There's not a lot seniors can do in the future battles over gun control. There's not a lot anyone can do about gun control. The National Rifle Association will fight with all its ammo against anything that would limit gun controls and the exercise of their Constitutionally mandated right to bear arms. The Supreme Court settled that in 2008 with its ruling.
Still, the court left nibble room at the 2nd Amendment. Yep, the feds could limit gun possession to felons, criminals and the mentally unstable. Nothing about seniors having guns. After all, few of the deranged have started shooting up senior centers - at least so far. And yep, the feds could outlaw such as assault weapons. And maybe fat magazine clips, for what legit hunter would want more than one or two shots at prey?
A confession of sorts. I'm a senior for gun control, naïve as that is. With 300 million guns around America, 80 million of them hand guns, control seems ludicrous. A luncheon senior friend of mine says he has 40 guns, some registered, and thinks I'm foolish not to have a couple tucked away. I suspect he thinks everybody should carry, the way he does.
Well, like most senior Midwesterners, I grew up with guns, the usual progression of BB, single-shot .22 rifle, 10-gauge and then 12-gauge shotgun (my father was a skeet shooter and had won national titles at Vandalia, Ohio). I hunted pheasant, rabbit and squirrel. And on graduation from college I went into the Air Force and at one point was range officers at Lowry AFB in Denver for a few months. I often fired a hundred rounds a day with the Colt .45 and became an expert, and smug about it.
One day I asked one of the NCOs who actually ran the range, what I should do if confronted by someone with a pistol 20 feet away with my .45 at my side.
"Throw your gun at him and run," he replied. He figured anything 20 feet or more and you safe from a hand gun. (I note that the FBI is changing its gun training routine from having agents train on a 50-foot range to a 10-foot one as that is the usual distance in a confrontation.)
One other thing about being range officer. I had to help with the annual antelope hunt on the 100-square-mile bombing range east of Denver. On the last day of the three-day event (you got to hunt if you were lucky in a drawing) an NCO and I rode around in a Jeep, checking for lost hunters. At one point, we saw a beautiful buck antelope standing on a nearby ridge.
"Something wrong," said the sergeant. He looked though glasses and passed them to me. I could see that the antelope had been wounded; his lower jaw was missing. The NCO took his long gun and shot the wounded antelope and we divided the spoils.
My last hunting event ever. No guns in my house.
Personal experience aside, seniors must take part in the upcoming national debate. We must close the loopholes of selling - without checking - assault weapons and big magazines. But the guns are already out there, and my gun-owning friend has vowed to fight if anyone tries to register or limit his armory.
We can move on mental health and guns, seniors. Let the courts decide if someone should not be trusted with guns. Let the ATF actually maintain a list of guns instead of being hampered by NRA inspired limits. Armed guards at schools sounds good but is impractical.
Yes, I'm for gun controls within the 2nd Amendment strictures. I'd like more but recognize the impossibility of them. So, seniors, make your voices heard, whatever you believe about gun controls. Do it without rancor, without shouting. Those 20 slain kids deserve better from us. Let the NRA ignore reality, guns and people kill people despite what the organization says.
And incidentally, back in early days of America when villages were small and everyone wanted to be safe, guns were tightly controlled, stored in village warehouses with gunpowder stored as well. Gun control isn't a new issue, it's just that we have sort of overwhelmed it.
As a spoiler, anyone figuring I'm unarmed better think again. I may have fibbed a little about guns in my house. You don't want to find out.
• Sam Bauman writes about senior affairs, among other things, for the Nevada Appeal.