For many of us, the trajectory of our lives is launched and guided by our parents. One of many examples for me was when my dad taught me to respect how the tools (including guns) and skills of fishing, hunting, farming, and ranching were critical to our ancestor’s survival. They were essential for the protection of farm animals from natural predators and protection of family from marauders. Back then, there was no 911 to call and no police who could immediately respond to a crisis. They were on their own and had to fend for themselves.
I had many friends who went hunting with their dads while enjoying quality father-son bonding. Likewise, I treasured those outings with my dad canoeing on rivers, hiking up mountain trails, or just wandering through the forest while he taught me about the beauty and power of nature.
But today, I am, “A Good Man WITHOUT a Gun,” because I grew up in a house with no guns. This is how our parents raised the four of us, and this is the path I have followed for 74 years. If it was good enough for my parents, I knew it was good enough for me and my family. There’s a good chance that if my dad had been a hunter, I would be one today with a locked gun cabinet in the basement. But that didn’t happen.
Instead of walking through the forest hunting a deer, my dad taught me how to collect wood and build a fire from scratch for cooking. Instead of cleaning a rifle, my dad showed me how to lay bricks to make a patio. Instead of practicing at the gun range, dad threw a baseball and football with me in the front yard. Instead of browsing at a gun show, our family loved to go see a movie together at the outdoor drive-in theater. Different strokes for different folks.
Does this mean at a critical life or death moment, I won’t be able to defend myself and others? Could I be shot and killed because I wasn’t carrying a concealed gun, prepared for my good-guy hero moment?
Maybe. Anything’s possible in this life. But I’m counting on the local police to enforce the law, protect citizens, and save lives. This is the job they train for. I 100% support the good police professionals (no “defunding” in our house), and I have always “thanked them for their service”. Until they show up: run, hide, fight.
Their path in life requires a gun on their belt. That has never been and will never be my path.
If a troubled and desperate 22-year-old kid hides on a rooftop and picks off innocent and unsuspecting people with an AR-15, then the good guy with a gun is 22 years too late to solve the real problem. For every one potential good guy with a gun, there are millions of everyday heroes – parents, family, friends, neighbors, teachers, coaches, counselors, religious leaders, volunteers — who are reaching out to kids in need with listening, caring and help. This might be the most powerful way to mitigate the angry and disturbed visions of a future mass killer ready to end it all. The good guy with a gun may stop a shooter after he’s done his damage, but it does nothing to solve the root problem which began a lifetime ago.
I know that I was lucky to have grown up under my parents’ protection and love. I have never had to live in fear. There was no gunfire going off at night where I grew up. We never had to lock our doors. But not everybody is so lucky. For those people who do live in fear every day, I can’t know what they must feel, but I respect their feelings. If they want a gun for protection and peace of mind, I understand. Maybe I would too if I were in their shoes.
Unfortunately, violence is part of America’s culture. Violence is as American as apple pie. “Every day in America, more than 200 people are wounded by guns; 120 are killed by them. Of these 120, 11 are children and teens. The leading cause of mortality among children in America is now death by a gun. The same number of deaths—120—will happen tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, every day, until we come to our senses and do something about it.”Fareed Zakaria
My dad lived to be 100 without ever shooting anyone, and I aspire to be like dad. He was part of the majority of Americans who don’t own a gun. These Americans rely on living a peaceful, productive, and civil lives sharing good will and a loving spirit with everyone they meet. I’m part of that majority and we believe in the collective force of “peace on earth“ as a far more powerful long-term solution to gun violence than a bullet.
This will be our contribution towards solving the gun violence problem.
No guns required.