My dad left the house before daybreak and returned as the sun set. He spent each day in the fields, managing the water, driving the tractors. My siblings and I helped on the farm. I’ve been up to my knees in mud trying to fill a gopher hole, I’ve walked the fields to check on the irrigation, I’ve picked cotton.
Always Dad carried a shotgun in his pickup. And, he made sure each of us knew how to use it. When he took us into the Chocolate Mountains, however, he brought his pistol. We'd climb into his homemade dune buggy and drive through the rugged terrain. On one such trip, we discovered a cave and my sibs and I decided to explore the darkness. The chilling sound of rattles drove us back out. I never liked snakes. Dad didn’t like snakes either. He took his pistol, walked into the cave, and one shot later he emerged holding the rattlesnake by its tail.
I have many stories like this. Gun stories. But, I also have car stories.
By the time I was eleven, I knew how to drive. Dad showed me the gauges and taught me to manually shift gears. This proved invaluable one day as I needed to drive mom to the hospital fifteen miles from our home; I was just twelve at the time.
Dad made sure his kids knew how to handle guns and cars. They were a necessary part of our lives on the farm.
I currently live in the mountains, in a bountiful hunting area. Children are taught how to use a rifle and or a bow. It is part of their lives. There is nothing sinister about this practice.
Over the span of my career in higher education, I’ve been bedside in hospitals dozens of time with college students who drank too much, who drove foolishly, who got in fights, who overdosed on drugs, or did something else foolish. Young people do foolish things, especially when they are not taught consequences.
Guns and cars are dangerous in the hands of those who do not know how to use them appropriately. They are not partisan objects. Democrats and Republicans own guns and cars.
We must to do something about gun violence, rhetoric simply divides and most of us are sick of it. Why are assault weapons legal, why are high capacity magazines available, why are guns sold to the unstable? The answer, from my vantage point, is that people would rather point a finger than insist on appropriate legislation. Our children are demanding change, and they deserve our thoughtful response through our elected representatives.