I live in South Carolina. Down here in the Southeast, we have a reputation as being “gun enthusiasts.” That’s not a misperception. We are passionate about guns but, more importantly, we’re passionate about the freedom to choose if we want guns in our homes.
What is a misperception: That everyone in the South owns a gun or that everyone who supports gun ownership is a poorly educated, Trump-voting, rebel-flag waving redneck.
Take my dad, for example. He was a career Marine who served his country for more than 20 years. Like many military families, we had guns in the house when I was a kid. They were out in the open, hanging on a wall in our den on a gun rack my grandfather made.
The gun rack held an assortment of rifles and shotguns and even had a little shelf for holding boxes of ammo. This was in the same room where we watched TV as a family and where I hung out with my boyfriend, which seems like horrible idea to me 30 years later, but at the time wasn’t strange at all. We certainly weren’t the only home with that particular decorating scheme.
I was 8 the first time I shot a gun. My dad taught me to breathe slowly and squeeze the trigger on the exhale, just like he learned in the Marines.
We didn’t just display guns, either. I was 8 the first time I shot one. My dad taught me to breathe slowly and squeeze the trigger on the exhale, just like he learned in the USMC. He taught me to respect guns just like you would any dangerous thing or any useful tool.
Then I grew up, went to a very liberal college, voted for Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Barack Obama (twice), Bernie and, when that didn’t work out, Hillary. I am a liberal speck of blue in a sea of conservative red. I stand out here. I’m different than a lot of my fellow Southerners.
But I own guns.
And I have children.
My husband and I keep our guns locked in a safe, not on the family room wall, but the conversations are the same as the ones I had with my dad. We talk to our kids about our guns, answer their questions, explain how guns work and what they do, how they’re made and how long they’ve been around. We teach them about guns, not just about shooting.
But just because I own a shotgun doesn’t mean I think anyone needs an assault rifle or that our country doesn’t need to reform our gun laws. Gun owner does not equal “gun nut.”
I’m a mother, a registered Democrat and a liberal voter who is also a gun owner and native Southerner, and if Initiative 1639 or legislation like it ever came to South Carolina, I would be first in line to vote in favor.
Stricter laws, more control, licensing and safety courses make sense in a time where not much does. But keeping our kids safe is always a no-brainer.
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