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I grew up around guns

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I grew up around guns. All my life they played some sort of role. I learned to shoot very early, first with a BB gun. We would run around the property, set up targets, and shoot them. We would try to get the occasional bird or animal, too, but the BB gun was no match for them. We used to set up a shooting station and launch clay pigeons. I would watch my father and my uncles practice with shotguns for hunting season.

The noise was loud, percussive and painful, yet I loved it. I was proud to be allowed to touch a weapon and prouder still when I was old enough for the big guns. The recoil from a .410 shotgun bruised my young shoulder. I must have been 10 or so. Then there were the pistols we fired at targets and cans. I was taught to respect their power and destructive capability.

Ours was a house with loaded weapons in nightstands, guns on a wooden rack in my father’s office, and ammunition in a closet close by. Nothing under lock and key. My grandfather slept with a loaded pistol between box spring and mattress. “What is the point if it isn’t loaded,” he’d say.

I thought guns were cool. I hunted for pheasant, duck, deer, and rabbit in the woods and fields. I have fired many weapons over the years. I did not serve in the military or become a police officer, but I was trained in the use of firearms by my elders. Despite that training, one day I took a gun and posed in front of a mirror, like a detective on a mission. I pulled the trigger. The gun was loaded. I should have known better. I destroyed the mirror and put a bullet in the wall of my grandparents’ house while they were away. I confessed to my parents and was appropriately punished. No one was hurt. I was 13.

The Second Amendment 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.” This was a compromise between members of our new government who wanted a standing army after winning the revolution, and those who felt it unnecessary.

In the landmark case Heller v District of Columbia, and the subsequent McDonald v Chicago, the Supreme Court told us the Second Amendment gives us the right to own guns. But Heller’s decision says this is not an unlimited right. Jurisdictions can limit the types of weapons owned.

Suicide accounts for the largest number of gun deaths – 23,000 in 2017 alone. Mass shootings account for a much smaller number. But what would that number be if we had fewer guns readily available? American civilians are estimated to own more than 393 million. No other country comes close.

Among those 393 million, as many as 3 million meet some definition of assault weapons, guns that are derivative of their military granddaddies. Guns with one application and purpose: to take out as many targets as possible, as quickly as possible. I’m hardly the first person to ask why civilians need to own them. In the hands of trained soldiers, these weapons are tools. In the hands of an Adam Lanza, the Newtown shooter, and other mass killers, they do the job quickly, regardless of the proficiency or training of the individual pulling the trigger.

Ours is a nation born of guns. Without them, we may not have gained independence. They remain a part of our national makeup; to suggest otherwise is naïve. But limiting their availability and making ownership more responsible is a duty left to us by the Founding Fathers. To that end, background checks, gun safety requirements, assault weapons
bans, and the closure of loophole sales are among the simple, common sense measures we can and should take to make America — and Americans — safer.

I can’t own a working M1A Tank. I can’t buy a surplus F-14 with full weapons systems, either, so why should I be allowed to buy a weapon designed to kill in military applications? I still think guns are compelling. But I now know that with ownership comes responsibility – to lock up, limit, and safeguard something with the so much power to destroy, not only
mirrors, but lives.

David Heuvelman

Norwalk

8 comments

Jim Hovater September 1, 2019 at 4:15 pm

Actually, you CAN own a workg tank and military jet.

I’m a teacher, former LEO, dad, and granddad. There are several ARs, home defense shotguns, and handguns in our house. Most are loaded. Oh, yeah…every adult member of our family has a valid CCW. We carry on a daily basis. We don’t break laws, we respect others, and we expect the same. However, we DON’T expect others to protect us. We know better. LEAVE OUR RIGHTS ALONE.

Al September 1, 2019 at 7:12 pm

Weapons issued to the military are usually semi/full automatic and what you can buy at the store are semiautomatic only. Yes you can get a full automatic weapon with the correct license and background check but the expense for the average shooter is prohibitive.

Michael Simmons September 1, 2019 at 11:17 pm

After reading your article, which parroted numerous others almost verbatim, “I grew up around guns”, or I own guns , or I’m not against guns. Bullshit. If you actually want to be factual, then please acknowledge that an AR15 is not an assault rifle. An assault rifle is fully automatic. A semi-automatic rifle fires one bullet per trigger pull. The same as a Glock handgun. The AR designation is named for the originating company Armalite. All rifles fire one round per trigger pull the same as all pistols and revolvers. There are as you said perhaps 3 million AR rifles and millions more lever action and bolt action rifles in private hands. Each fires one shot at a time. Taking my gun away will not make you safer. Only law abiding gun owners obey gun laws. Nut jobs and criminals don’t.

John September 2, 2019 at 1:52 am

Less than 1% of crimes are committed with semi-automatic long guns. The way to go is to enforce existing laws and add one database and 2 questions to the existing NCIS system.
?’s are 1 are you now a person who has been or is under that care of a psychologist or psychiatrist for a mental health disorder? 2. Are you ow taking any anti-anxiety or anti-psychotic drug? Couple this with a mental health database and you can keep the guns out of the hands of mentally ill. But hey why not make legal people with legally purchased firearms criminals.

John Levin September 2, 2019 at 3:55 am

I agree with Mr. Heuvelman. I qualified Expert with my M-16 at MCRD San Diego in 1976 when I was 17 years old. I knew then what an effective killing machine this weapon was, and I knew it existed, and was issued to me, for exactly that purpose and that it had no other purpose except very occasionally as a parade ornament.

I see absolutely no reason for these weapons ever to be in the hands of anyone who is not active military or law enforcement. The mythologies that civilians having them somehow protects our democratic republic from tyranny, or are needed for hunting animals, or are a right under the constitution all are beyond absurd. The Heller decision was a clear mistake on the part of our Supreme Court, in the same category as Dred Scott, Citizens United, or Burwell v Hobby Lobby. All of these will be fixed over time, either by congressional action, constitutional amendment, or by a future court overturning these decisions. Sadly, enormous suffering and death will continue until that happens.

Dan Gore September 3, 2019 at 1:28 pm

Arms,back then,included cannons.The argument that the founders didn’t foresee modern weapons is absurd. Use the same “talking points “for the first amendment, only “free speech “is spoken, hand written, or hand operated printing presses. Sounds pretty absurd when you look at it that way, doesn’t it?If you are going to use 17th?century Technology for arms,then it has to be used for all of the Constitution!As for “assault weapons “,the Stg44,is the only true assault rifle. STG,(sturmgaver?means storm/assault. Also, “well regulated malita”,back when the 2nd amendment was written,ment well equipped. All National Guard members are not the “malita”,they were congressionally authorized 100+years after the Constitution was ratified. So yes,semi automatic modern sporting rifles, are protected by the 2nd amendment. Approximately 300,000,000+constitutionally protected firearms in the United States. If this upsets the LEFTIST, ducks to be you. LEFTIST,S won’t do the dirty work of disarming America, they will send others. If they truly believe in their cause, they will do the job themselves.

Kara B. September 14, 2019 at 12:39 pm

Thank you for making the obvious points that you do here. Universal background checks are low hanging fruit, a no-brainer, that over 90% of Americans agree we desperately need. Yet – Mitch McConnell and the rest of the GOP holds HR 8 hostage, allowing for the continued carnage – 100+ deaths a day.

Here’s an idea for all of the 2A fans: as per the actual language of the amendment, if you are so inclined to your own personal arsenal, become part of the prescribed “well regulated militia. Enlist in the US Army Reserves. Serve your country the way the amendment intended.

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