Wednesday, October 7, 2015

My Perspective on Guns and Gun Violence (Re: Umpqua Community College ‘Mass Murder’)

The murders at Umpqua Community College, to one degree or another, have impacted all of Oregon’s residents.  It hits so close to home.  And, why Roseburg, Oregon, of all places?

I had an appointment with a doctor a couple of days back and she, knowing a little about my background, asked me what I thought about the incident in Roseburg.  We didn’t have a lot of time to chat you understand, so I think she expected me to sum-up my opinion in as few words as possible.  I wasn’t sure what to say.  I answered something like, “It was tragic, awful; but, nonetheless, difficult to prevent.”  It was clear that she wanted to tell me what she thought.  I think this woman is a wonderful doctor, compassionate and very smart, but she stated:  “Well, I don’t think that anyone other than police and the military should even have guns.”  I was disappointed.  My response to her was weak and pathetic, “I don’t think that’s very practical.”

And, so goes the conversation between those of us who own and appreciate guns and those who abhor them.  Where guns are concerned, the bridge between she and I, as well as others like her, has long since crumbled.  It seems that there can be no handshake, no compromise, and no middle ground.

So, I’ve decided to write about guns and my thoughts, as well as my experience with guns.  I won’t attempt to dazzle you with obscure statistics – most of which are construed to project someone's personal bias.  The public, gets plenty of that in the Op Ed articles in the newspaper, authored by writers who generally reside in upscale, gated communities and often have little in the way of actual experience when it comes to guns, crime and the prevention of gun violence.  They largely write about their feelings and support those feelings with what information they can dredge-up from multiple, questionable sources that vaguely support their preconceived opinion.

‘It’s about gun control,’ they might say – ‘the time is now and we must do something.’  ‘And what is gun control?  What does that mean,’ I ask.  ‘You know what it means,’ they respond.  ‘Everyone knows,’ they continue.  ‘I don’t know, tell me.’ ‘Well, for one thing they should ban assault weapons.’  ‘And what do you mean by an assault weapon?’  ‘You know!’  ‘Yes, I have a pretty good idea about what you call an assault weapon, but you tell me what you think they are.’  Becoming frustrated, they terminate the discussion.  They have decided that I am not only a gun nut, but I am also a smart ass.

Before proceeding, I feel I must make some effort to establish my bona fides.  I don’t consider myself a gun expert or a ‘gun nut’ for that matter.  However…

I have served in law enforcement at the local and federal level.  I’ve been in the military.  I was in corporate security with a Fortune 500 company for almost twenty years, traveled extensively, and dealt with security issues and investigations at international manufacturing, distribution and corporate locations.  Workplace violence issues and prevention were considered a high priority aspect of my responsibilities.  Remember the days when ‘Going Postal’ was a popular catch phrase.  In more recent years, I had my own security consulting firm in Portland.

As an Agent in the FBI, I taught firearms proficiency and safe practices to police officers.  I’ve done civilian competitive shooting and have won some competitions.  I’ve owned and handled guns since I was fifteen years old.  I know and respect guns, and consider myself a moderate and responsible gun owner.  I have in the past belonged to the NRA.  I no longer belong.  And, in good time, I will explain why I discontinued my membership.

I would like to give you my thoughts.  I think there is some middle ground to be established – if all of us are just a little open-minded.

To be continued…

True Nelson

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