Gun rights come with an equal responsibility

Jan 10, 2013

The recent massacre of young school children in Newtown, Connecticut, has lead to a nationwide run on guns, especially the semi-automatic assault-type of weapons such as those used in recent mass shootings.

The slaughter of innocent victims not only at the elementary school, but in a crowded movie theater in Colorado, stirred new conversations about guns in America — who should be able to buy them where, how much and what kind of arms and ammo should be available and so on.

In Haywood, that means suppliers have limited supplies of assault-type weapons because of the high demand.

The conversations alone have sparked speculation that laws may change, and many believe now is the last chance to find a weapon of their choice.

The result is there are a lot of first-time gun owners among us — many of whom don’t know the first thing about guns or gun safety. That’s why a community service being offered by local businessman Robert MacCargar is such a valuable one. MacCargar is one of more than half a dozen certified instructors in the county who routinely offers training in basic gun safety and the required training needed to obtain a concealed carry permit.

At the end of the month, MacCargar is offering several courses where he’s waiving the instructor fee, and instead asking participants to make a comparable donation to KARE, an organization dedicated to helping children in our community.

“There’s a firearm panic, and a lot of people are just running out and buying guns,” MacCargar said.

Just as important as the right to buy a gun is the ability to safely use the weapon, he stressed.

How true. For as much publicity as the mass killings generate, there are far more gun deaths in America that result from accidental and other shootings.

Last October, Reuters Health reported that the American Academy of Pediatrics  called for the strictest possible regulation of gun sales, as well as more education for parents on the dangers of having a gun at home, to prevent deaths of kids and teens. The organization found between 11 and 12 of every 100,000 older teens were being killed every year by gunshots. About two-thirds of those were homicides, with suicides and accidental deaths accounting for the rest. Guns were used in almost 85 percent of all teen homicides in 2009.

For new gun owners, even those who aren’t interested in obtaining a concealed carry permit, taking a basic gun safety course is just common sense. There are plenty of places to do so, but signing up for the January classes offered by MacCargar will have the added benefit of helping a key nonprofit organization in our community.

We don’t foresee this nation taking action to deprive its citizens of the right to bear arms. However, it is up to those who choose to exercise this right to assure the safety within their own environment. Very few things could be more important at such a crucial time in our society.