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Common sense advice on gun control? Just ask mom

DeenBess Sherman

Deena Bess Sherman

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Updated: February 26, 2013 6:16AM

I grew up with guns. My family sold guns and hunting supplies for a living. I loved hunting and I miss having fresh venison for dinner.

I spent endless hours target practicing and was a very good shot, though I’m sure my mother was better. She not only hunted, but also worked as a security guard and had to prove her skill at the shooting range each year to keep the job.

Mom and I recently talked about the gun debate going on in this country. She wondered why people were talking about gun regulation as if it were a new thing. “Even back in the ‘70s we had to file paperwork on everyone who bought a gun,” she said. “For a pistol permit, there was fingerprinting.”

I reminded her that not all states have the same laws as New York (where she still lives). We agreed that there should be more uniformity from state to state and that records were necessary. I told her about the Firearm Owners Identification cards here in Illinois.

Like driving a car, gun ownership is not only a right, but also a responsibility. You don’t put someone behind the wheel of a car without disciplined instruction, practice, and testing. Nor should anyone be handed a gun without similar preparation.

When I was 14, I passed New York State’s hunter safety training course. It meant as much to me as passing my drivers test. I don’t want to share the road or share the woods with people who don’t pass such tests and know what they’re doing!

I personally believe that if you don’t have a criminal record or a medical diagnosis that could compromise your judgment if you went off your meds, then you should be able to own any guns you have been trained to use. While I’m not a fan of automatic weapons with big clips, I know veterans who are trained on them should be allowed to keep them in their personal collections.

When I voiced that opinion, my mom, a lifelong Republican and gun enthusiast, responded: “Now wait a minute, no one needs an automatic weapon that shoots 20 rounds! Shooting 10 is already overkill. If you can’t hit a deer in the first three shots, you need more target practice before you go hunting!

“The only use for that many rounds is killing a lot of people! If you want guns like that in your collection — fine — but the size of the magazine should be limited.”

I’ve always admired my mother’s common sense.

With conviction she continued: “Only crazy people think we’re going to have to shoot our way down the street in some wacky end-of-the-world scenario.”

Mom and I agree that the right path for our country lies in the middle ground between the extremes of those arming themselves for the zombie apocalypse and those who want to severely restrict personal gun ownership. We both want more consistency and enforcement of the existing laws. And we both acknowledge that unstable people who really want to kill others will find a way — whether it’s with guns, bombs, or a screwdriver.

We also agree that publishing the names of gun owners is a bad idea. In 1983 our western New York home was ransacked and robbed because someone knew we had a lot of valuable guns. It’s better if an intruder has to guess whether a homeowner might be better armed, might be at home, and might be a really good shot.

It’s time for us to discuss this issue like adults and use some common sense. There are very few people at the extremes of saying “no guns” and those preparing for full-out invasion. The rest of us should be able to read the Second amendment, know its history, and take note of words like “well regulated.” We can do this.

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