The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary is easily one of the worst tragedies of my lifetime. It has led to many questions that haven’t been answered and probably never will.
What could motivate a man to shoot innocent children? How on Earth could he pull the trigger when he’s sighted in on a child? These are the kinds of questions that have fueled debates on every major news network. I don’t claim to have an answer that can cover everything that’s been asked, but I can help clear up some of the issues regarding guns and give my two cents.
Back in my junior year of high school I decided that I really wanted to go hunting. Since none of my immediate family members hunt, I got more than a few odd looks. But they supported me and helped me enroll in the hunter’s safety course.
The classes were held over one weekend with a combined total of 17 hours of class time. We were taught the parts of the gun, how to handle a gun, where to hunt, how to make sure a shot is a safe shot, and all sorts of other valuable safety tips.
Once I had my certification to buy a hunting license, I went to Dunham’s with my dad so I could buy my own rifle. I walked back to the hunting section and realized just how many different rifles and shotguns are available to the public.
My mom loves deer so I can’t kill any until I’m on my own. I decided to look for a good .22 rifle. A .22 is a very small caliber rifle that is used to kill mostly vermin like squirrels and groundhogs.
I ended up looking through the massive catalog they had and ordered a Savage Mark 2 bolt-action rifle. You can only legally hunt with a bolt action rifle, a semi automatic would lead to a “spray and pray” mentality since it would be so easy to unload an entire magazine. The bolt-action forces you to pick shots wisely and only shoot when you feel like the shot will be a kill.
As I was checking out I saw what appeared to be AK-47 rifles stocked on the shelves and asked the employee how they can sell assault weapons. As it turns out many of the “assault” weapons we see on sale are only assault weapons in an aesthetic sense.
The guts of the rifle have been reworked so they aren’t automatic and they shoot a smaller caliber than their wartime counterparts. They are generally semi automatic so they would only be good for target shooting. Some still come with a banana-style magazine, which can generally hold up to 30 rounds.
I find it ridiculous that these are sold to the general public. While hunting or at a range, you are only allowed to have five bullets in your rifle at any time. The gun itself has no malicious feelings towards society, yet we offer the tools of destruction to the sociopaths who do.
That’s all a gun is though, just another tool. It doesn’t do us any good to fear them and demand that they all get destroyed after a tragedy like Sandy Hook. Instead, we should learn about them and realize that the gun is only as dangerous as the person holding it.
I believe the reason any of these mass shootings happen is because these people need psychiatric help but can’t get it or the help is ineffective.
Although it won’t completely fix the issue, I believe that everyone who wants to own a gun should have to go through the safety course I went through. Having to sit through a 17-hour course will deter people who want a gun because they think it’s just a high-powered toy. Plus it will guarantee that the people who own the gun know its mechanics and the dangers that can be present if the gun is handled improperly.
We don’t need to arm the public with guns to defend against another mass shooting; we need to arm them with knowledge.
Editor's Note: The writer is the son of Pine-Richland Patch Editor Cindy Cusic Micco.