Do you remember when your mother, father or neighbor would take you hunting or shooting and actually teach you about responsible firearms use and gun safety? I do. My mom and dad didn’t know a lot about firearms, but my friend Charlie and his mom and dad did. They would take me with them to the farm and taught me how to shoot a .22 single-shot rifle. His parents also taught us about gun safety and the responsibilities involved with shooting and owning a firearm. After we learned the basics and after a lot of supervision and practice, over time we proved ourselves — earning the right to go it alone. Charlie and I practiced good gun safety habits while honing our shooting skills to levels far beyond our wildest dreams. Annie Oakley would’ve been proud.
When hunting season rolled around, all our practice paid off. Charlie’s mother Laverne would turn our harvest into the loveliest meal you’ve ever tasted. We learned a lot from her — she was a great mother, mentor, teacher and friend. It was a simple time where we were taught the difference between right and wrong, and we understood great freedoms brought great responsibilities.
Charlie and I liked to volunteer as trap boys at our local gun club. When we came out of the pit for a break, all the old guys would show their appreciation by letting us use their shotguns and shells to shoot trap. My, they were marvelous shots — and darn good teachers too. Charlie and I got to be pretty good wing-shooters because of those old farmers.
Many of you have similar stories, and like ours’ over time, things change. We all grew up and eventually became mentors to our own children as well as others. Teaching our children about gun safety and the responsible use of firearms is more important now than ever. Yet, we watch in disbelief as our nation turns its back on firearm rights and our individual freedoms pertaining to responsible firearm use and ownership.
It’s difficult to understand how parents can fail to teach their children how to shoot and safely handle a firearm. Why would we deprive our children of this great right and heritage? Why have we allowed ourselves to abandon our personal freedoms, forsake personal responsibility and to discard our moral principles?
We have become a complacent people and have allowed society to lead our children in ignorance and teach them how to be fearful. Fear and ignorance never made good companions. To make matters worse we have also permitted our children to be taught about firearms from television, movies and computer games. How can children comprehend the ethical use and safe handling of firearms from a virtual medium full of violence? Respect for firearms cannot be learned vicariously. It’s a hands-on sport to be taught by wise, loving mentors. Firearms are powerful tools that need to be felt and used to be appreciated and respected.
In a world of complexity, the simple answer is the right one. The best way to protect a child from a gun is to teach them how to use guns correctly and safely. It’s time to go back to the old-fashioned way. Parents, learn about firearms. Learn how to shoot. Learn about gun safety and then teach your children what you have learned. If you won’t or can’t, find someone knowledgeable you can trust to help you.
Fortunately, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has a special Foundation called Friends of NRA. Since its inception in 1992, Friends of NRA lends its non-political financial support for national and local shooting sports organizations, women’s firearm training, youth clubs and school gun safety programs. The Friends of NRA can fund local grant programs to help you learn about the safe and ethical use of firearms, so you can then teach your children. Firearm education in the home promotes trust and confidence, which are far better companions than fear and ignorance.
Friday, April 19 we can all participate in a fun event that helps the Friends of NRA support the shooting sports and gun safety. The Tooele County Friends of NRA Banquet will be held at the Eagles Nest in Tooele. Doors open at 5 p.m. — dinner is served at 7 p.m. Expect great food, fun, games, drawings, and both silent and live auctions. It’s an opportunity to help preserve our second amendment rights by supporting local shooting, hunting, conservation, and gun safety programs. Seating is limited to 200 people so don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Call Michael Harrison of Peak Firearms for details at (801) 448-2549 or Shawn Kelly at (801) 879-0403 or visit www.friendsofnra.org/events and click on Utah and Tooele County. I’ll see you from the sidelines.