We all carried shotguns in the crisp morning air. Lined from one side of the corn field to the other, twelve of us began walking. Four people stood at the far end of the field as blockers. Three dogs worked the cornrows.

Then a bird flushed.

Pheasant hunting with childThis was the first day I was allowed to carry a weapon during pheasant hunting season. For years, I had followed my father and his friends, observing, learning and soaking in the peculiarities of upland bird hunting.

I also took a hunter education course and several NRA sponsored safety classes. I knew from those trainings that gun safety was a matter of practice and repetition.

Now, in the momentary chaos of a flushing pheasant, I knew how to safely handle my weapon in the close proximity of a dozen people and three active bird dogs.

Those were the days.

But times have changed. As American gun culture has transitioned from avid sportsmen to paranoid, para-military ultra-conservatives, the emphasis on safety has shifted too.

gun-in-pants_645x400For instance, the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance (ISAA) wants to eliminate all permits and training requirements for carrying a concealed weapon. That way, if a “carrier” was ever confronted by a live shooter in a combat situation like what happened in Roseburg, he or she could pump rounds into the villain – thereby saving the day – before lunchtime.

Let’s put that in perspective. Back in the 1980s, during the Reagan administration (he’s the last president who was shot, by the way), the safe handling of firearms in a pheasant hunting situation was something you gained through practice and training.

Yet to the ISAA, the safe handling of firearms in a combat situation is something you get by being 21 or older and shoving a pistol in your pants.

ISAA president Greg Pruett calls it “Constitutional Carry,” which, of course, is absurd. A permit requirement for concealed carry has never been found unconstitutional – not once.

So let’s call it what it is: irresponsible carry.

Safe weapon handling requires training. Safe weapon handling in a combat situation requires a bunch of training. Firearms are dangerous – really friggin’ dangerous. I should know. My NRA firearm instructor died in a gun accident.

In the past two weeks, we’ve seen horrendous stories of children gaining access to guns. In Tennessee, an 11-year-old allegedly killed an 8-year-old girl over a puppy while in South Carolina, a two-year-old boy shot his grandmother in the back.

And that’s only the beginning. As the Washington Post has discovered, toddlers have been involved in 43 shootings just this year – let that sink in for a moment…toddlers have been involved in 43 shootings just this year.

Toddles killed by gunsWhy are toddlers gaining access to guns? Because guns are within their reach. Why are so many guns within their reach? Because modern American gun culture preaches that guns should be available at all times. You know? For safety reasons — protection from the bad guys. Sadly, that creates opportunities for bad things to happen.

Alas, the only reason paranoid, para-military, ultra conservatives are attracted to guns is because they’re so friggin’ dangerous.

Yet it’s important to note that during the Reagan era, asking people to learn how to use a gun wasn’t an affront to the fabric of ‘Murica.

To hell with it. Those were the old days. Today there’s no need for safety training. Besides, hasn’t Hollywood has already taught us how to use guns?

After watching this gun safety video, you’ll be qualified to pack heat in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Vermont and Wyoming.

Whew! I feel safer already.

Derek Farr