Gun control #045; or self control?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 29, 2004

It isn't about gun control - it's about responsibility.

Those who know me well are probably picking their jaws up off floor by now, since I am a gun control advocate (read control, not illegalization, please.) But even I have to concede a few points to the NRA members, and the biggest one of those is responsibility.

Is it responsible to shoot the beloved pets, or income producing livestock of other people?

Absolutely not.

Is it responsible to leave a gun out where a three-year-old can find it, and ultimately kill himself?

Hell, no.

I am terrified of guns and the destruction they leave in their wake. Gun advocates will tell me you can kill someone just as dead with a knife, a stick, even your fists, if you are so inclined. I know from more than 10 years reporting experience that a teenager's deadliest weapon is not a gun, but an automobile. Nonetheless, how many people would have died at Columbine if those boys had only had knives or sticks?

Despite my fear and dislike of guns - any weaponry, really - I will never be one to call for their immediate confiscation and disposal. When I was in high school, I dated a boy whose family went without meat for the winter if his dad didn't get a deer in the fall. They were country folk, too proud for welfare, too broke for Krogers. I got over the Bambi fixation that year.

I don't and won't own a gun myself for three reasons. One, I don't hunt. Two, I have three very inquisitive sons who like to see how things work. They're dangerous enough with a microwave oven and Legos, the last thing they need is something loaded with gunpowder.

Three, I fear my own temper more than any burglar. I am the Queen of Road Rage and if I carried a gun in the car, every idiot who cut me off on the Square while talking on her cell phone would be staring at the bullet-riddled tires of her SUV right now.

When the oldest was born, I was going to do the whole green-thing, with cloth diapers, homemade baby food and NO TOY GUNS. The diaper issue lasted until Scott started solid food. The homemade food never got out of the blender, and the ban on toy guns lasted until the first time my oldest, at the age of 2, wrapped a rubber band around two Popsicle sticks in the form of a gun and said "Bang!"

And even though I won't allow my boys to have guns until they are on their own (and paying their own medical insurance), I will insist they have NRA approved gun safety classes.

At some point in their life, they are going to be around guns, willingly or unwillingly, and I will not sacrifice them on the altar of self-righteous ignorance. They will know how to load and unload, assemble and disassemble, how to put the safety one, and above all - how to be responsible.

Even as I expect the pistol-packin' NRA

member to respect my right to the freedom of speech, I'm going to expect his right to bear arms - responsibly.