Much has been said about the recent school tragedy in Arkansas, and there are those who put the blame on guns. Sorry, but I just don’t see it that way. I grew up in a household where guns were always available. I had my first .22 at six and my first shotgun at 12. But my Dad taught me how to use, maintain and respect firearms. Except in self-defense, the thought of harming someone else has still never entered my mind. So what are the differences between my generation and the current one? Is it society in general?

Dad taught me the difference between right and wrong, how to do things and fix things, how to play ball and how to hunt and fish, and he and my older sisters helped me with my schoolwork. Mom was always there for anything else. The words “day care” were not in our vocabulary and welfare was called “relief,” a holdover from the Great Depression, but people were too proud to admit receiving it. We didn’t have much money, and all family members were assigned chores in order to collect their “allowance,” which taught us responsibility. School started each day with a prayer and a pledge, and they didn’t hand out condoms. We went to school to learn, not to socialize or make a fashion statement. I had more than one paddle broken over my rear end for acting up, and when I got paddled, I deserved it. You never told Mom or Dad that your teacher paddled you, or you would get it twice as hard from one of them. We were taught to say “please” and “thank you” instead of “gimmee.” We often wore hand-me-downs, but our clothes were always clean and we wore our caps with the brim in front to shield our eyes from the sun, as they were designed. We looked up to Harry, Ike and John as leaders to be admired and to set an example for the rest of us. Convicted murderers were executed promptly instead of languishing years and years on death row filing appeal after appeal. When tragedy struck, we dried our tears, stuck out our chin and went on with life instead of beating our breasts and holding countless memorial services seeking psychologists to tell us how to cope with what happened. Newspapers presented both sides of an issue without a political slant.

Contrast that with today. I believe we still have a majority of two-parent homes. However, I believe that in most of these homes both parents work, not really because of what they need, but rather for what they want. The TV’, with all of its accompanying trash, becomes the babysitter. We are of the mentality of protecting our children almost to the point of hysteria, but they are readily sent off to school where teachers are expected to become quasi parents, but without the aid of any authority or discipline. They are later dumped off at some after-school activity where some coach is supposed to take over where the teachers left off When the kids get a little older, Mom and Dad hand them a fistful of dollars and tell them to go out and play so that Mom and Dad can have some peace and quiet to relieve the pressures of the day. After all, being a parent is a major inconvenience. Our leaders set the example of not what is right or wrong, but how much you can get away with. The media provides coverage with a definite political slant or eliminates the event entirely when it is counter to editorial policy. Thoughts and actions are suppressed for fear of being politically incorrect. Our courts are clogged with so many frivolous lawsuits that we have become the laughingstock of all other jurists around the world; we don’t have a criminal justice system, we have a legal system. No one is held responsible for his actions, and any wrongdoing is thought to be the result of some outside stimuli from another place or another time. Government strives to make our decisions. After all, government and all its numerous bureaucracies are smarter than we are and know better what is good for us. They said it was so. Trust them.

But perhaps the biggest lacking in our society today is our unwillingness to purge or admonish someone who we know has done wrong, but we shield and protect him just because he belongs to our “group,” whether that group is ethnic, racial, religious or sexual or political in nature. Until we conquer this, we will always be a second-rate nation, regardless of how rich and powerful we might be.

I’m glad I grew up when I did.

—Russell H. Zullick, Jr., Allentown, Pennsylvania



I would like to personally commend you on the outstanding article, “School Shooting,” that appeared in the October 1998 issue of HANDGUNS. In this article, you touched on all the issues concerning guns, this country’s history and the subject matter. As an African-American male who is well-educated and a peace officer, I highly commend you for briefly touching on the racism of American society in general and how it applies to gun owners also. You additionally brought to light several issues that this country as a whole needs to consider. But the most important seems to be that as a country there are no easy answers. Guns are blamed for a lot of this country’s problems when individuals should be targeted. We need to remember this and remain vigilant in our fight for individual freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. One last thing: How about more articles on hunting with traditional straight wall handgun caliber carbines? Thanks, Jan, for the article and the excellent magazine!

—Fredrick C. McCallum, San Diego, California



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