Special to the Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE —
I once owned a gun. Actually, it was Dad’s gun and I was allowed to use it. He bought an air gun which shot BB’s to protect our home — in a way.
The gun replaced a short-range BB gun and was purchased as a surprise for “Friskey,” a neighbor dog who came into our yard to tease and harass our collie. Lady was not encouraged to leave our yard and Dad had taken to easing the screen door open and popping Friskey and encouraging him to go home.
Friskey actually learned to gauge the range of the BB gun and would dash just out of range to resume his teasing as soon as Dad had gone back into the house.
That’s when Dad got the pump BB gun. True to habit, Friskey appeared, Dad eased the screen door open, Friskey sprinted just out of what had been range and earned himself a zap in the hind quarters. The longer range of the new gun certainly gave Friskey pause for thought.
So, as a former gun “owner,” I’ve followed the debate on gun control with less than all-consuming interest. I have fired BB guns, a .22 rifle and once — but only once — a 12-gauge shotgun. I can’t honestly think of anything I want to shoot.
But I do respect the Second Amendment to the Constitution which allows Americans to “keep and bear arms” and am more than willing to endorse a strict-construction interpretation of that amendment. It was, after all, written in the late 18th century when the only guns available were flintlock rifles used to hunt game and supplement the family diet. But since flintlocks are now available, I am willing to stretch a bit to admit a hunting rifle or even a shotgun for those who prefer getting their protein from wild animals.
I do, however, think of dozens of ways the money being spent to elect and influence legislators, national and state, into a blanket endorsement of all guns, even those developed for military use, might be better spent to meet some of the real needs of American citizens.
The average American does not need a semi-automatic with dozens of rounds of firepower to protect his (or her) home. The average American needs safe bridges and highways without potholes big enough to roast an ox. He (or she) needs some sort of affordable health care and what politicians tell us is essential in the modern world, a financially secure educational system at all levels.
That would be money well spent.
Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send email to email@example.com.