I got home from work to find an email in my ‘In Box’ from a local Scoutmaster that I had a conversation with at Round table. We were talking about our annual plans and I told him that our Troop would be Shot Gun Shooting in January at the local Gun Club and camping at a local Scout camp.
He asked in his email if I thought it a good idea to continue with our plan to go shooting in light of the recent events here in Oregon and in Connecticut. He thinks that maybe we should not encourage our Scouts to shoot guns.
Well, I am going to be totally honest with you and tell you all.. and this Scoutmaster, that I disagree. I think this is the time that we need to be teaching gun safety and responsibility. The more I thought about how I should respond, the more I thought about just how important it is for proper instruction and example of how we should handle fire arms.
The Guide to Safe Scouting does a real good job of making it clear that the Boy Scouts of America does not condone the shooting of anything living. Through its shooting sports activities and the G2SS the Boy Scouts teach responsible fire arm safety and responsibility. The Guide clearly prohibits any activity that encourages engaging targets other than paper. This is the reason we can not have Air soft or Paint ball outings. Those two activities, while I see no direct harm in them when played in an organized field with rules and the proper equipment, are against the BSA rules so Scouts do not get used to engaging human targets.
Not that Paint ball wars are the gateway to a person going on a shooting spree… but I can see why we should maintain this as a good rule. Especially in light of the conversations currently in the media regarding “First person Shooter video games” etc.
But so far as Scouts doing the Shooting sports and earning the shooting sports merit badges. They need to have that program available to them.
They teach the Scout to have a healthy respect for fire arms. They build confidence in the Scout as he develops skills, and the Scout can seek further achievement in the JR Olympic Shooting programs offered.
Shooting sports are fun and should be kept fun by keeping the competition healthy and the bullets on paper targets.
To the matter of “Too Soon”.
No. It’s not to soon. It’s the right time to teach. It’s the right time to reinforce the ideas of responsibility and demonstrate that the gun can not do harm unless the person behind it wants to do harm. It is time to reinforce the Scout Oath and Law and always doing what is right. It is time to allow these Scouts to decide for themselves how they want to act and react around fire arms.
I am not going to get into a 2nd Amendment argument here, but we do have the right in America to keep and bear arms. It is time to teach our Scouts what that means.
It is time to teach our Scouts that we do not allow crime and criminals to dictate how honest, law abiding citizens should live. On the contrary, it is time to teach them that good citizens get to set the standard and rules to live by.
Just because people choose to drink and drive does not mean that we out law cars and alcohol. We have rules, laws, and social norms in this country and while the recent events are tragic, they do not, and should not dictate how the rest of us live. Oh and I refuse to live in fear too… so this is what we teach our Scouts in the Shooting sports activities.
In January when we go shooting as a Troop, these life lessons among the lessons of proper fire arm use is how we will do it. We will not postpone it, we will not shy away from it, we will teach, coach, train and mentor our Scouts to always do the right thing. We will play this game with a purpose and we will do it the right way.
I have been around fire arms my entire life. I own 4 rifles and a pistol. I do not see the need for a 30 round magazine or what the media calls Assault rifles. I am friends with many hunters although I have never hunted a day in my life. I don’t know anyone that hunts with an AK47. But I understand that people like to fire high powered, rapid firing guns. I understand the sport, the collecting, and the right to own these fire arms. Is there a ‘need’? Maybe not, but we are allowed to have them and I do not, even given the recent tragic events, want to see that right taken from me and my fellow Americans.
I am not a “slippery slope” guy. I don’t think one right taken will lead to more… but the real question for me is why not just enforce the laws we have? Why can’t our screening process be revamped to make sure that these fire arms end up in the right hands. Why can’t there be an education piece added to the rules of ownership?
These are the questions no one seems to be asking. They just want the guns to go away. Well they aren’t and they never will.
So we teach our Scouts to be responsible with them and we teach them to respect the fire arm and their fellow man. We teach them to do the right thing and at least we will have done our part to prevent these tragic events in the future.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
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