I’ve owned a gun since the day I was born. Lying amongst the rattles, the pacifiers and boxes of diapers given to my mother during my baby shower was a weathered, camouflage-painted 30 alt 6 hunting rifle.
Passed down from generations before me, the rifle has been battered, bruised and broken over the years from countless hunting exhibitions and firing range excursions. Fast forward 21 years and 9 guns later and here I am writing this article.

I’ve always kept my hands clean of the gun control debate, but I’ve had change of heart as of late. It goes without saying which incident sparked this introspection, but I felt it was time to revaluate this gun-filled life that I’ve lived. As I sit at home and watch the two sides of the gun debate hurl their own facts and figures like mortars back and forth at one another, I get sick to my stomach, realizing that at this rate, nothing will be achieved. I then realized that if any kind of middle ground was to be reached, it would have to come from within the gun community from those who feel they can do without that 70 round clip or detachable stock.

I’m not saying we should ban all guns. I love my guns and will not hand them all in at the drop of the hat. Yet, even for my love of all things ballistic, I will be the first to admit that there is a problem and that maybe we should entertain the idea of letting up just a bit.

I’m not here to offer solutions because I believe it is too soon. This issue cannot be solved overnight and in no way can be rushed to appease those who call for an outright ban. This is a conversation that we must have over time with clear heads. What I want to do is offer dialogue points from someone who actually owns and appreciates fireams, but also as someone who realizes that something has got to give.

To begin with, our access to guns is verging a bit on the ridiculous. I’ve been to plenty of gun shows and have seen first hand how easy it is to acquire a gun privately. I’ve seen hunters trade rifles for trucks, boats and deer stands. Our current federal regulations basically turn a blind eye to the issue of privately-sold firearms and I think we need to address this loophole.

Sure, crooks, robbers and murders will still find a way to get their weapons and it will be somewhat impossible to regulate it, but let’s not just throw our hands up in the air, quit and give them an express lane for doing so. We’re better than that.

This same idea applies to bullets just as well. I recently read a beautifully-put statement that you can buy a thousand rounds of ammo straight off the shelf, but you cannot buy a twenty-four pack of Advil without getting customer assistance to bring it from out back. Chris Rock does a hilarious, yet insightful, bit about the price of bullets, claiming that if a single bullet cost $5,000 then the homicide rate would plummet, as we wouldn’t waste ammo on trivial arguments and senseless killings. I’m not saying each bullet should cost the price of a used Honda Civic, but I am saying that maybe we shouldn’t supply cheap and readily available ammunition. Sure, that hurts gun owners like me, but if it helps just a little bit, then I’m willing to sacrifice a few extra dollars and stop wasting my own ammo along the way.

Sure, we need this weapons for self-defense. Who doesn’t want to protect themselves? As someone who has a permit to carry a concealed weapon and who also happens to live in downtown Atlanta, I totally understand and agree.
Honestly though, do I really need to own the caliber of weapons that I do? My family and I own plenty of “assault rifles” to defend ourselves. I always thought this was normal seeing as a come from a military family. Now, I’m not so sure. What the hell am I protecting myself from? A home intruder? Or a Russian ground invasion?
Sure, I’ll use a pistol to protect myself, but does that really mean I should? What if my assailant just made a poor life decision that day? What if this one act of aggression is something completely out of the norm? People make mistakes every day. Does that mean I have the right to take another human being’s life? Who am I to make that kind of judgment call? I know this sounds soft coming from a gun owner, but I was raised to value human life and not see it carelessly wasted.

Sure, sometimes the situation may be life or death and it’s pretty safe to say that your assailant does not have your best interest in mind most of the time, and deciding this in the heat of the moment is an awfully tough decision to make. It’s this thought that has led me to want to push for more non-lethal forms of protection. I will gladly give up my pistol and carry a new form of weapon that has the ability to incapacitate an assailant until help can arrive. If we have nukes, then I’m sure we can think of something a little less violent given some time.

Sure, if you give up your lethal weapons in favor of its non-lethal counterpart, you can’t stop the government from tyrannically ruling over you in the future. You can’t also stop being an idiot. It’s people who think President Obama is going to take all of our guns away and establish the fourth Reich that give normal, logically-thinking gun owners a bad name. Do you honestly think that our military is going to slaughter us in the streets? Yeah, maybe if we recruited the Taliban or Hamas to defend us, then yes, I might be a little untrustworthy of our government myself. Yet, as it stands, those are our brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews and nieces out there who fight on the front lines. You’re insulting their commitment to this country to think that they will mercilessly kill the people they’ve sworn to protect.

I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, though. Maybe we miss the signs of an impending authoritarian rule because we were too busy instagraming our dinner or checking our Twitter feeds. Maybe some future president does decide that he wants to kill off the very infrastructure that sustains this country. Well, if that’s the case, then god help us all because all of the assault rifles and high capacity magazines won’t do a damn thing to stop a 2,000 pound Tomahawk Cruise missile launched from a Montana class battleship 100 miles out at sea from crashing into your living room and vaporizing everything.

I hear it time and time again: “Well it’s our constitutional responsibility to overthrow a tyrannical government.” Sure, you’re absolutely right. But if Ukraine, the Philippines and Ecuador could peacefully overthrow their governments, then I’ve got a feeling we Americans will make it look easy. It’s an insult to our existence as a nation to think that we cannot work together and stop the outbreak of a second civil war.
I haven’t even touched on the subject of mental health and firearms, but I think it’s pointless because we’re too busy screaming at one another to hear those with mental issues calmly asking for help.

I’m sorry, fellow gun owners, if I’ve offended you. Call me a traitor. Call me a coward. Call me what you will, but I just want to help however possible, even if that help requires me to have a magazine limited to five shots. If I need more than that, then I’m probably in over my head anyway. I’m sick of just saying gun crimes will always happen. Let’s lead the charge in stopping the gun violence that has plagued us for far too long. It’s not going to be easy, but we’re gun owners, we wouldn’t have it any other way now would we?