Letter: Education is solution to gun violence


I have a proposed solution that is a little outside the box thinking regarding firearms. My crusade is to “educate, not legislate” where firearms are concerned.

I recall as a youth growing up in the upper Midwest, and that at around age 10-12 we went to a series of gun safety classes at the local VFW, American Legion, or a similar venue. These classes allowed the youth to better understand actual firearms versus what they were shown at the movies or on TV. This led to a respect for firearms, something that is totally missing the last couple generations. The rash of mass shootings has really spiked since youth firearms training has declined over the last few decades.

Between federal and state constitutions and codes, there are ample gun laws in place to keep the honest people honest. The problem is that those hell-bent on causing harm are not the honest citizens. Rather, those committing the criminal acts suffer from substance abuse or are in the throes of a mental health crisis. The point is, the gun isn’t committing the irrational act; the soul behind the gun is. So, the calls to increase background checks, limit magazine capacity, fill imaginary loopholes, blame the firearms industry, etc., will not cure the issue. However, firearm safety education may have a positive impact.

Say what you will about the NRA, but that organization has a very effective training program available along with a cadre of dedicated unpaid instructors willing to give their time to educate anyone who asks about firearm safety. They created the Eddie Eagle Program for elementary age children, and have courses available for all ages in all firearm disciplines. There is also The Appleseed Project, a national gun safety program that includes some American history. Black Guns Matter is an inner-city firearms program created by and primarily aimed at African-Americans. One goal of both Armed Women of America and The DC Project is to empower women through firearm education. My wife and I instruct classes at our local gun range, actually showing the students what they learn from movies, TV, the media and the uneducated is simply not true. I’m sure that other ranges provide similar opportunities.

In conclusion, let’s quit vilifying firearms themselves, firearm related companies and anyone associated with firearms. Let’s start truly using the existing laws and systems already on the books to allow for safer gun ownership. Let’s get back to educating the public so that they have an understanding and respect for firearms. That will require folks to quit condemning firearms and instead suggest persons seek the educational programs available. Finally, noting the upward trends in firearm sales I would recommend those individuals seek training in safe use of those arms.

Gary Raster

Oak Harbor