‘America Grew Up with a Rifle in its Hand’

[Editor’s Note: Once upon a time gun racks were a common staple inside every other pickup truck. The menacing specter of active shooters and mass shootings that so haunts the American psyche today seemed as distant and foreign as an invasion from mars. As the article below suggests, a right of passage for many boys growing up in rural or semi-rural America includes owning a firearm, which is used for target practice and even hunting small game, if their family’s are so inclined.

This author recalls how special it was to acquire his first BB gun at age 10 (a Daisy!), and a few years later a 22 caliber rifle. The rudiments of gun safety were emphasized, and I cannot recall any shooting accidents in our community, much less willful intent to harm, that resulted in even minor firearm injuries. Fast forward 40 years. Although mass shooting fatalities today constitute a very small fraction of the overall murder rate, and violent crime in the US is considerably lower than it was 30 years ago, major media propagandize mass casualty events to such a degree vis-a-vis political leaders’ pronouncements that it is difficult not to conclude there’s much more going here than meets the eye.]

Gun Clubs at Schools

(Versus Today’s ‘Zero Tolerance’ Policies)

Charles C.W. Cooke
National Review
(January 21, 2013)

Once upon a time, it was common for an American child to be packed off to school with a rifle on his back and for him to come home smiling and safe in the evening. Shooting clubs, now quietly withering away, were once such a mainstay of American high-school life that in the first half of the 20th century they were regularly installed in the basements of new educational buildings. Now, they are in their death throes, victims of political correctness, a willful misunderstanding of what constitutes “gun safety,” and our deplorable tendency toward litigiousness.

In 1975, New York state had over 80 school districts with rifle teams. In 1984, that had dropped to 65. By 1999 there were just 26. The state’s annual riflery championship was shut down in 1986 for lack of demand. This, sadly, is a familiar story across the country. The clubs are fading from memory, too. A Chicago Tribune report from 2007 notes the astonishment of a Wisconsin mother who discovered that her children’s school had a range on site. “I was surprised, because I never would have suspected to have something like that in my child’s school,” she told the Tribune. The district’s superintendent admitted that it was now a rarity, confessing that he “often gets raised eyebrows” if he mentions the range to other educators. The astonished mother raised her eyebrows — and then led a fight to have the range closed. “Guns and school don’t mix,” she averred. “If you have guns in school, that does away with the whole zero-tolerance policy.”

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One thought on “‘America Grew Up with a Rifle in its Hand’”

  1. When our son was 8 or 9, my husband had him sit through the two-day, 10-hour California Hunter Safety Course with him (his dad). Whadda know? Kid passed the 100 question test with flying colors. When they’d go to the range, Matt listened to the Range Master carefully, and always followed all instructions. We kept our guns in a safe, but we didn’t have to worry about Matt. He’s almost 22 now, proficient with a firearm (not bad for a city kid), and has never used his carelessly.

    Guns are tools: they are neither moral nor immoral.

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