenario. In many ways much of our society has become tolerant of it, as we have seen it so many times. But we have not seen it up close and personal. For most of us it has happened to someone else just as other natural disasters such as Hurricane Harvey, Irma, Jose, Maria and others. Or just as disastrous as the earthquake in Mexico. If it happens to others far removed from our little world then it is easy to forget or not take it seriously.
Our nation was founded by hunters and trappers and the initial need to make our living off the land. The Native American Indian, the original beings of our country, certainly made their living by hunting, gathering, and fishing. Without these abilities they would not have survived.
But in today’s climate of guns I just don’t know anymore. My generation is probably the last this country will know that was brought up learning how to fish, how to hunt, how to shoot a gun. As a youngster many trips were made to the field with no gun in hand, only the opportunity to follow those adults who hunted with guns ahead of me. Before I was allowed to hunt with a gun the first time, I had to be able to take the gun apart, understand what each piece was to do, and be able to put it together again. The excitement of owning my first shotgun was also a Christmas memory that will be forever etched in my mind. My first hunt was for squirrels and the issue of safety was paramount.
My memories of that first squirrel harvested with a gun still remain with me. The excitement of the hunt was also shadowed by the thought that by my hands a death had occurred. My first rabbit taken was not a clean kill and having to finish the job is also a scene that stays with me.
Above all this, I still love to hunt. Life and death is a part of the natural world. Most of us still like beef or hamburger from fast food outlets, even pepperoni on our pizza. The taking of a life in all these instances is a conscious decision, but it is one that must not be taken lightly. Death is not something that just appears on a video screen. It is forever.
In today’s world, most are far-removed from the farm, and the life and death struggles faced by producers of livestock are not experienced. The days of gatherings to slaughter hogs and process the winter meat are long gone. Most people have never experienced a hunt or held a fishing pole in their hands.
And even though these things are gone, our gun culture has exploded. When you walk into a gun store today you don’t see the beautiful stocks of shotguns for the hunt or rifles such as the 30.06 which was a standard for deer hunting many years ago. The .22 rifle which was used for plinking and taking squirrels, if you were a good shot, take back stage. Now you see rows and rows of pistols capable of firing many rounds and assault rifles that were born of military encounters.
When our forefathers drafted the second Amendment, I do not believe this is what they had in mind.
We are probably too far down the road to get a grip on today’s gun culture. I personally do not see the need for the type of weapons we are turning out today. The carnage they have created is surreal. An old National Rifle Association phrase that I remember comes to mind.
“To ride, shoot straight, and speak the truth.
That was the ancient law of youth
Old times are past, Old days are done
But the law holds true, O little son.”
We have a responsibility to teach our young people that life and death are real. It is not a game. Old times are past, but the need for everyone to learn what guns are intended for is sorely needed in this country.
It is not how many rounds you can squeeze out of your gun in a second that matters. That is the truth, O little son.