Darrell Berkheimer: Adding common sense to owning guns | TheUnion.com

Darrell Berkheimer: Adding common sense to owning guns

Darrell Berkheimer

Whatever happened to the idea of approaching an issue with the use of common sense?

I'm a gun owner; and have been for more than 60 years. I was a teenager when my father helped me acquire my first gun — a single-shot .410 shotgun. I wanted it so I could hunt pheasants with my dad, uncles and cousins; and to hunt the eastern gray squirrels that roamed a grove of big old oak trees behind my grandparents' Pennsylvania farm.

I also remember how my dad, before allowing me to handle that first gun, emphasized — or perhaps preached would be the better word — on how a gun should be handled — always with proper safety in mind. And he cited the importance of locking ammunition in a separate location.

It was just a part of my dad showing me how to enjoy the outdoors — including fishing, and simply strolling through mountain woodlands and meadows to experience nature and see animals in their natural habitat.

A few years later, I bought my first deer rifle — an old 30-40 Krag, to which I added a side-mounted scope. I later traded it for a 30-06 with scope.

As I grew older, I bought a 12-gauge shotgun, and then a .22 Hornet for hunting groundhogs. Later I acquired a .22 rimfire rifle, a 25-06 rifle, a .22 revolver, and a little 25 caliber semi-automatic pistol. I also had to have a BB gun for chasing away crows and squirrels.

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At one time I owned a total of 10 guns, including my dad's 30-30 rifle. I still own three — my Dad's rifle, the revolver and the BB gun. I sold the others because I was no longer using them — not for hunting or even target practice. They were just gathering dust. The remaining three I keep partly because of sentimental value and partly so I can go "plinking" again should the spirit move me.

I recount all of that for a purpose — to underline that I am not an "anti-gun" advocate.

When I was younger, I also was a member of the National Rifle Association — because it was an informative organization on hunting as well as guns. Unfortunately, the NRA lost its proper direction when it moved from gun use safety and hunting information to serving the greedy gun sales industry with its political activism. The executives in that industry don't care who gets killed. They only care about the bottom line of sales income.

I remain a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, but we must emphasize the common sense issues involved in gun ownership. Guns should be considered merely as tools — for hunting, target shooting, marksman competition and defense.

In many ways, the use of guns can and should be equated to the use of a car or truck — just as a couple other writers in The Union indicated. As they noted, both guns and autos are highly dangerous tools when not used properly.

So it makes sense to require youths, at about age 13 or 14, to pass a gun safety certification test before being allowed to use a gun — with adult guidance.

In contrast, I don't agree with raising the age of legal ownership to 21. If the age for voting and serving in the military is 18, then that also is an appropriate age for gun ownership. Nor do I agree with requiring registration for weapons designed for hunting.

But I have no problem with requiring the registration of handguns using center-fire cartridges. And comprehensive background checks also should be required to ensure that guns will be owned by responsible users — just as the laws require auto insurance for the responsible use of vehicles.

And military style weapons are not sporting arms. They are weapons designed only for killing people — as many and as quickly as possible. So their ownership should, by law, be limited to only those citizens serving in the various arms of our military.

These are all common sense measures that do not in any way usurp our right to keep and bear arms. Let's take a look at the exact wording of the Second Amendment. It states:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of the State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Too often, the wording of "a well regulated Militia" is overlooked. And each state has its own National Guard to fulfill that part of the amendment. Our average citizen is not a member of a well regulated militia — unless he or she is serving as a member of one of our armed services.

So the right of our citizens to keep and bear arms is continued — with the right of citizens to bear military style weapons when serving in federal or state militias, and the right to own and use personal defense and sporting arms when not serving with any of the armed forces.

According to our national polls on these issues, plus what I read and hear from our citizens, these are common sense measures that would meet with approval from the vast majority of our voters and gun owners.

That definitely includes our soon-to-be new voters who are participating in marches throughout our nation — to save lives. They have had enough of the senseless killing; and they plan to end the terms of Congress members who fail to take common sense actions.

Darrell Berkheimer, who lives in Grass Valley, is a frequent contributor to The Union. He is the author of five books available through Amazon. Contact him at mtmrnut@yahoo.com.