Last week I was walking into Target when I saw a man asking for signatures for I-1639, the new proposed gun legislation for Washington state that will likely be on the ballot this November.
I stopped to sign my name. As I did, a young man next to me, who was signing a petition against grocery taxes, chuckled and said, “Wanna see my gun?”
My children were mere feet away.
I was enraged, I was terrified and I was reminded that the issue of gun control is not as black and white as many seem to think.
What this man didn’t know is that I too am a gun owner, albeit by default. My husband owns multiple guns — including a handgun and a few rifles passed down from his grandfather — that are locked up in a secure safe in our house. Our children don’t have access to the safe and don’t even know they’re there.
While I am a strong supporter of gun control, I have no problem having guns in the house. The reason why is the same reason why I support I-1639: I believe in responsible gun ownership.
If that man at Target had actually read I-1639, he would have seen that it’s not trying to take guns away from law-abiding gun owners. Rather, it’s trying to make some common sense additions to existing laws for the safety of kids and our communities.
What the initiative asks for is: enhanced background checks; an increase in the purchase waiting period from five days to ten days; an increase in the minimum age at which one can legally purchase a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21; and for gun owners to have secure gun storage. If made into law, I-1639 would also create penalties for gun owners whose unsecured guns are used by anyone who shouldn’t legally have access to them.
Some may say that I’m a hypocrite, given that there are multiple guns in my home. Before I met my husband, I would have agreed with them.
Does any of this sound extreme or unreasonable? No. Will any of this negatively impact legal gun owners who are responsible about gun safety? No. And, most importantly, will it help keep my kids safe? I believe so, yes.
As a parent of elementary school-aged children, I will always support legislation that will make them even the slightest bit safer from gun violence. Some may say that I’m a hypocrite, given that there are multiple guns in my home. Before I met my husband, I would have agreed with them. But I have seen safe gun ownership in action, and therefore, I know it’s possible.
When my husband and I were dating, I asked to see his gun. I was terrified of guns but I trusted him and I thought I should learn more about what was clearly an important part of his life.
I will never forget the care and caution that he took in taking the gun out of its safe, how he checked to make sure it wasn’t loaded even though he kept it unloaded and stored the bullets separately, how he made sure to tell me not to point it at anything I didn’t want to shoot (again, this is after we had established that it was unloaded) and how he showed me how to hold it safely.
These aren’t the extreme actions of an overly cautious man. These are basic gun safety rules that are followed by any responsible gun owner.
Since that day, I haven’t been afraid of having guns in my home, even after we had our children. What I am afraid of is people who shouldn’t have access to guns getting hold of them. If that’s your fear as well, then there’s no reason not to support I-1639.
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