When I was the age of ten my parents took me to their deer hunting camp for the first time (1948). Camp was a pretty exciting place for a youngster. There were always 25 – 30 hunters in the group — mostly relatives — and the hunting stories told around the campfire at night were chock full of hunting experience.

Before I was allowed to pick up a rifle my parents gave me a demonstration of the power of a 30-30 bullet by setting up a two gallon can of water and firing a round through it. I was suitably impressed. I followed in their footsteps for several years before I was allowed to carry a rifle on the hunt.

As I helped “clean and dress” deer that were killed and brought to camp it became obvious how much damage a high velocity bullet could do to muscle and bone.



Rules for Safety

At all times my parents stressed gun safety — a gun was not to be pointed at anything unless you intended to shoot it. At all other times the barrel was to be aimed at the ground or at the sky. Every gun was treated as a loaded gun. Before you handed a gun to someone else you were to open the action and check the barrel. When someone handed you a gun you opened the action and checked the barrel.

My two sons were raised to adulthood with the same strict gun safety training. But before you begin to think I am too smug I’ll have to tell you there were still some “near misses” or if you like to think of it another way, “near hits.” Fortunately we all walked away without injury primarily because we followed the safety rules.

It’s human nature to make mistakes but if you take precautions those mistakes can be minimized… but there will still be mistakes. Following rules will compensate for mistakes.



Ownership of Guns

Just like there is a need for more than one tool in a toolbox there is a need for more than one gun in my gun closet. Each is designed for a different use, some are there just because I like guns. I appreciate the beauty, design, or history of the weapon. I have a permit to carry a concealed weapon and at times I do carry one or two.



Why pack a Weapon?

Sometimes the question comes up, “Why do you carry a gun? The scoffers tell me I probably wouldn’t get to use it anyway and the bad guy would take it from me and kill me with it…” There is a good deal of truth in that advice. When in the military service I was given some training in self defense. The sergeant that taught the course had a black belt in just about everything defensive and offensive. He clearly demonstrated to me that my best survival chances were to shoot first and ask questions later. The “professional” killer will kill you before you can get to a gun to use it. The sergeant could do it even if I had the gun pointed at him (simulated arrest). By the time I realized I needed to pull the trigger it was too late.




And I read in the literature that even in Alaska where there are big ferocious bears roaming about that the only people that carry guns are the cheechakos (newcomers)… the old hands know that a gun won’t do you any good if a bear is determined to get you. They claim that the confidence factor of carrying a gun will take you into places you wouldn’t otherwise go. This may all be true. But I never feel helpless when I pack a weapon… I like that confidence factor. There have been times when I didn’t have a gun and I felt very lucky to escape with my life. And there have been times when I carried a gun and the casual display of the gun belt defused a bad situation immediately. People get real polite when they see the size of those 357 magnum cartridges.

I have read where people were beat near death with baseball bats carried by a hostile group of some kind. And they related the totally helpless feeling they had when they realized the seriousness of the situation. Like I said, I don’t like to feel helpless.



Anti-gun Paranoia

There are those who would deny me ownership of a gun. They are steeped in paranoia and fear that I might someday go mad and start shooting everyone in sight. History shows us that can happen, has happened to others, and that even the best training can be put to vicious use. Thankfully those happenings are rare and there are warning signs indicating their potential. Taking guns away from everyone is a solution but there are many more solutions that make more sense.

Ben Raven

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