Common sense, safety should govern how we talk about, use firearms

Letters to the Editor:

Posted: Monday, March 26, 2001

Most who have spent any amount of time afield or along a firing line develop a sort of sense about people they feel safe around and will continue to join in hunting or shooting activities.

They are people who understand common courtesy, exhibit self control, are respectful of others, and instinctively practice safe gun handling. They have a keen understanding that the things they hold in their hands are not to be pointed at anything they don't want to shoot or kill.

Most wouldn't dream of joking, much less threatening, to shoot someone else along the firing line or to blow someone's head off while hunting. That kind of talk would quickly leave them friendless.

If that behavior isn't acceptable among people who routinely carry firearms, it certainly should not be so in our schools. Students, parents and staff are absolutely right to take every single gun threat as a serious threat.

There may be some political instinct out there that makes us worry that this sort of concern could go too far. A fear that might make us worry we will raise a generation of gun-fearing students, afraid to utter a gun-related word.

It's OK to talk about guns. The football team won't have to eliminate its "shotgun" formation. The basketball team won't have to stop talking about its "big guns" outside the three-point line. It's still OK for the rifle team to talk about ballistics in public. It's OK to use firearms for any of dozens of legitimate purposes. It is good to learn gun safety even if you don't own a firearm of your own.

The message is it's not OK to go around telling people we're going to shoot them anymore than it's OK to go around pointing a gun at them.

Seems like common sense.

Thinking back to younger days, it's easy to recall the fear of being identified by peers as a rat or tattletale. Talking to a teacher or administrator about threats made by a fellow student is a tough thing to do -- especially if you know that student is going to get into trouble. But it has to be done. There is no place for that kind of talk, especially given recent national events.

If it's OK for experienced shootists to show concern over such talk, certainly it's OK for students to have equal, or greater, concern.

-- Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

March 21



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