In 1975, New York state alone had over 80. In 1984, there were only 65 nationwide. By 1999 there were only 26. What were they? Shooting clubs at schools.
In 2007, a Wisconsin mother was appalled to discover a shooting range in the basement of her child’s school. Although unused for years, she sued the school district to “re-purpose” the area. She won.
Before the national implementation of the “Zero Tolerance Gun Policy”in 1989, shootings at schools usually had one or two victims. Most of them from accidents. For decades, there were none at all. This is weird because the kids were packing. High Schools had rifle teams and shooting clubs. Student routinely toted them around campus. In many cases they were stored in the gym. Not for safety, but because they were heavy to lug around. Up until the ’70s, especially in rural areas, it was commonplace to see kids entering and leaving their school campuses with rifle bags slung lazily over their backs. Guns were left in school lockers, and rifles and shotguns were routinely seen in high-school parking lots, hanging in the rear windows of pickup trucks.
Setting aside his BB gun at the age of 10 or twelve. It was a right of passage for a youngster to get his first rifle. Gun safety and shooting skills were past from father to son ( and more often than you think, daughter).
I got a BB gun for my 10th birthday. At 12, I held a real weapon for the first time. It was at Boy Scout summer camp at Camp Pico Blanco, California. I was going for the Rifle and Shotgun Merit Badge.. Our instructor was a serving Army NCO and was assisted by a PFC. In Air Force basic training I realized that I had received the same marksmanship course in summer camp. In Basic Training it was with the M-16. In the Boy Scouts it was with the 22 caliber semi-automatic.The shotgun was a 410.
Some have called for armed guards in schools or maybe pistol packing teachers. How about arming the children again? Not only with weapons, but arming them with respect of firearms. Safety engrained into them. Full knowledge that they hold Life and Death in their hands and not some fairy tale notion that video games give them now.
I took my boys to the range when they were ten and eight. My daughter starting shooting at seven. Every time I hand her a loaded pistol we have a ceremony. I hold out the weapon and ask The Question. “What is this?” Before she is allowed to take it in hand she must answer, “This is Life and Death in my hands.” She is well drilled on safety.
- Always treat a weapon as if it is loaded.
- Always point it in a safe direction.
- Release the safety only when ready to shoot.
- Always check to see if the chamber is clear when receiving a weapon or handing to another person.
Her aim is pretty good and she will soon be learning the “Double Tap”. She also is taught, when threatened, to scream “I FEAR FOR MY LIFE!!” and then empty the magazine.