Roy Exum: ‘Responsible’ Guns
Only hours before I took a class in order to carry a concealed handgun on Sunday, a man walked into the First Baptist Church of a St. Louis suburb and fatally shot the pastor with a 45-caliber pistol. This was on the same day that a man named Anthony Carter was shot in Chattanooga at the Emma Wheeler Homes and on the very same afternoon that LaTonya Stoudemire was critically stabbed on the city’s Heaton Street.
As I studied the others who were taking the firearms class yesterday, it did not appear that a soul among them would shoot a minister, gun down anyone at the Emma Wheeler Homes or viciously slash a woman on Heaton Street with a razor.
The fact that we do not know why any of these three horrors occurred was precisely why people all across America are flocking to gun stores and arming themselves in an unprecedented effort of self defense.
Despite the fact the economy is now at its worst since World War II, gun sales are so brisk that handguns are increasingly hard to find. Those who are taking classes in order to carry a weapon, to rightfully do so as prescribed by law, are having to make reservations as far as six weeks in advance and are willing to pay approximately $200, once you include the cost of the class ($75) with licensing fees ($115).
But the most unbelievable part of the whole scenario is best reflected in the census of those who are getting licensed. People who you would have never dreamed would be carrying a weapon are now seeking such a permit – not out of fear, not at all, but to assure their safety.
Doctors and lawyers and housewives and other law-abiding citizens are learning that the two biggest reasons for firearms accidents are ignorance and carelessness. They are also learning to never put your finger on the trigger unless you are ready to shoot and how to tell a police officer, if approached, “Officer, I am carrying a firearm.”
Since I wrote several weeks ago that I am now among those who have decided to carry a weapon, I have been amazed at the number of people I know who tell me they have done the same thing. I am convinced the majority of these people would never use a weapon unless there was a genuine threat of bodily harm.
But the better revelation came Sunday when Mark Haskins, a veteran of the Chattanooga Police Department who is also a member of its SWAT team, taught a safety class at Carl Poston’s Sportmans store on Hixson Pike that I wish every anti-gun activist could attend. If that sounds strange go back to my line about “ignorance and carelessness” because many of the anti-gun crowd suffer horribly from the same afflictions.
In my class yesterday was a woman who had not fired a pistol in over 30 years, not since her Dad taught her how to do so as a teenager. As I laughed, it dawned on me that it has also been years since I shot a handgun, but this time the rules were far more strict than when we boys would once go shooting in the woods years ago.
In the class to become licensed, you are taught from the very beginning that the use of a firearm is absolutely the last resort. A firearm doesn’t give you the right to shoot anyone. It is not a toy. If you see two people fighting, a gun doesn’t give you a “badge” to break it up.
No, the class instead is one of the most informative, enlightening experiences you can imagine and is more about how to properly use a handgun rather than about how to get licensed. It is also about the enormous responsibility that goes with owning a weapon.
Not long ago the country’s new Attorney General, Eric Holder, called for re-instituting a ban on certain firearms due to the Mexican drug wars. It hasn’t dawned on this man that guns are little more than tools and, if outlawed, the Mexican cartels will, in fact, have better access because more will be available.
People in drug cartels don’t apply for “concealed carry” permits. They don’t follow the state and federal rules and laws that almost 100 million American gun owners do. Again, a gun is a little more than a tool, but if it gets in the hands of a violent person, it sadly becomes an extension of that person.
For that matter, it is a good bet that the guns that were used for violence yesterday, whether at the Illinois church or at the Emma Wheeler Homes, were not used by people who carry them for self-protection.
It is also a good bet LaTonya Stoudemire, now in critical condition after being slashed with a razor on Sunday, desperately wishes she would have had one.
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