By Dan Pool
I grew up in Pickens County when it was fully a rural county and needless to say guns were pretty common. One of our former reporters tells of a kid who got a new shotgun for Christmas and brought it to high school to show it off in the parking lot. The teachers two decades ago agreed it was a good looking 12 gauge, nothing more. Today that situation would have ended differently.
I have no problem with guns. Where I have a problem is with gun owners who also happen to be seriously lacking in IQ or someone I would suspect of having an elevator that doesn’t go all the way to the top.
Last summer at the 61 Main restaurant, there was a young man with a pistol in a holster drinking a few beers with a young woman. The bar area there is tiny and it was unnerving to have some guy you don’t know drinking beer with his gun out.
Admittedly, there are places where you would be justified in carrying them for protection, but a farm-to-table restaurant on Jasper’s Main Street clearly isn’t one.
I am a rural gun snob. If you grew up hunting, had a gun in your hands before your drivers license, learned to shoot and were preached to about “never pointing it at anything you didn’t mean to kill” by your father or grandfather, then I support your right to carry guns anywhere you please. Or if you had military service, then one assumes you know what you are doing with a gun.
With our current gun statues, there are some restrictions on people who can’t own weapons, but these rules are thoroughly ineffective. Mentally defective people and convicted felons are empirically not reliable on an honor system, which is essentially how these rules work. For person-to-person sales, no one is required to even ask if the person falls into a restricted category.
It’s the lack of idiot restrictions that bothers me. Anyone can walk into a store, buy a gun, ammo and go home and accidentally shoot their neighbor’s car, house, kid or dog while trying to figure out the safety. Even intelligent people should not be expected to figure out a gun by themselves without some training.
A perfect example that I witnessed was at a friend’s house on Old Burnt Mountain Road. He would host an occasional party for his wife’s metro area co-workers and a few locals to come shoot.
At the last one, the boyfriend of one of the employees arrived with a duffle bag of firearms he had bought several weeks prior at an estate sale.
He was candid that he knew nothing about guns and confirmed his incompetence by saying he had been randomly trying some of the loose ammo from the bag in the different handguns to see which it would fire in – very unsafe.
But the shocker was a “riot-stopper” pump 12-gauge found to be loaded when the host was looking over the arsenal. The guy had bought it that way and didn’t know how to check the pump shotgun. And it would appear whoever sold it hadn’t bothered to check or didn’t know how either.
And this man and his purchase of loaded gun were fully legal.
If you go somewhere like the Bargain Barn, you can be sure a salesman is going to offer plenty of expert advice to get started.
Local pistol instructor Carlton Wilson estimates that 1 out of every 20 students he trains shows up for the first class with a loaded pistol and almost no knowledge of how to safely handle it. Many have bought the gun but never fired it as they weren’t sure how, he said. “It’s not common but it happens often enough to be a concern,” he said.
[Disclaimer: gun accidents rank low on the list of dangers, well below accidental poisoning or drownings.]
While I support gun rights, I worry about where kids without that father or grandfather are supposed to learn how to unload an automatic shotgun or check to see if there is a round in a chamber with a pistol?
The state of Georgia won’t let you hunt until you complete a hunter’s safety course. So, you may not legally carry a gun to shoot a squirrel out in the woods until you’ve had some training but you can carry a concealed pistol (with the safety off if you choose) to a mall as long as you aren’t a former felon or certified dangerously crazy.
29 of the 50 states, including both Tennessee and Florida (and gun rights stronghold Texas), require some form of training before issuing a weapons permit. Georgia should look to do the same.
I don’t want to give the idea that I want someone to come for our guns, but a little education would certainly make me feel better about guys with duffle bags full of used guns.