Everyone is weighing in on the killing spree indulged in by an emotionally disturbed young man who was seething at the fact that women were rejecting him and choosing others. Since he was good-looking (at least from the photos) one can only surmise that his personality gave clues to women that they should steer clear of him.
What again is at issue is that he was able to obtain guns so easily. It is not clear that a background check would have prohibited him from getting one since he seems to have led a normal life but what bothers me, as I have said time and time again, is that people can get guns without having to undergo any training in their safe use.
Tbogg comes from a family of hunters and he describes what he had to go through before he was allowed to use one.
When I was eight, I attended gun safety courses put on by the NRA at the local community center where thick-necked men with serious faces and butch haircuts promised us hell and worse if we mishandled a rifle or a shotgun. There was no Eddie Eagle cartoon character who spent his time talking about the 2nd amendment because the important thing was to learn not to shoot yourself or someone else. It was serious people teaching the next generation how to safely hunt and not just how to shoot.
I waited another year before I was actually allowed to carry a shotgun, serving instead an apprenticeship in the field, walking and watching and learning and carrying the kill in the back of my new hunting vest
When the time came, I was given a .410 single-barreled shotgun by my uncle and spent days at a shooting range learning how to lead and squeeze.
But then the old-time hunters noticed a new breed of people joining them.
As I grew older I began to notice a different breed of hunter; men who showed up with multiple shotguns as if they were golf clubs needed for specific shots. While most of us wore jeans, t-shirts and hunting vests, these newcomers dressed like they were going on safari, wearing bush hats, shooting jackets (in the 100 degree heat), and cargo pants with more pockets than there existed implements to fill them. You would see them walking the fields; shotgun draped over one arm, can of beer in the other hand. We learned to stay away from them.
For these men hunting was a manhood thing, a way to get in touch with their alpha male, a way to prove they weren’t soft city dwellers and what better way to do that than to get together with some buddies and shoot some guns at whatever moved.
It was no coincidence that, at this same time (this being early seventies), the NRA changed their focus from hunting programs to promoting gun ownership and defending the 2nd Amendment from imaginary enemies.
He said hunting became more and more dangerous because of these people wandering around and the last straw came when one of these newbies fired a gun at a bird on the ground (violating a major rule that you only shoot at birds that are flying) almost killing their family dog Candy.
It was deathly quiet afterwards as everyone looked at him, stunned by what he had done.
My father quickly walked over to him, cursing all the way, grabbed the shotgun out of his hands by grabbing it by the barrel — no doubt burning his hands — and broke it open ejecting the spent shells. He then threw it end over end into the field. As my father berated him, using words I wasn’t well acquainted with at the time with but have learned to love since then, the hunter (known in family lore now as “The Great White Hunter”). His friends looked away and shuffled their feet, no one daring to come to his defense. I have no doubt, even to his day, had the man shot and killed Candy my father would have shot him if he’d had a loaded shotgun in his hand.
The point of training people how to use a lethal weapon before they are allowed to possess one is more than just safety. It is that training instills a sense of discipline and separates serious gun users from the dilettantes, people who want to own guns to somehow convince themselves that they are tough or defend themselves from imaginary enemies. The latter are often just waiting for a chance to use their guns to prove they were right to get them. They are unlikely to have the patience to go through rigorous training..
Such training will not eliminate these kinds of random killings altogether, as we witness from the occasional rampages by military people. But it may save us from the disturbed people who seek violent revenge for the kinds of real and perceived slights all of us experience as part of our normal lives. I don’t know what it will take to counter the NRA’s currently crazy policies but I suspect it will have to start with a revolt against their current leadership from within the gun-owning community.