December 9th, 2008 11:21 EST
"Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day"
"Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day", this is a line from a song in the musical Oklahoma.
If you are wondering why I am singing this tune today, it is because I am high in the sky right now traveling from Phoenix to Oklahoma to do a show for a group of Oil folks (what could they be partying about is what I want to find out).
Now one of the things I like to do when I am taking a flight is to catch up on the news, news that is not so obvious news. Stuff off the beaten path and not the beaten to death path. Like the auto bailout or what Obama is doing each day. These are headlines I call melodrama headlines, they are an ongoing saga about people that are untouchables, we see them everyday, but we can not touch them. Sometimes I like to read the other news, you know like cat in the tree, or man finds wallet news. Things that happen that we might actually be able to respond and react to or act upon.
Ok, so I am rifling through the days events and I come upon this headline, now before I tell you what it is, I will tell you how tough it is to take aim on this one. The reason being is I am a cowboy that makes his living traveling around the world entertaining folks with my cowboy skills. One of those skills is spinning real 45 caliber six shooters (guns). You can go to my web site and watch this lost art in action: www.WillRogersUSA.com.
The headline, once you see the headline you might catch why this topic is so tough for me to talk about. But it might surprise you all to know that my reasons are not what you might expect to hear from a modern day Wild West cowboy, so here we go.
"Clerk shoots man dead for stealing a case of beer" - at first glance this headline seems natural for me to capitalize as a humorist news story for my daily column. But reading into this story I find that this story and many others has to do with the 2nd amendment and the NRA. This whole story is about different people who have defended themselves from evil doers that may, MAY have been endangering these other people lives. Let`s skip past the fact that this man took the beer without the clerk`s knowledge and then only after he saw him leaving the store and sitting in his car did he get his gun and shoot him dead. Self defense? Let`s get to that later.
Here is another headline: "Clerk shots man dead for taking money out of his cash register, man is unarmed."
Now you can see my dilemma, I hope. But what I am about to say about this may shock you folks.
Just because we own a gun and we have the 2nd amendment on our side, it does not mean you should shoot it. This is where it becomes very difficult to support gun ownership. This is the type of act that makes it difficult to see the other side of the coin. There is no question in my mind that IF you are in danger or your family, you should have the right to defend yourselves. But I don`t get how, #1. These people in quick marts are such a good shot with a gun as to kill a person and #2. Have the guts to kill a person that walks out of there store after shoplifting. NOT robbery, shoplifting. Find me a kid that has not given themselves a five finger discount in their adolescent years and I will show you an honest political.
This type of street justice sounds more like a Wild West shooting gallery and less of act of justice, in some cases. See this is the point all my gun friends start writing me to tell me to turn in my weapon and that I don`t deserve to own my guns. Although I am making a sweeping generalization on all gun owners and NRA members, I am confident that NRA members are as clear about their rights in the moment of an emergency as a deer is clear that when they see a gun in the forest it means they better run fast. Folks you just don`t get a mullet hair cut and not be ready to defend it. Meaning, guns serve one purpose and only one purpose and that is to be shot.
The real question is when to use them? This law or doctrine is not as clear as it could be but neither is one person`s definition of danger. Maybe we could be just a little clearer about the outcome. Otherwise soon we might just be opening up the range for target practice and the targets might be our kids. I can see the headlines now: "6 year old boy shot for stealing candy."
Which opens the other side of this situation? If every store or homeowner starts taking shots at people just because they feel in danger, the petty thieves may start carrying a gun to shoot back. Even in other countries they start by chop off parts of your body that were used in a crime. That way the bad learn a lesson and others in there criminal communities can see what happens if they follow suit.
Owning a gun does not give us the right to kill, unless you are a hunter. In that case the gun owner has all the rights and hunted have none. It gives us a right to protect ourselves if all other means of defending ourselves are gone. It also does not mean that we just become commandos or swat team members because we own a gun. I hear all the time about folks that were cleaning there guns accidentally shot themselves. First rule of gun ownership, if you clean your gun while loaded you should never own a gun to begin with.
Owning a gun is not just about the moment you can hold it and experience the power of having it. It is also the power of respect and responsibility to know that in the wrong hands it becomes a deadly weapon and as gun owner you hold the power to determine if your weapon ends up in the wrong hands. I am one of the best gun handlers in the country and I check my guns every 5 seconds when I have them at my shows. It is part of my act to show folks that I respect and check my weapons.
The same applies when I store it in my home for protection. In that I store it unloaded, locked and ammo not near the gun. I really don`t want you folks to take my comments here and turn it in to a gun control issue. My purpose for this is to get folks who have weapons to think about all the options when it comes to using it. You must set the examples for your kids so they don`t misuse firearms. Remember your kids have different messages being shoved in front of them, then when you were a kid. Video games like "Grand Theft Auto" are NOT supposed to be gun training videos. So here is my plan for this issue and pardon me if some of it seems humorous or common sensible. Sometimes the simplest answers come off that way.
My plan: Aim for an arm or leg IF you can. Take out all legs and arms first and see where that goes. Or better yet IF you can, let them go and let the police do what they are trained to do, handle guns and get the criminals. BUT if you are standing in front of the judge and they ask you, tell them you were aiming for the heart, you are just a bad aim :). Every person`s situation is different; however, the outcome is not. Be smart because at least one person in a conflict need to be.
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