I am writing in response to the April 24 column Growing Concerns by Martha Erickson, “Little boy’s obsession with guns is prime time to teach family values.”
As a child, I spent a great deal of time at my grandfather’s farm. I also showed a great deal of interest in the guns used on the farm.
The .22 rifle used to control pests and groundhogs was also used at butchering time. Sometimes my uncle Bob would take me out back and set up targets. He then would teach me to safely handle, operate and shoot the rifle. This was a fun time with my uncle.
In the article Erickson says that guns hurt people, but so do tools, machinery and automobiles if not properly used for their intended purpose. The hurt is in the intention of an individual.
It seems to me that firearms are a part of a rural farm community and useful tools and a source of recreation.
Curiosity about firearms (guns) should not be suppressed but seen as an opportunity to sit down with a child and explain how they work and to explain the potential danger of using them improperly, without the supervision of a knowledgeable adult. Proper safe storage to keep them out of reach of children and careless adults is also important.
Guns need not be associated with violence. Also explain the reality of using guns in real situations and that the things children see on television are not the way guns should ever be used.
I have owned guns since I was 10 and not one of my guns at my hand has ever hurt or caused injury to a single human being, but have provided me a lifetime of recreation and enjoyment. I am now 61.
Dennis M. Earl
(Dennis Earl is a hunter education instructor.)