When we were kids, we were always hunting gophers. We loved to go shooting.
The rat-like pests were devastating large tracts of agricultural land,
so some local governments even offered a bounty for each gopher tail.
It was hardly enough to pay for shells, but when you're ten years old,
every little bit seems like a fortune.
We always went shooting where the gophers were the most plentiful. And
we always went where they were unarmed. If the gophers had had guns, and
could have shot back, we'd have found a different favorite thing to do.
Some might laugh at such an idea, but it's true. If those little rascals
could have swapped rounds with us, bullet for bullet, we'd have high-tailed
it out of there.
In Florida a while back, the gophers did shoot back. Some punk with a
gun tried to stick up a restaurant. Unfortunately for him, Florida permits
concealed weapons. A couple of customers were packing heat. Rather than
standing idly by, they each put a bullet into the bad guy. He lived, but
that's one crook that learned an important lesson.
In a recent issue of Enterprise Magazine, Ray Wisher tells a similar story.
In the community where he works as a law enforcement officer, there was
an elderly lady who lived alone in a remote area. One night three burglars
decided to smash through her front door while she was home. She ran to
her bedroom where she kept a gun. Terrified, she crouched behind the bed.
When they came into her bedroom, she let go with a volley of four shots.
Yelling, screaming, and pandemonium followed as the burglars fell over
each other trying to get away. One of them was later treated for a gunshot
wound to the shoulder. Interestingly, all the burglaries that had plagued
that community came to a complete halt.
This legitimate right to self-defense is the reason a father of one of
the students at Columbine High School is critical of a decision by the
Colorado legislature to drop a proposal allowing law-abiding citizens
to carry concealed weapons. Dale Anema said, "I wonder, if two crazy
hoodlums can walk into a 'gun-free' zone, and the police are incapable
of defending the children, why would anyone want to make it harder for
law-abiding adults to defend themselves and others?" It's worth thinking
about - especially if we consider what might have happened in Atlanta
recently, if the distraught day trader who went on a killing rampage had
run into another day trader with a .38 in a shoulder holster, or a secretary
with a .22 handgun in her purse.
That's why the notion that guns are responsible for crime is such an interesting
phenomenon. In the 1920s, anybody in Canada could walk into a gun store,
and buy pretty much whatever they wanted. There were no cruel acts of
violence driving the political agenda. Yet seeking to perpetuate the notion
that we need someone to blame, politicians have decided that all law-abiding
gun owners should be viewed as potential criminals.
In some ways, the gun debate could be endless. But the fact remains that
so far as good guys and bad guys are concerned, back when we were kids,
if we had even suspected the gophers could shoot back, we'd have thought
twice before we pointed a gun in their direction.
Kevin Avram is a former director of the Prairie Centre/Centre for
Prairie Agriculture, and continues to sit as a member of the Prairie Centre's