I was sorry to read about Ellen Weiss’ experience with a Peeping Tom in ‘Guns ‘n Woes’ in the Oct. 25 issue of The Bulletin. I’m glad she was not injured or forced to defend herself in this situation, but I wish there had been another way for her to change her opinion regarding firearms. Unfortunately, this seems to be one of the most common reasons people change their mind about them.
I agree with her statement, “There is no point in banning guns in most places because those who break the law are going to have their weapon despite its illegality,” but I must say that she is mistaken when she states that guns “are given out like candy.”
First, guns are expensive. They are not usually given away, but there is the occasional raffle or sweepstakes. Winners must have the firearm transferred through a Federal Firearms License holder. Second, every time someone tries to purchase a firearm or pick up one they have won in a drawing from a FFL dealer, the FFL holder must run a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. According to Fbi.gov, there have been more than 150 million NICS checks since the system began in 1998, and 958,278 NICS checks have been denied. That’s nearly a million guns that have been kept out of the hands of people that should not have them.
Next, it’s true there is no requirement in Kansas for licensing, training or testing to purchase a firearm. However, it is required for most common, legal uses of firearms. If you want to hunt, you must attend hunter education classes and pass a test before you can get a hunting license. If you want to carry a firearm for self-defense, you must take concealed carry classes, pass a test and then pass an extensive background check with the local sheriff and the state attorney general’s office.
It is illegal to openly carry a loaded firearm in Emporia and many other towns, unless you are on your own property, a police officer on duty or a few other exceptions listed in the city code. Discharging a firearm is also against the law in Emporia, except in cases of self-defense. Responsible, law abiding citizens already follow these laws.
The only thing left is target shooting. Unless you have access to land where it is legal to shoot, you must go to a shooting range. Many states have public shooting ranges, but most are private businesses and clubs. Target shooting is prohibited on federal land. Shooting ranges have safety rules that are strictly enforced, and many ranges offer training if you don’t know how to operate your firearm.
Finally, here in Kansas and throughout the United States, shooting and hunting are a tradition that is passed down from generation to generation. Many people in our country are taught from an early age to respect firearms and use them safely.
I’m glad to live in a state where our Second Amendment right is not more heavily infringed upon, and I don’t believe any additional infringement is necessary. There are already plenty of laws restricting the ownership and use of firearms.
I would encourage everyone to learn more about firearms and firearm safety, even if you never intend to own one. A good way to start learning the basics of firearm safety is by taking a hunter education class or a concealed carry class. More information can be found at the following links:
*Franklin is a former Bulletin staffer