The Planted Row: What are you willing to give up?

Stan Wise Farm Forum Editor
Farm Forum

Recently, a member of our local police department came to our office and led us through an active shooter training exercise. A week after our training, I was horrified as news of yet another school shooting unfolded. In the week since that shooting, we are once again engaged in a national debate about gun control.

Like many Farm Forum readers, I grew up in a house with guns. I’m comfortable around guns. I shot a gun for the first time when I was under the age of 6. When I was a little older, I roamed the countryside around our farm with both rifle and shotgun. My family members were NRA members.

Of all the guns in our house — all the guns I could use for hunting or target practice — there were two guns I wasn’t allowed to touch. A .38 revolver my great-aunt gave to my father when he went to college and a Colt .45 1911 that had belonged to my maternal grandfather.

I asked my father why I wasn’t allowed to touch those guns, and as he held the .45, he replied, “Son, this gun was designed for one purpose and one purpose only – to kill people.”

When I was 15, he sold the two pistols because he needed some extra money at Christmas. He could have sold one of the rifles or shotguns, but he sold the guns that had only one purpose.

As I got older, my father instructed me that if I ever needed to use a gun to defend the home, I was to use a shotgun with birdshot. He didn’t want me to use a rifle because they had too much penetrating power, and they might go through a wall and kill someone else on the other side.

I grew up hunting, and I never used a semi-automatic rifle. (Bolt action was good enough for me.) There were no semi-automatic rifles in our home, and yet I felt safe.

I can’t imagine why I would ever need a semi-automatic rifle with a high capacity magazine.

This week I watched a video made by a man named Scott Pappalardo. In this video he explained that he loves the Second Amendment and even has it tattooed on his arm. He displayed the AR-15 that he has owned for 30 years. Then he sawed his rifle in half so that, no matter what, his AR-15 couldn’t be used to take a human life.

I’m writing this column for two reasons. One is to let the Second Amendment activists out there know that I completely understand and appreciate their position because I was raised with a similar philosophy. The other reason is to let them know that I’m ready to start talking about the things I don’t need and what I’m willing to give up so that some scared kids trapped in a building with shooter might have even slightly better odds of surviving.

In our office training exercise, the police officer gave us many tactics to try and survive a workplace shooting. Most of them involve taking advantage of opportunities and moments when the shooter is vulnerable – like when he stops to reload.

I don’t think we should ban all guns in this country, but I’m willing to give up rifles with high capacity magazines so that some people have a chance to live. They were designed for only one purpose, and I don’t need them to feel safe.

As you reflect on your life with guns, ask yourself what you really need and what you’d be willing to part with so that the next mass shooting has a lower body count.

FFA Student Spotlight

The Farm Forum is kicking off its FFA Student Spotlight highlighting the hard work performed by FFA members to become the next generation of ag leaders. This feature will run on the last Friday of every month. You can find this month’s Student Spotlight on page 43A.