Recently, a news story of about a five-year-old Texas boy came to my attention. It detailed how he had killed a rather large alligator with an expertly aimed shotgun blast. Being a liberal who dislikes guns, my knee-jerk reaction was “What idiot would give a shotgun to a five-year-old?”
But the article went on to detail the dangers of his parents’ ranch and the careful supervision given by his father in training him to use the weapon. Finally, a gun owner who gets it! On his ranch, the gun is a necessary tool, used for self-defense against dangers prevalent in that region of Texas. It is not a novelty item. It is not a toy for worrying squirrels or killing songbirds.
The child reacted to the threat according to his training, killing the alligator with one carefully aimed shot. There was no panic on his part because he was ready for such a potential threat.
Many gun owners believe that it is enough preparation just to know how to load a gun. They believe that once past that hurdle, it is simply a matter of point and shoot. They believe that hiding the gun somewhere in their bedroom is enough to keep it out of their child’s hands. Even when the gun is in a locked case and the key placed both out of sight and supposedly out of reach, it is not always enough.
There have been instances where ten year old boys have shot other children despite of training, or perhaps because of it. In the case of the five year old the gun is a dangerous tool necessary for survival. It is not “fun”; it is life and death. And at five, this boy seems to have grasped the concept, to his father’s credit.
Thanks to the paranoia of the National Rifle Association, there are still too many guns owned by people with not enough training in the proper handling and storage of firearms. It has not even occurred to them that legislation requiring registration and training could work to their benefit. Their membership might actually swell if the owners of guns are required to show knowledge of the proper handling of a deadly weapon before being able to buy a weapon.
I believe registration should not impede gun ownership nor should a responsible owner object to registration. We require auto owners to have a driver’s license and insurance (I know, cars are not covered by the constitution.) I think a gun owner should have a responsiblity to insure against accidental discharge and consequential damage from a firearm. I’m certain the NRA could work with the insurance industry to draft such a policy.
I don’t own a gun and have no problem with the neighbor owning one. But I do object strongly when his child aims a pellet gun ot my house and fires, regardless of what he is trying to shoot.