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The Spectator
founded 2004 by ron cruger
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 by Ron Cruger
rcruger@san.rr.com
2013 Spectator Ron - The Spectator All Rights Reserved
C
Guns scare me
          My first experience with any kind of firearm was the Red Ryder BB gun that my parents gave me for my twelfth birthday. For weeks I went around our back yard and the vacant lots in the area firing BBs at tins cans, Coke bottles, scraps of paper and, once in a while, at birds. Fortunately (for the birds and my evolving conscience) I never struck a bird. After a few months my Red Ryder BB gun found a spot in the corner closet and was rarely used as I passed through my puberty years. I did, for a few years, oil and shoot one BB each year on the anniversary of my birth and of my receiving the rifle. I think I gave the rifle and a box of copper BBs to my younger cousin when I reached my eighteenth birthday.
          My next experience with a firearm was when my two close friends Don and Dick asked me if I wanted to join them on an adventurous outing to the Mohave Desert. Just the three of us. Each armed with a .22 caliber rifle. I don’t know where they got their rifles, but my weapon was a loan from my father – a thirty year old .22 caliber relic. The three of us were armed. Dick parked the car on a dried river bed . We loaded our guns from a very old supply of .22 caliber short bullets and we headed out into the desert, prepared to face anything, as long as it wasn’t alive.
         My first adversary was an old Campbell Soup can hiding behind a tumbleweed bush. I aimed and fired. Click. Nothing happened. Another press on the trigger and another click. The bullets were old, the rifle was older. Another press on the trigger and I felt a slight recoil and heard the rifle fire. I missed the tin can by a foot and a half, but the small bullet did pass through the tumbleweed. If I had any sense I would have realized the danger of firing contaminated bullets from an obviously decaying firearm. However, I remained with my friends, managing to coax .22 caliber bullets from the aging rifle. I fired at beer cans, discarded milk cartons, cactus plants and an assortment of rocks and stones that I fantasized into appearing as skunks, jack rabbits, mountain lions and miniature Nazis.
          My last occasion with a firearm was as a mere spectator. I had traveled to Rome and upon landing at Leonardo da Vinci Airport I walked  from the arrival area to the baggage section. There I was faced with an armed Roman soldier every fifteen feet. Seems that there was some kind of para-military disturbance in the Rome area and the government was insuring that the violence would not spread to the airport. Each Roman soldier was in full fatigue uniform, holding some type of automatic rifle close to his chest as he manned his station, stared ahead, ready for combat.
          For the first time in my life I felt what it meant to be in proximity to an armed (and ready for battle) individual. The thought kept circulating in my brain, “He who has the guns rules!”
          The Roman soldiers ruled. There was to be no kidding around, no jokes, no nothing. I’ve heard the National Rifle Association people say, “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” Sounds good, but seeing a gun stand in a corner doesn’t bother me. Not until a person walks over and takes the gun in his hand do I start sweating.
          And now I note that loaded guns will be allowed in many of our National Parks. The guns with bullets in them will be allowed in Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and other national parks. The newly passed law permits licensed gun owners to take firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges as long as they are allowed by state law. Gun control advocates fear it will lead to increased violence in national parks.
          Loaded guns can be carried in private lodges and concession stands. The Park Service reported that in 2008 there were 3,760 reported major crimes, including five homicides and thirty seven rapes in parks. Is it really thought that by permitting an increase of men with loaded guns into a National Park that crime will be reduced?
          In other firearm news, the Agents and officers of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reported that 289 of their handguns, shotguns and automatic rifles had been lost or stolen in the past few years. My guess is that the majority of these lost and stolen guns are currently in the hands of people we would rather not be armed. Beware all you liquor stores.
          Proof of the National Rifle Association’s lobbying power is that the Virginia General Assembly recently approved a bill that allows people to carry concealed weapons in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol. Arizona and Wyoming lawmakers are considering a half-dozen pro-gun measures, including one that would allow residents to carry concealed weapons without a permit. And Virginia’s house of delegates voted to repeal a seventeen year old ban on citizens buying more than one handgun a month.
          We are headed for a time when we can look at the “Wild West” as the “Mild West” compared to the gun play that is growing on America’s streets.
          Guns scare me. Especially when they’re in the hands of men and women who shouldn’t have them. And it appears that there are thousands (if not millions) of men and women who shouldn’t have them.
          If you don’t think we have a gun problem read your local newspaper tomorrow morning. These guys aren’t carrying Red Ryder BB guns.