When I look back, 2015 seems like a year when guns were always a part of the news. As I look ahead, I pray guns don’t make big news in Platte County. I am part of troubled average Americans when it comes to firearms. Many people are all for or all against guns. They have an easier intellectual time than the rest of us who are searching for sensible middle ground that keeps a basic freedom but enhances public safety.
Last week on the radio news, I heard that bills are floating around the state legislature making guns on college campuses’ more legal and creating a tax holiday for the purchase of firearms.
This to me is madness.
I like the tax holiday that occurs each summer so families can purchase school supplies. I do not like tax breaks that are supposedly designed to make people feel safer, but they seem mostly adept at boosting profits in the firearms industry.
I do not like guns being more common around students, teachers, professors and school staff.
I know my point of view will make some people angry. Perhaps I will be labeled anti-gun. I am not. My father taught me how to be safe around guns and how to hunt when I was a young lad.
I’ve hunted with shotguns and sometimes .22 rifles ever since. Target shooting is fun; I’ve enjoyed it and recognize the skills provided.
Most of my guns I’ve owned a long time.
Now and then one is added to the gun safe. I have an inherited handgun that I’m looking forward to finding the time to safely use for target shooting.
Firearms often have ties to fascinating history. They are engineering accomplishments, some rather wondrous.
Many guns are works of art in wood and metal. I support the right of citizens to keep and bear arms.
However, I’m troubled by the proliferation of modern firearms designed specifically to kill people and promotions people make that more tactical weaponry in the hands of the general population benefits society.
Cautions and common sense seem to be missing. The realization of the facts and effects of deadly force, and the variables of human personality, seem to be absent from rhetoric.
I am equally troubled by movies, television and video games glorifying gun violence, and I recognize they’re part of the problem. Yet even when the cowboys and Indians were shooting each other in the movies of my youth, I knew such a thing would not be good in real life.
That line seems to be gone.
In Platte County, I find myself worried about law enforcement officers and what they might face in the future. They’ve always had to be brave to do the job. But never before have they faced such potential firepower in the hands of a rogue human being, whether during a car stop or responding to a call at a home.
I know no new government rule is going to end gun violence. Capable, competent citizens should be able to own and enjoy firearms.
But an attitude that more guns everywhere is better for everyone is not the direction to go, either.
Gun issues in American politics are not going to be resolved in 2016. Yet I’m wishing for signs that we’re not becoming hopelessly numb to the heartbreaking toll gun violence takes on human beings.
Bill Graham, who lives in the Platte City area, may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.