How I sorted through my feelings about gun safety…with a gun.
Resting my already tired legs after two hours of working in a stuffed warehouse, I built up the courage to grab my phone from my bag and began to type:
“Hi Matthew, I know we talked briefly but I’m here for the summer and was wondering if there was a day or weekend or something this summer you could teach me more about guns, gun safety, shooting, etc?”
Only having ten minutes for my break, I go back to work with no reply. But I keep my phone near me in case he texts back. Thirty-four minutes later, my cousin does:
“Absolutely! I’m honestly thrilled to know that you want to learn more about them!”
Almost a month later, our calendar and schedules aligned, and I’m able to go to his house before we do anything further. Matt and I go through each component of a gun, the different types of safeties ?external and internal? the difference between concealed and open carry, the type of holsters and how they fit a specific type of gun, and briefly through the laws of New York regarding different types of guns.
In New York State, any person above the age of twenty-one can purchase a gun after they receive a permit and pass a lengthy background check, at the discretion of law enforcement or except in the cases of private transactions. In cases where a gun is stolen or lost, someone must report it to the police.
In 2013 after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, New York passed the SAFE Act, which banned all assault-style weapons, except for those considered antique or purchased before January 2013. In those circumstances, individuals would have to register their assault weapons.
Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz was not from New York and was legally able to purchase and own an AR-15 in his home state of Florida where he went to his high school and killed seventeen people, leaving seventeen more injured.
The instructions were over and it was time for me to get a hands-on experience. Sitting in the back of my cousin’s truck, nervousness and excitement stirred and my mind couldn’t stop cycling through all the different reasons I wanted to shoot for the first time. I didn’t want to be influenced by my pro-gun family about why guns shouldn’t have restrictions, but I didn’t want the anti-gun talk from my college overrun my opinions. I needed to form my views with proper education about guns and gun safety; I didn’t want to jump to any conclusion.
After going over the rules about how to safely and properly hold a gun one last time, my cousin handed me a .22 caliber rifle, the metal cool against my sweaty palm; I placed the protective headphones over my ears and lined up the gun. I took a deep breath and BAM. I had just taken my first shot.
My cousin walked over to me.
“How did that feel?”
I had no words; all I could do was smile.
“Do you want to go again with more rounds?” he asked, proudness marked in the corners of his smile.
I excitedly nodded my head and Matt laughed, filling up the gun with more bullets.
“Just try to aim for the paper. Don’t worry about hitting the black center,” he said.
Five minutes later we took a look at the paper target, thirteen out of nineteen shots were in the black small circle in the center of the target.
“Are you sure this is your first time shooting?” Matt asked.
In recent years and in the wake of several mass shooting, gun control has become an increasingly partisan issue.
“Republicans and Democrats have stark, fundamental differences of questions relating to the causes of gun violence ? and even whether gun violence is a serious problem in the country,” according to a survey at the Pew Research Center.
In response to Cruz’s shooting, gun control advocates push for bipartisan support on universal background checks, mandatory reports of lost or theft, smart policing, restriction of gun purchases for people with risky behavior and improvement of health care for mental illness.
The purpose of the Second Amendment right is to protect the people against government tyranny as well as from others who wish to do harm. Before I went shooting with my thirty-year-old cousin, I was anti-gun. After I experienced my first round, I was pro-gun. But seeing the violence and destruction, I believe in our Second Amendment right to bear arms with regulations to prevent future aggressive events.
New York already fulfills some of the advocate’s demands. Perhaps change comes from other states and New York acting on the areas their laws lack in. Gun control doesn’t mean creating new systems or putting in place impossible processes for gun purchases. But control means preventing people with ill-intent to own guns and cause more harm.
Kimberly Caceci is second year Writing Major who just bought a holster on ebay. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.