Published 11-16-1997 by Kathleen LaFrance in the Casper Star TRIBUNE:
Tucker et al: Please remember this was written before I knew any of you and that it is MY opinion, only. You are free to believe and think what you want, of course. And, while I would write this in a different manner, now, it still says essentially what I wanted to:
Lack of Respect for Guns Lethal
I'm a Western woman, born and bred. For the life of me, I'm in despair. The lack of respect for the lethal power of guns and the zealots' desire to arm one and all have contributed to my becoming a pacifist.
My dad worked in the oilfields and was raised on a ranch in Colorado. He always had a 'six-shooter" in a holster behind the seat of his pickup. Coming in late from a rig, and earlier in his life, when herding cattle through scrub oak and greasewood, he never knew when he might have to put an animal down because of injuries.
He grew up with a healthy respect for guns, Their main purpose was to kill for protection or compassion for an animal in pain. Guns were never used to hunt. He didn't believe in it.
I remember target shooting at five years old. I knew how to load both the six-shooter and the single shot twenty-two rifle. I'd bring my arm up slowly, then down, with my left eye closed, "drawing a bead" then, aim for the center, while gently squeezing the trigger. By the time I was eight, I believed I was a 'deadeye,' a regular Annie Oakley, after hitting the center of a paper plate from maybe 10 feet away.
Dad dazzled us with the feats of a sharpshooter: shooting tin cans flung high above us in the dazzling mountain sky; piercing pennies, dead-center, positioned on a log like prisoners awaiting execution.
We were all taught these basics: 1. Never point a gun unless you mean to use it, not even a toy gun. 2. Never walk carelessly around with a loaded gun. 3. When a gun is loaded, keep the safety on, the point down, make sure everyone is out of range. 4. Shoot into the side of a hill for a target.
With his gruff voice, one stern reprimand was enough from Dad. We'd never forget the rules of safety and respect. It seemed a straightforward, plain and simple 'code' to live by, passed from generation to generation.
In the Old West, use of 'guns as problem-solvers' didn't fit in with the gentrification of even one-horse, one-street, dusty old towns. Often, one was required to check one's weaponry in at the local sheriff's office for the duration of a visit. Lead-bullet settling of sheep and cattle differences were left to the far-flung corners of the range.
As the Old West tamed down, even though guns continued to be a part of daily life, 'shoot'em up townies' were generally relegated to the celluloid of Hollywood.
Today, most children, young adults and many grown-ups do not have any respect for or comprehension of the absolute finality a gun can bring to a person's life. Many seem to lack even a shred of compassion and seem to have become inured to the injury and destruction a "lethal weapon" can cause.
So, we have children killing children. Often, there is no time or training, for the thought processes which might call a halt to this lethal resolution of a problem. When it's too late, children find the real power of a gun is not intimidation, but actual death or maiming for life. Which brings us back to a lack of respect for the power of guns and life.
When my dad, in the '60s, said they'd never get his gun, registered or not,I agreed. The government had no reason, unless we were criminals, in coming for our firepower. Then, about the only weapons anybody had were handguns, rifles and shotguns.
Today, with the techno-perversions we've seen developed to the point of rapid-fire, multiple-deaths-from-rage in a few minutes, I can longer support this belief. With the complete lack of training and understanding of the deadliness of guns, we cannot continue to support a wide open policy of gun ownership.
Maybe it's time to return to the "check your gun at the town line" policy, at least for assault/semi-automatic weapons.
Owning a gun, even arming children, has become almost a religion, and is a prominent political issue. Extremists' paranoia knows no bounds when dealing with mythical government agents.
The perception seems to be if we aren't armed, we can't protect ourselves from the 'New World Order.' In a militiaman's nightmare of government run rampant, those of us who are not prepared will most likely face annihilation or be marched quickstep into the bowels of some amorphous prison, only to return as automatons, ready and willing to perpetuate the socialistic agenda of a government gone AWOL.
It is part of the perversion of our world that we no longer have to "see the whites of their eyes" when on a murderous spree during a rampage or war.
While we cannot go back to the good ole' days, it would be to our benefit to consider other choices to the all out paranoia-with-violence we see today.
There must be reasonable alternatives tot the rhetoric of divisiveness and advocacy of violence which dominates our daily news. Guns are made for one purpose only, to kill. With each century, each decade, each year, each generation, humankind is supposed to be a step higher on the evolutionary ladder. These days it seems we've missed a step.
copyright 1997 OoBraughLoo Press