The other day I had an experience that was entirely new to me: I fired a gun. In America that’s not a very big deal, so I suppose that it’s a bit strange that it took me so long to check that one off of my bucket list. It’s not as if I was afraid to fire a gun, my family just doesn’t own any guns or go hunting, so I hadn’t really had a reason to fire one. However, since I’ve talked a bit about gun rights on this site, I figured that I needed to educate myself more on firearms when the opportunity presented itself. That’s how I ended up going to a gun range with my mom, my sister, my sister’s friend, and my mom’s coworker.
My mom’s coworker, Jim, was the one who actually owned the guns, and he had offered to teach my mom and the rest of my family how to shoot. Mom surprised me not only by accepting the offer, but by asking me if I wanted to go too. After all of my past dealings with depression and suicidal thoughts, I had figured my mom wouldn’t want me anywhere near a gun. It was nice to see how much trust she had in me, but I suppose that’s beside the point.
We met Jim at the gun range when it was time to shoot, and I must admit I was pretty excited. Firearms certainly aren’t toys, but they’re still really cool. They’re are a bit like exotic sports cars; anything with that much raw power is awe inspiring. For the cars, it’s the power of speed; for the guns, it was the power to kill. That power is all too easily abused, but luckily for us, the gun range offered a way to enjoy the power and sport of shooting guns without endangering anyone.
Jim was really easygoing the whole time, despite the fact that the four of us could have killed him with a single mistake. I kept worrying that I would forget what I was holding and accidentally shoot my mom or my sister, but that fear forced me to ensure my gun was always pointed in a safe direction. I started off with a 9mm Heckler & Koch pistol, surprising myself when my first shot hit the bullseye of my target (to be fair, we started off standing only 3 yards away). Jim had showed us how to properly hold, aim, and fire, and it was a lot more complicated than I had previously thought. My first bullseye was more a result of luck than skill, which became clear as my next few shots began to stray towards the bottom of the target. The more I shot, the easier it became to remember all of the right steps and stay on target, but I certainly need a lot more practice before I can consider myself to be a good marksman.
Then came a .45 Glock, which had a slightly different feel to it, then a .38 Smith & Wesson revolver, and then finally the infamous AR-15. Jim’s AR had a red dot sight and a suppressor, which really made it feel like the guns I had seen in games like Call of Duty. This one was semi-automatic of course, and a lot heavier than I had imagined. Despite that, it was still just as deadly. Standing about 10-15 yards away from the target, the red dot sight let me send about 12 rounds right into the center of the target in a matter of seconds. It was easy to see how this type of gun had been used to commit mass shootings across the country. This thing could do some damage.
That being said, Jim certainly hadn’t killed anyone with his AR-15, so I don’t think his guns need to be taken away. He shoots as a hobby and has plenty of fun with it, but he also has plenty of respect for the weapons and the power they possess. He doesn’t screw around with them or try to scare people with them, he just thinks the guns are cool, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t agree with him on that. I don’t really see why he needs to have an AR-15, but if he’s having fun and being responsible, I can certainly live with it.
My problem lies more in how easily these types of guns can be purchased. It’s certainly not easy to get a gun, but it’s not hard either. I dont like the idea of limiting people’s freedoms, but the thought of more and more mass shootings occurring is much worse. Americans as a whole needs to reach a middle ground that benefits all of us, from those who love guns to those who abhor them, by making us all safer.
We keep bad drivers off of the road by requiring people to pass a driving test before acquiring a license, why not do something similar with guns? Ensuring that a prospective gun owner is capable of using the weapon safely would be a step in the right direction. There’s no easy way to tell if someone is buying a gun with ill intentions, but the more tests have to be passed before acquiring a gun, the more likely a prospective criminal will be deterred. I have a new respect for guns now, but that has only strengthened my belief that they should not be so easily available.