I wanted to be a responsible gun owner. So I took apart my gun.
Iam a responsible gun owner. I bought my first gun when I was 12. It was a Browning 12-gauge shotgun, and I saved money from my paper route and cleaning a drive-in restaurant to buy it in time for dove season. In the years before I could legally drive, I’d tie the Browning across the handlebars of my bike and ride to the fields outside town to hunt.
I’ve owned several guns since — deer rifles and target rifles, shotguns and a handgun. I bought that gun, a semiautomatic Ruger, to keep my family safe, and locked it up to keep them safe from it. Like I said, responsible.
Although I’d like to believe I’m not party to the gun violence that stains the United States, I can’t. My grandmother shot and killed herself with a gun, and a few years ago my father shot and didn’t quite kill himself with one. A family friend lost a teenage son in an accidental shooting while he and his friends were playing with a gun. My stepbrother died in a murdersuicide with a gun, and the husband of one of my sister’s co-workers was killed in a mass shooting by a guy carrying three of them.
None of that happened with my gun, of course, but after every new mass shooting, I’m reminded that I, as a responsible gun owner, bear a portion of the responsibility for our nation’s gun violence.
And now it’s time for responsible gun owners to help end it.
After the recent shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon — after every mass shooting on a college campus, at a movie theater, in an elementary school or wherever — someone from the National Rifle Association or some other gun-rights group, or someone in Congress or running for president, goes on television and says we can’t fund federal studies on gun violence or have universal background checks of gun buyers or do anything that even hints of gun control because it infringes on the rights of responsible gun owners.
My gun is being used to argue against doing anything to even try to reduce gun violence in thenation.That’swhatbeingaresponsiblegun owner means now — I’m responsible.
I’m a bit ashamed of how slowly I came to that realization. For most of my life, I never thought about guns, and I certainly didn’t weigh in on the gun control debate. Until recently, I didn’t even connect the tragedies in and around my family to guns.
The Monday after the recent mass shooting in Oregon, the author disassembled his gun and sent the proper paperwork to the state to report it destroyed.