It’s perfectly fine to be on the fence about guns. It’s also perfectly fine to enjoy shooting them while still remembering the trauma of having been shot.

The key difference is identifying the differences between the two events. Because even though both involved a firearm, they were entirely different.

You wanted to hunt feral hogs, which is a good thing considering how destructive they are. You wound up shooting beer cans instead. You were with a friend.

Your injury was the result of a crime. You became a victim and that is always traumatizing. I can’t imagine that anyone would not be upset by that — with absolute justification. But you weren’t the victim of a gun; you were the victim of a criminal. It’s no different than being stabbed by an unknown assailant for no apparent reason. In either case, there would have been an injury and you wouldn’t know why it happened to you.

You mentioned the Parkland shooting. Why that one in particular? Why not talk about the more recent shooting in Santa Fe, Texas? That was carried out with a 12-gauge Remington 870 pump shotgun and a .38-caliber Rossi revolver. There were 23 casualties in that incident. While the AR-15 used by Nikolas Cruz at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is similar in appearance to a military rifle, the Remington 870 is a military shotgun, the M870 used by the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Air Force.

How would you and your grandfather feel about an M1 Carbine? It is a semi-automatic rifle capable of being equipped with a folding stock, a pistol grip, a muzzle flash hider, a bayonet and can accept up to 30-round magazines.

How about an M1 Garand? Every one that was ever made was designed to accept a bayonet. It has only an 8-round capacity but it’s clip-fed and can be more quickly reloaded than an AR-15. In addition, it fires a far more powerful round than the AR-15. The U.S. government sold hundreds of thousands of these actual battle rifles to civilians in the years following World War II and Korea. In fact, it offered thousands more of them this year.

About raising the age to purchase to 21, consider this: Nikolas Cruz is the only person under 21 ever to use a legally purchased AR-15 to commit a mass shooting in the 54 years since Colt introduced it to the civilian market.

Only one other person under 21 has used a legally purchased military-style rifle in a mass shooting since 1964. That was Dean Mellburg, an ex-airman who used an AK-47-style rifle in a mass shooting at Fairchild AFB in 1994.

Also consider that Cruz was enabled, not by the AR-15 or Smith & Wesson or Sunrise Tactical. He was enabled by the diversion policy of the Broward County School District, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and the two-time failure of the FBI to forward information about Cruz to its Miami field office or to the BCSO.

Cruz’s history of violent behavior should have seen him in jail on February 14 instead of at the school. At the very least, there would have been information in the FBI’s NICS database that would have prevented the sale, not only of the Smith & Wesson M&P-15, but the seven other guns, including an AK-47-style rifle, that Cruz had also bought.

This isn’t a challenge or a rant about gun rights, the NRA or anything else.

What it is is a suggestion that you consider your own scary boogeyman but perhaps eschew being afraid of someone else’s.

Do not succumb to the popular meme that you have to feel a certain way. You’re an adult; you get to make your own judgements.

I have had two near misses in my life. While I did escape injury, I will never forget the sound of the bullet whizzing by or the shattering of the vent window glass in my truck.

Yet, to this day, I still like guns and enjoy shooting. My wife and three of my four children are gun owners and all of them have fired guns at a range.

Never forget it’s also a valid choice to enjoy the conversation and the camaraderie even if your future shooting is limited to beer cans or paper targets or even if you don’t ever hold a firearm again.

You’re an adult and there are much better things to drink than Kool-Aid.

Professional writer. Passionately interested in facts. Founder of onewordtexas.org

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