I can remember walking with my dad in the cornfields of Iowa watching him use his shotgun during pheasant season. Being 7 or 8 years old, longing for the time when I could carry my own shotgun waiting for the rooster to flush. At 12 years old I was given a 410 shotgun that had been handed down from my grandfather, to my dad, and now it was my turn. That gun is still on display in our home and was used by our two boys when they were introduced to dove hunting, Arizona style.
This episode began a lifelong passion of hunting which began as a boy in pursuit of small game that developed into the thrill of big game hunting in the wide open spaces of the West. This story no doubt has been repeated thousands upon thousands of times throughout our great country which very much could be considered a “right of passage” in many families.
At the age of 14, a new 20 gauge pump JC Higgins shotgun was under our Christmas tree for a young man that had proven his firearms safety skills in the field the previous two years. There were many duck and pheasant hunts where that shotgun showed its prowess. The fall was the best time of year when eighth and ninth grade football was the highlight of my school activity and then the weekends were spent in the field hunting with my friends. They were teammates on the gridiron, on the mat, and on the baseball field, and on the weekends we were allowed to hunt small game together.
That 20 gauge continued to make family hunting memories when our boys hunted quail in the desert or turkeys in the timber country under the Rim. That old shotgun has as many scratches as it has memories of boys becoming men hunting with family and friends.
Firearms and hunting game just seemed a part of growing up as I think was the case in most places in our country that had farmland, timber, or wide open spaces of the West. Consequently most families had someplace in their home for safe keeping of their shotguns, rifles, and pistols.
As an aging outdoorsman who still has a passion for hunting and the owner of many more than one firearm, the political noise about gun ownership alarms me. There was a joy and excitement of hunting in my youth that I want to see future generations have that same opportunity. I never saw a need to make a statement about firearm ownership because it was just the norm. What I mean by this is fall was hunting season and it was time to go to the range, sharpen your shooting eye, and get ready for whatever hunting season was next on the calendar.
Gun ownership seems to have become one of the issues of all the 2020 offices coming up for election!
If my understanding of that precious document called the Bill of Rights is correct, the Second Amendment says it all.
The Second Amendment states that “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
Being an American history teacher for over 40 years, I grew to understand how well thought out the framework of government created by our Founding Fathers, the U.S. Constitution really was. The chief author, James Madison put in writing a working governing plan which has proven over time to be the best governing policy in the world and copied by many.
Thomas Jefferson persuaded Madison to write the addendum document called the Bill of Rights which guaranteed numerous personal liberties should not be infringed upon by this new democratic-republic. Initially Madison thought it was not necessary to write these freedoms in a document because he believed it would be assumed people have these individual liberties. Aren’t you glad they wrote them down as the Bill of Rights!
It appears that our traditional American values that have transcended generations of integrity, personal responsibility, and the Judeo-Christian moral compass are now under attack. These values are the bedrock of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
When any of these individual liberties begin to be chipped away, there is a slippery slope which accelerates the process. I am concerned for the Second Amendment and our freedom to keep and bear arms. Before you cast a ballot in 2020 it would be wise to know where your candidates stand on the Second Amendment.
Dennis Pirch retired after 41 years as a U.S. government-American history teacher and was a former recipient of National High School Wrestling Coach of the Year.