by Bob Ciminel
November 13, 2004
Had you worried, didn't I? No sweat. I come down firmly on both sides of the gun control debate. Everybody should be allowed to own a gun, but not too many. After all, the things don't wear out and they aren't designed for planned obsolescence. The "bells and whistles" gun manufacturers and after-market suppliers have added over the years are there to compensate for the fact that many of today's gun owners, including myself, are lousy shots.
I came across an interesting statistic in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (everything in the South has two names), which is not known to be a conservative newspaper. The AJC said 99.8 percent of the guns owned by Americans are not used in a violent crime in any given year. That data surprised the heck out of me. The way the liberal media and anti-gun crowd is talking, you would think every gun ever made is responsible for ten or twenty homicides each year and responsible for even more shootings that are accidental. This begs the question, why is Congress so bent on passing laws that will constrain the right to bear arms for 200 million Americans when only 0.2 percent of the guns are causing the problems. There must be money involved somewhere.
I have a World War II rifle I bought through the Federal government's Directorate of Civilian Marksmanship. The DCM was originally created by Congress to provide civilians an opportunity to learn and practice marksmanship skills so they would be skilled marksmen if later called on to serve in the military. Over the years, the emphasis of the program shifted its focus to youth development through marksmanship.
My rifle is an M-1 Garand. Tom Hanks carried an M-1 Carbine in the movie "Saving Private Ryan." The difference between the Garand and the Carbine is like comparing a peashooter and an elephant gun. The Army didn't want officers carrying those heavy Garand rifles, but they obviously needed something bigger than a pistol. So they hand Mr. Browning develop a rifle that shoots a pistol bullet.
The Garand rifle fires uses a .30-'06 cartridge, a powerful, long-range, high velocity round that is devastatingly accurate in the hands of an experienced shooter. Soldiers used to say you could circumcise a man at 600 yards with a Garand. The carbine, on the other hand, uses the 30-caliber carbine cartridge, a light, slow moving, and short-range bullet with very little stopping power. The Carbine was notoriously inaccurate. If you hit an elephant at 50 yards, it would be a lucky shot.
The Government already has an effective gun control program. For example, here is what I had to do to purchase my M-1 Garand from the DCM. First, I had to take a 2-day course at an officially sanctioned gun club to learn how to use and care for the rifle. Once the gun club signed my application, I had to be fingerprinted by the local sheriff and have a background check run by the FBI. Then, I waited for a year. Finally, the government told me to send them a money order for $165 - no checks or credit cards accepted. Two weeks later the mailman dropped the rifle on my front steps. It was shipped uninsured in a brown cardboard box.
With so much anti-gun venom being spewed by the liberal media these days, let me tell you something good about a gun. My son earned two marksmanship awards with my M-1 rifle when he was eleven years old. We would drive up to a gun club in McComb, Mississippi. I called it a "progressive Christian gun club" because although they did not allow African-Americans to use the club, women could, if a man accompanied them.
I used our long drives up to the gun club from New Orleans as an opportunity to talk with my son about sex and drugs; to educate him on the finer points of racial and sexual discrimination; and to explain some of the subtleties of Southern Christianity. My son used the time to show me what goes on in the mind of an eleven-year-old boy, and he gave me much more insight than I could ever give him.
Those trips are probably only
a tiny part of my son's childhood memories, but they were part
of the continuum of being a "father." When I take that
M-1 down from the closet to clean and oil it, I don't see images
of death. Instead, I see a father and son learning from each
other and spending quality time together in the backwoods of