By Connor Retell
The trip to the gun range, silly as it sounds, was a wake up call for me. It gave me the opportunity to step out of my cute little bubble and do something that I might not otherwise experience. So I did it, yet very little about my opinion changed. In fact, it made me less sympathetic toward gun advocates (as cruel as that sounds). Let me explain.
I grew up in a house with conservative parents, and “rural country” was only a ten minute drive away, so one might think I have extensive knowledge or experience with guns. In reality, the closest I’ve been to a gun are the faint shots I can hear fired at the shooting range a mere mile from my home. Though my dad is very conservative and a Second Amendment supporter, he has never owned a gun. His protection from home invasion is his high school baseball bat. Louisville Slugger, I think.
My mom is much too uncomfortable with guns to even contemplate having one in the home. Furthermore, the rural country has never played a big role in my adolescence. I spent far more (if not all) of my childhood closer to downtown Buffalo playing or watching sports.
Since my interest in politics started in the early days of high school, gun control has become one of my top priorities in any candidate seeking my vote. I do not understand guns, I do not like them, and I do not believe that they have a place in our society. That is my honest truth.
But in taking this trip to the gun range, I have started my quest to better comprehend why others are so compelled by guns. Going into the experience, I truly expected to be taken aback by the sheer power and awesomeness of such weapons. Instead, all I really noticed while shooting was the constant thought that under no circumstances should a gun be in the hands of a typical citizen. I trust myself to be safe and rational more than anyone else, yet my fear was still off the charts when I held the gun in my hand.
As I became more comfortable and the jitters, nerves, and butterflies dissipated, that thought never left my head. I kept saying, “How does anyone find this fun? How can such raw power and strength be granted to anyone with the ability to drive to a gun show?”
Admittedly, what I am neglecting here are the millions of responsible gun owners who thoroughly enjoy their guns. These people believe in guns as sport, protection, or constitutional right, and I wish like hell that I could give them a pass. Unfortunately, this is very much a collective action problem — similar to that of the environment and COVID-19. If one person is not pulling their weight, or in this case decides to misuse their weapon against the public interest, it hurts everyone.
Thus, I cannot justify gun ownership on a mass level, and the gun range field trip failed to change my mind through personal experience. Importantly, I remain open to learning more about gun culture and change my attitude toward guns (even if only a little bit).