By Dave Jones
Are you responsible enough to own a firearm? Of course most people are going to answer a resounding yes to that question, especially if they already own one. But have you ever really thought about it? I did back when I was 21. And the conclusion I came to was no, I really wasn’t responsible enough to own a heater. What brought me to that conclusion, you might ask? . . .
I grew up around guns, as a lot of people did, and fired my first one around the age of 5 or 6 (under the watchful guidance of my father). I’m not even sure if knew how read at the time. It was a .22 WMR revolver. Of the several lessons taught that day, the one that stood out most was that the gun wasn’t a toy.
The years went by and shooting was a pretty regular activity as I grew up, always with an emphasis on safety and responsibility. In fact my firearms privileges were revoked for about a year once when I was thirteen for a major safety violation (that’s a story for another time).
Then I turned 21, could drink legally, was on my own and could do whatever the hell I wanted up to and including buying my own handgun. But I decided not to do — buy a gun, that is. Shouldn’t a young man of legal age who was raised around firearms and still went shooting regularly get his own gun? The answer for me was ‘no.’
Why? To start with, I was a hothead, the guy in the group who was most likely to start a bar fight. I was also prone to road rage. Letting other drivers know when they had pissed me off was almost a hobby. And then there was the aforementioned drinking. Short story, I was fan of it and did a lot of it.
So I was the last person on earth that needed a firearm. After all, there’s nothing more dangerous than a 19 year old with a beer in his hand and I wasn’t too far removed from that at the time. To say I was a little irresponsible at that point in my life would be like saying Hitler was a little bellicose. Fortunately, I knew this about myself but really had no desire to do much about it at the time.
I concluded that if I owned a gun there was a good chance I’d deliberately shoot someone in less than an absolutely necessary situation. So I decided I didn’t need to own one. I still went shooting regularly. If I needed a firearm for recreational use, Dad was more than happy to let me borrow one. He knew I knew what I was doing and that he’d taught me well. In fact I shot much more frequently than most of my friends who owned guns back then.
At the age of 30, my girlfriend of nearly two years (now my wife) and I moved in together just before Christmas. That changed the equation considerably. I now had more than myself to worry about. How would I protect her if someone broke in with ill intent? So again I asked myself, are you responsible enough to own a gun?
I hardly drank anymore and whatever it was that fueled my youthful anger had run its course — I had mellowed considerably. The conclusion this time was yes, I was more than responsible enough to own a gun. It was a realization that was both scary and exciting at the same time. I had always loved shooting. There were so many weapons out there I would love to own and I was at a point in my career where I had enough money to support such a habit. So yes, I decided, I would get a gun after Christmas.
I had discussed this with my girlfriend and she had no issues with it. She had been shooting with the family a few times and she’s working hard to get more more lead on a target than I am.
On Christmas we sat under the tree opening our presents and there was one that was rather heavy and overly large. I had no idea what it was. Turns out she had filled a very large box with bricks to add weight and inside the large box, in a small plastic case, was a shiny new Taurus 24/7 (Gen 1 — it was 2005 after all). I was a gun owner for the first time in my life.
My history with firearms had reduced the learning curve at that point to nearly zero and owning a gun just felt right. Comforting, like and old jacket you can’t seem to get rid of.
No, it wasn’t the gun I would have chosen had I gone shopping for it myself. Yes, I was aware of the reputation Taurus had for producing more than the occasional lemon. But you never know until you test it, I figured. Seven years and thousands of rounds later, it still runs well. I have since embraced my love of firearms and shooting and the collection is ever growing.
If you’re reading this you probably already own several firearms and consider yourself responsible. Perhaps you know a young man like I was who may not be ready just yet. In fact, he may not know himself well enough yet to ask the question.
Please have them read this. Have anyone you know considering the purchase of their first firearm read this. The point being, despite the fact you have the right to own a gun, are you the right person to have one? If you’ve thought about it already, good for you. If not, maybe you should.