Friday, October 23, 2015

Can We Have a Conversation About Guns?

Now, people, I want you to know that I have no idea where this is going.

I want you to understand that I'm pretty sure I have more questions than answers on this topic.

I am writing this to be a part of a conversation. Not a witch hunt.

But, people, we need to talk. We need to talk about guns, gun ownership, and gun violence. It's a conversation that needs to start now and keep going indefinitely.

Here's where I'll start: My mom's family mostly lives in Alaska. We are Native American. There is a heritage of hunting in my family. My grandmother, grandfather, aunts, and uncles, and cousins grew up/have grown up with hunting and fishing as a way of life. As a way to provide food for the family. I grew up eating Alaskan salmon and didn't know it was a delicacy until I moved out and had to buy it myself, as opposed to the big boxes my grandfather and uncles used to send us with their catch inside.

My husband comes from a hunting family, too. He's been hunting since he was a kid. Some years are more successful than others, but if he gets a deer, our family gets venison. We don't depend on it, but we do respect the animals enough to eat what has been hunted.

Hunting, fishing, and gardening are a part of my culture and a part of my life. People in my family have been directly providing food for themselves in many different ways for many different years. That means that in my home and the homes of people I love, there are implements of those passions: shovels and hoes, rods and reels, and yes, guns.

There are guns in my house. There are hunting rifles and shotguns. There are also fishing rods, shovels, and hoes.

My fishing rods are stored with no hooks on them. That would be unsafe. Having hooks around where just anyone who walks by could stick themselves. We keep the hooks separate from the rods, in a tackle box. The rods are leaned up against a wall, or on a shelf (depending on whether they are adult sized or kid-sized). That way they won't poke anyone in the eye.

The shovels and hoes are actually nicely organized on a hanging rack on the wall in the garage. They used to be tossed in a trash can, but they got all jumbled up and we found a better way to store them.

At this point, I'm sure you are wondering why I am telling you this. Surely no one cares about where and how we store the fishing rods and gardening equipment! Why am I wasting your time? What you really want to know is about the guns, right?

They are also stored responsibly. We may not be the best housekeepers on the planet, but we are responsible where it counts. Guns in my house are disabled for storage. Whether that means they are taken apart, the safety is on, or they are unloaded (more than likely a combination of those), they are all stored in a responsible manner.

My kids know not to touch Ken's guns. They also know that if they want to ask questions or watch him clean them, they are perfectly welcome. They know that guns are for killing deer. They know that when they are ready to learn about how to handle a gun that Ken will show them, just as he has taken them fishing, and taught them archery. They know that the only guns you aim at someone are water guns.

Truly, I don't really like guns. (I fired a rifle once. I hit the bulls eye and there ended my gun handling. It can only go downhill from there, right?) I honestly think Ken owns more than he needs. He's tried explaining to me all the different types and uses, but I zone out. Much the way he zones out when I talk about buying new fabric. And much the way he tries really hard not to look sideways at my fabric stash too often. Marriage is a compromise like that.

Why am I telling you all this? I still don't know exactly. I want people to understand that there are reasons that I feel people should have the right to own firearms. I don't think that taking away everyone's guns is the answer to problems our country is facing.

I do think there should be limits on the types of firearms that people own. I do think that there should be hoops to jump through in order to purchase guns and ammo. I think that certain people should be excluded from the right to bare arms. The thing is, I don't know how all that looks. How does all that happen? Obviously it happens through some sort of legislation. That legislation should be the result of research and discussion, not yelling and vitriol.

There are lots of reasons this country has a problem with gun control. Being reactionary and screaming at each other will never help solve those problems. Skewing statistics to say what you want them to say will never solve this problem. Picking sides will never solve this problem, unless the side you pick is to be open-minded, compassionate, and reasonable. If that's your goal, I'd love to talk more with you.

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