By Chris Barts
We live in a culture very much immersed in the gun. We use them to hunt, to target shoot, and, if necessary, to repel criminals and fight wars.
Our very freedom is based upon the fact that, in the 1700s, the average male in the original thirteen colonies was skilled in the use of a muzzle-loading long gun. We have fought one civil war, two world wars, and innumerable other conflicts with the gun being the basic weapon used by the average soldier in the field.
We owe everything we have to a populace skilled in the art of the gun.
Notice that it was the populace, the average people, who were skilled. Those people hunted and defended themselves and their families with guns. They had to have the gun to survive in a young nation inching its way into the great western unknown, from the time when that unknown was to become Ohio to when it was to become Alaska or Montana. The average person skilled enough to use a basic rifle and, eventually, handgun brought this young nation forth from thirteen struggling colonies to the world's greatest superpower.
Those people had the advantage of being brought up around guns, learning to hunt with them as soon as they were old enough to handle one safely. These people really had no choice in the matter. They hunted well enough to put game in the cook pots or they went hungry. They aimed well enough to kill aggressive wildlife or they were themselves killed.
We have come a long way from our frontiersman past, but in some ways life is just as dangerous.
This country has gangs in the streets and serial killers right next door. The events of the past century, from Ted Bundy and Charles Manson to Eric Harris and Albert DeSalvo, we now know all too well that having, and being able to safely use, a gun just might save one's life. But any criminal can be dangerous. The average burglar could be carrying an illegally purchased gun. In that case, the only way to safely defend yourself and your family is to know how to use a gun.
But guns aren't just for defense. Hunting is a fun sport and a safe one if done correctly. It teaches responsibility, respect for the natural habitat and wildlife in general, self-respect and self-reliance, respect for one's fellow man as well as laws and regulations, and how to have a healthy good time in the great outdoors. For all of the self-defense, plus the ones just mentioned in this paragraph, all public schools should be required to teach hunter's safety in the high school years.
These courses would not be expensive to the taxpayer, as the sale of tags and weapons provides money for courses such as these, as well as hunting-related services. These courses, because they teach things like how to survive as well as weapon usage and hunting skills, would have wide application.
And they could save lives.