I am a responsible gun owner.- Steve Elliott
I bought my first gun when I was 12. It was a Browning 12-gauge shotgun, and I saved money from my paper route and cleaning a drive-in restaurant to buy it in time for dove season. In the years before I could legally drive, I’d tie the Browning across the handlebars of my bike and ride to the fields outside town to hunt.
I’ve owned several guns since, and own a handgun now. I bought that gun to keep my family safe, and lock it up to keep them safe from it. Like I said, responsible.
And so while I’d like to believe I’m not part and party to the gun violence that stains America, I can’t. My grandmother shot and killed herself with a gun, and a few years ago my father shot and didn’t quite kill himself with one. My stepbrother died in a murder-suicide with a gun, and the husband of one of my sister’s co-workers was killed in a mass shooting.
None of that happened with my gun, of course, but after every new mass shooting, I’m reminded that I bear a portion of the responsibility for our nation’s gun violence. There are too many guns to do anything about it, the gun lobby says. Regulations are a slippery slope that only limit the rights of responsible gun owners, they say.
My gun is being used to argue against common-sense laws and policies that could reduce gun violence in America, arguments I find unconscionable. That’s what being a responsible gun owner means today – I’m responsible. I’ve been uneasy about that for a while now, and ashamed to admit it’s taken two more mass shootings for me to do anything about it.
That ended today. Today I disassembled my handgun, a 9mm Ruger, clamped the pieces in a vice and cut them in half with an angle grinder. I’m sending the proper paperwork into the state to report it destroyed.
None of us individually can stop gun violence in America, but as a responsible gun owner, I will no longer be used as a justification for doing nothing about it. Today I did what I could. Today there is #ONELESSGUN
Nuria Espert - Canta Bertolt Brecht (1967)
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