The past few weeks there has been an unending stream of news items and posts about the “evil of firearms”. Firearms are little appreciated these days for several reasons:
- criminals often use firearms and have committed some outrageous acts,
- most citizens in North America now live in cities where there is little space for using firearms, and
- Hollywood and TV networks rarely miss an opportunity to show examples of killing by means of firearms.
These may well be real and sufficient reasons not to love firearms but there are many facets of firearms which should be appreciated:
- Firearms are a great equalizer. A tiny woman can defend herself against a big strong bad guy using a firearm. That’s a good thing. Imagine how the Taliban in Afghanistan would respect women more if the women packed rifles… Imagine what might have happened if this mother had not had a firearm and a husband who taught her how to use it.
A firearm in the hands of a teacher or guard can neutralize an intruder like the one in NewTown.
- Firearms can help feed a family. City dwellers who shop at Safeway may not appreciate that folks in rural areas may have to spend hours and $hundreds just to get to Safeway. They often grow their own food and hunt/gather food. A firearm is very useful for shooting deer, rabbits and game-birds. When I was a boy, I hunted and trapped daily to supply my family with rabbits in addition to the usual chores on a farm. In Manitoba, thousands of deer are killed for food each year. Hunters with firearms also replace predators in the ecosystem without which deer would reproduce to nuisance-numbers in a few years. In no-hunting zones, deer stop traffic and devour gardens. Manitoba Natural Resources sets the availability of deer licences by the number of deer-vehicle collisions which are costly and dangerous to humans and surveys of hunters. There isn’t any good way to limit the numbers of deer except shooting them. Hunting with bow and arrow is much more time-consuming and takes much more effort.
- Firearms are a work of art. Folks who appreciate fine painting may not appreciate that firearms made in the last century were made by skilled craftsmen now replaced by robots… Stocks were of carved wood aged and finished to perfection. Rifles were made of steel machined to perfection. Firearms are durable goods passed on for generations. They are one of the few purchases a consumer can buy which actually increase in value.
Many older firearms produced for war made inexpensive hunter’s tools. A rifle like the one above may have cost less than $50 years ago but now is worth $hundreds. It can be used in bush with a heavy round-nosed bullet for deer up to 200 yards and in the open with a medium-weight bullet for deer up to 350 yards without adjusting sites or more if the range is known. The rifle and ammunition were designed in 1896 and combine German and Swedish craftsmanship.
- To many a firearm is a killing machine as seen on TV… Most have no understanding of the technology and all the components and mechanisms involved. The reason firearms are so effective combine the technology of steel, machining, metallurgy, rifling, chemistry, physics and dense bullets that fly in the direction of the barrel with or without spin-stabilization. It’s far more than a loud noise and someone dropping dead. Understanding the technology is important for safety even for non-shooters. Hunter safety training has saved a lot of lives simply by reducing the number of accidents. Having a population of shooters around increases safety in normal use and in confrontations with criminals. Many hunting/shooting organizations and governments appreciate this and provide a valuable service protecting society from the dangers of firearms. Responsible firearms owners are not the problem and neither are firearms.
- Firearms are enjoyable if used properly. The last time I went shooting, I met a family who were taking a boy out to shoot with his own firearm the first time. It brought back fond memories. Parents should teach youngsters about firearms, how to be safe around them and how to take care of them. Millions of good people enjoy using firearms to put holes in paper. Many spend more on shooting sports than on automobiles. The Original Pennsylvania 1000 Yard shooting club record shooters putting ten shots into a circle less than a foot in size at 1000 yards. Here’s one group of ten shots only a few inches in size… That takes skill and good equipment, some things to be appreciated. Even when whether is horrible, firearms owners can spend enjoyable time making great ammunition for their firearms. Custom-made ammunition may save the shooter a lot of money and produce better results.
My wife does not enjoy shooting but I did take her shooting a few times. She beat all the men shooting a tiny group at 100 yards. We were all amused by her style but she was very competitive, had great vision and shot a one-hole group. She appreciates that I and our children value firearms and use them properly. She loved the venison steaks…