Guest opinion: Guns-R-Us

  • Wednesday, February 21, 2018 1:30am
  • Opinion

My dad didn’t know much about guns, but he kept a few shotguns plus a Remington locked in a steel box up in the attic. He was a “social hunter,” a guy who liked spending a few days getting stinky in the woods, sharing lies with pals and eating what barely passed for food. For dad, guns were a ticket to ride.

Most homes in my working class town kept what we today term “long guns.” Deer rifles, bird guns, varmint guns, skeet guns, target guns, turkey shoot muzzle-loaders. Inventories swelled with a slew of inherited or antique nuisances either squirreled away or decoratively displayed on knotty pine walls.

Guns — long guns — were as common as brooms. They were tools. You needed them to get something done. But there wasn’t a single rifle I knew about that was kept to “get self-defense done.” None featured “assault” as a primary use.

A pal’s dad had a post-WWII issue M-2 that he plinked with, always pointing out the this was the gun that “could have shortened the war” repeating horror stories about “ … that piece of crap M-1” he was forced to drag over Europe’s killing fields.

The M-2 was the first US Army issued rifle that had “selective firing,” a choice between automatic (continuous shooting) or semi-automatic (single shot) attack modes.

The 1945 introduction of the M-2 was a tipping point in gun design. Its innovations inspired weapons designers to cross breed and spawn existing designs into today’s enormous (and incestuous) world family of long gun “assault weapons”.

These are the killing machines we ritualistically rail against when mass slaughter once again catches the national attention. With the exception of those paid not to represent us, polls show that most of Americans would like to see assault weapons banned entirely … a good beginning.

However, the unfortunate truth is that long guns — including assault weapons — don’t kill that many people.

If in 2010 we had vaporized every long gun in the USA — no matter what its design or intended purpose — we would have saved 358 lives — 3 percent of the 11,078 firearm homicides that year.

Consider 2014 when 8,124 Americans were slaughtered with firearms: 5,562 — 68 percent — were delivered a hand-held death.

In 2005, the score was: handguns, 75 percent; long guns, 9 percent.

Plainly, citizens pulling handgun triggers is the core problem. Why can’t we debunk the myth that sidearms “ … built this great land of ours”? What prevents us from taking a lesson from the nations that have entirely banned handguns?

Parkland, Fla., has produced unsurprising reviews for yet another reality horror show. And there’s not an American alive who doesn’t expect a sequel.

Isn’t it time to cleanse ourselves of the testosterone fueled, “Showdown at the OK Corral” quick-draw posturing that insults the very core of our American values?

Greg Madsen is a Sequim resident.

More in Opinion

Guest opinion: Gov. Inslee eyeing a run at the White House

Can a little known thoroughbred from the Pacific Northwest capture the 2020… Continue reading

Water Matters: Sustainability

This Monday evening there were at least two winners … the Seahawks… Continue reading

Guest opinion: On civility and power, Part II

How can we have civil conversations about complicated issues? What specific steps… Continue reading

Guest opinion: Move forward on water quality standards

In an unfortunate reversal, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has decided to… Continue reading

From the Back Nine: Unexpected pride

I’ve been thinking about Pride. Not a pride of lions, or “Pride… Continue reading

Letters to the editor — Dec. 5, 2018

Do right by our youth with new field Nathalie Torres worked hard… Continue reading

Think About It: Light, dark sides of giving

I thought I’d better write this column early in the season, lest… Continue reading

Guest opinion: Tribes release habitat recovery strategy

“As the salmon disappear, so do our cultures and treaty rights. We… Continue reading

Guest opinion: A billion here, a billion there …

Fifty billion dollars. It will soon be the subject of many conversations… Continue reading

Guest opinion: Reducing wildfire risk is imperative

While massive wildfires are historic, they are more dangerous today. As our… Continue reading

Guest opinion: Costs matter in hiring

While both sides argue over the merits of Seattle’s escalating minimum wage,… Continue reading

Think About It: Women’s work never done

In two years, the League of Women Voters will celebrate its 100th… Continue reading