Thursday, November 29, 2012

Off target

Posted on Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 4:00 AM

After reading “Loaded” by Jamie Rogers (see Nov. 8), I learned more about the writer’s view about pulling the trigger in the Treasure State then I learned about actually pulling the trigger in the Treasure State. Although the writer tried to be objective, and to his credit he actually talked to some gun enthusiasts and experienced shooting firsthand prior to writing the piece, the information in the article was still presented from the writer’s own biases and did a huge disservice to the citizens of Montana, and elsewhere, who have a much deeper understanding of and respect for guns, shooting sports and the Second Amendment. 

 

I would like to offer that there is another perspective about the value of guns that was not touched upon in this article, a value in maintaining the freedom to bear arms (using guns for self-defense), a value in the shooting sports and a value in the tradition and the heritage of gun collecting. Not all of us will understand these values, but all of us should respect them nonetheless.

I would also like to offer that while the NRA has become a political powerhouse for gun rights (out of necessity due to the general public’s regular diet of slanted and misinformation in the media about guns), it is also alive and well as a supporter and promoter of responsible and safe gun ownership and handling, featuring many competitive shooting events and gun safety education and training programs. The group also provides free information, education and gun locks to communities and schools.

I am an NRA-certified shotgun instructor and range safety officer. I was the volunteer director of a gun club for ten years, ran a women’s shotgun clinic for nine years and coached a youth trapshooting team for seven years. I have met hundreds of people who have a deep respect and understanding of guns, people who are not trying to promote their love of guns on anyone but who find themselves and their passion for guns regularly in the sites of anti-gun enthusiasts who plaster the media with sensationalized stories and statistics.

Although I am a member of the NRA, I do not agree with every political tactic or position they take and I have personally chosen not to carry a firearm for self-defense at the present moment. However, I credit the NRA in helping me make that educated decision.

I understand the emotional attachment to guns that some persons experience as part of their family’s heritage and tradition. I also understand the emotional attachment some people have to blaming guns for crimes rather than looking deeper at the causes. It is more comforting to believe that by controlling access to inanimate objects we can solve a problem that really requires going much deeper—delving into the ugly side of human nature.

Working in the field of adolescent mental health I have met many disturbed youth. These young people are deeply hurt and sometimes very angry because they feel unloved and unlovable. When a young person is teased, made fun of, bullied or mistreated by peers and demeaned by the adults in their lives, they can become deeply wounded. Like scared animals they lash out at a world they see as cruel and rejecting. Some attempt to escape their pain through drugs and become addicted. Some people simply develop neurological disorders that cause others to withdraw from them. Desperate people resort to desperate acts to exact revenge on perceived wrongs done to them or to get attention. The disturbed persons who pulled the trigger on the great tragedies at Columbine, Virginia Tech and more recently, at a movie theatre in Colorado, were lashing out at what they perceived as a cruel world. Or maybe they were going for the fame that comes from the media coverage of such events?

Thanks to that non-stop media coverage of such tragedies and the focus of groups like the Brady Campaign, the real causes of these tragedies become obscured and buried time and again. There are also some people who make a good case for and blame the entertainment industry for promoting violence in our society. Either way, mental health problems, social cruelty and violent entertainment all play a significantly larger role in a person’s decision to kill and maim other human beings than the inanimate objects that they choose to use to carry out their desperate acts.

Wendy Mair

Missoula

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