My Turn: Legitimate reasons to own and use guns

Posted: Friday, March 08, 2002

This responds to Don Adams' letter of Feb. 24, contending there is no reason to own a gun because we are a "city-oriented" rather than an agricultural society and for other reasons. Adams' is a narrow view; he mixes several "gun issues" irrelevantly, and displays considerable ignorance and gross misunderstanding.

I wholeheartedly agree that public ownership of machine guns, bazookas and the like is not necessary and, for the most part, illegal. Despite my membership, I do not agree entirely with all National Rifle Association positions, or 100 percent with most other organizations to which I belong. NRA information, however, is not universally "misdirected propaganda." The NRA is, contrary to Adams, on the same "side of the fence" as he, for "life, safety, and common decency and respect for others." Volumes of misinformation emanate from anti-gun interests. Deliberate omission or distortion of positive gun facts and information by mostly liberal print and electronic news media is common. A small example is the lack of news coverage of American shooters' successes, particularly in summer Olympics, not to mention refusal to objectively report crime trends and study results documenting the incidence of successful personal protection efforts attributable to gun possession.

Guns are not in themselves "lethal" and do not themselves kill; neither do pencils write.

I am and have long been of necessity "city-oriented." Urbanization of society is irrelevant to gun ownership and use. My guns have more sentimental than monetary value. I enjoy and use some of them weekly, no different than most gun owners. Reasons for owning them vary. None are to "massage the male ego."

None of my firearms are "weapons," although any of them could be. The word "weapon" is an appropriate generic military and law enforcement term. Otherwise, the term "firearm" applies correctly to most publicly owned guns.

Thousands of people enjoy a variety of shooting sports. Happily, the number grows annually and includes many women taking up sports in which they compete successfully with men, regardless of size, height, weight, strength, speed or looks. Most gun use in this country involves no killing. While many gun owners hunt, a legitimate and wholesome use, there may be as many or more who do not. Gun ownership and use, therefore, is not equivalent to killing, one of the many facts anti-gun and gun control advocates downplay or totally ignore.

Everyone is responsible for their own and loved ones' protection from the simplest act of crossing a street to life and property threats from evil people. Police cannot entirely assume responsibility to protect everyone at all times. While none of my personal firearms are primarily for protection, I experienced the need to be prepared to protect my wife, our child and myself from threatened harm. It was in a city several times larger than Juneau with at least as fine a police force. The very real threat was a few feet away; the police arrived promptly 45 minutes after being called, plenty of time to carry out the threat against an unarmed victim. My firearm was temporarily a weapon and could be again.

I suggest you look around at the many legitimate reasons for gun ownership and use. Urban, rural, industrial, agricultural are entirely immaterial.

As for shooting the letter writer, the mentioned Stalinists and Nazis might have and would have enjoyed knowing you were among the unarmed city and rural citizens of Estonia and other European countries they entered and occupied without resistance. First there was registration, then confiscation by a trusted and protective government, then complete oppression. Unfortunately, people are dying out who experienced these things and, as with the Holocaust, ignorance and disbelief increase.

Hitting a hurtling clay target is more challenging than any two or four-legged ones and you're welcome to join the fun at either of two locations on Montana Creek Road, depending upon your preference for either still or moving targets. Should you decide to try them, friendly devotees to nonviolent shooting sports will happily loan what you need and introduce you to them. Eventually, you'll want your own equipment; it's a right, and unless you have a record to prevent it, all you need is to be a United States citizen.

Meantime, as you exercise the First Amendment, practice the respect you espouse and apply it to those of us who choose to exercise the Second Amendment.

Wayne R. Nicholls is a member and past president of the Juneau Gun Club.

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