The Camp David skeet-shooting photo of President Obama reminded me of my own rush shooting a gun.
In my own case, 20 years ago I was duck hunting at Disneyland's shooting gallery in Frontierland. Stay with me here. Like any dad, I was bonding with my son. Handing down the American tradition of killing metal ducks with a fake weapon. The infrared rifles and digital sound effects were entrancing. Like an early video game.
Among my close friends, I am not the only one who gets a high from shooting a weapon. Ashwini Narayanan, former MicroPlace CEO and a practicing Buddhist, talked with me on camera about firing a machine gun:
Barrel forward (so to speak) to the intense national gun debate. In bullet point format (so to speak), some of the arguments puzzle me:
- Why do both sides of the gun safety debate crow about owning a gun? In discussions about America's obesity challenge, no one establishes their personal standing to discuss the issue by asserting, "I have a pantry with food in it" or "I have eaten food since I was a young child."
- I think I get the point that, if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. Let's legalize heroin because it seems unjust to deny it to law-abiding gun owners when, obviously, criminals have access to any illegal drugs they want. After all, drugs don't kill people...
- From watching cop shows on TV, everyone knows you get a government-financed lawyer if you can't afford your own legal counsel. Under the Second Amendment, shouldn't I be guaranteed a firearm if I can't afford one? Why isn't there a government Office of Free Guns for indigent populations?
- Is it reasonable that the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to own a gun to protect myself at home, but not own a home?
- If guns in public places truly make us safer, why is there no NRA-type campaign to allow weapons in the halls of Congress, on airplanes, at sporting events and -- now that I think about it -- in Disneyland?
When I was twelve years old growing up in San Francisco, I discovered my dad's pistol and a box of ammunition tucked under his mattress. I never asked him about it.
One of the most gentle men on the face of the Earth, my father lived in fear. Fear of criminal break-ins. Fear of people he did not understand. Fear that he would fail to protect us.
He took lessons, as many gun owners don't, and often practiced at a firing range. I never asked him why he never took me. He never told me what to do if a break-in occurred when I was home alone.
Statistically, instead of stopping an intruder, my dad's gun was more likely to accidentally kill me, my mom or one of my friends. I never asked him if he knew that.
When my dad died, I turned over his gun to the local police. I was glad to get rid of it.