By Jacob Stevens
It is a warm summer afternoon in the back woods of North Carolina. A row of tin cans sit in front of a huge pecan tree, and an eight year old boy bombards the cans from 15 yards away with his Daisy Red Ryder. The chirping of the birds is punctuated by the clicking of the action and the tings of BB’s finding their marks. The boy’s father calls to him, ordering him to stop shooting as he proceeds down the impromptu firing range and places a two liter bottle of water amongst the row of cans. After the father clears the range and goes inside, the boy begins to lay effective fire on the bottle . . .
As round after round is deflected by the bottle’s plastic walls, the boy gets more and more annoyed. As he gets up from the prone to reload, there is a sudden and deafening roar. The bottle on the target line suddenly turns into a brilliant explosion of water and plastic. The boy, awestruck, turns to see his father re-slinging his Remington 742 Woodsmaster. “That, son is why you don’t EVER play with guns. They’re not toys and should always be treated with the utmost respect and care.” The boy is speechless as he follows his dad inside for dinner.
I was that eight year old boy, and that was the first time I had ever experienced firsthand what a high powered firearm was capable of. During hunting trips I had witnessed the aftermath, but I had never seen such power up close. It was something I knew of but never really thought of and the sudden violence and destruction really left an impression.
Truthfully I never needed this final lesson of weapon safety from my father; he had already done an excellent job instilling it in me from the day I received my first BB gun for Christmas. If he didn’t trust me completely the gun would have never left his cabinet, and I would not have been able to shoot without him.
Even after four years in the Marine Corps and seeing the gruesome carnage that firearms cause, that initial lesson in good effects on target has stuck with me. The reason I share this story is because I feel like people do not effectively understand the intensity of a firearm, or repercussions of firearm misuse.
As any parent can tell you, children tend to take things for granted and simply saying “because I told you so” doesn’t always work. That’s why I have shown my sons what guns are capable of, both good and bad. This does not mean scar or scare your children with pictures of corpses. Take them on a hunt and let them watch as you clean the deer that you accidentally gut-shot because the round ricocheted off a shoulder blade or exploded on a rib. When people see these things firsthand, they are more apt to focus on the responsibility that comes with gun ownership.
Of course I’m only writing about one aspect of weapon safety, I could write a whole other article on weapon safety. I religiously believe in firearms safety and education. Ignorance breeds fear and we find ourselves having to defend a tool that the attackers are ignorant of. After all, a gun is only a tool; it cannot do things on its own and shouldn’t be demonized as if it could. We can all follow charge ourselves, gun owners, with the education of the ignorant masses.