More guns, not less

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Sensitive subject, I know, especially in light of recent events, and past events …

Having moved to the “Live Free or Die” state of New Hampshire (NH), one of the first things we did was take a gun safety class at Sig Sauer Academy in Epping, New Hampshire.

The SIG SAUER Academy is unique; we are not a public shooting range, though more than half of our classes are open to responsible citizens. (

It’s surprising to me how many of us here in New Hampshire are packing. We talk about it. What kind of gun do you have? Where do you shoot? Do you want to come over and shoot? This is normal conversation for me now. In contrast, in Massachusetts, I didn’t know of anyone with a gun.

There had been a brutal crime in Mont Vernon, NH, a few years prior to us moving to NH, and it stuck with me. A few teenagers attacked a woman and her young daughter in their home with a machete, (not a gun) killing the mom, the daughter barely escaping. This was later deemed a “thrill kill.”

I decided that that would never happen to me. I will not be a victim in my own home.

So, off to class we go. I’m nervous. I’ve never held a gun. I’ve never seen a gun. I’ve never even heard a real gunshot.

There’s one other woman in the class. I am relieved I’m not the only female.

The instructor starts, “so, who’s nervous?” My hand shoots up fast. I can’t control my arm. I’m the only one who raised a hand. My classmates were not nervous. No doubt they had handled weapons before. Oh boy, I’m even more nervous now …

As the day goes on, we learn how to, and how not to hold a gun. This thing is surprisingly heavy for me, feels a little bulky, a little too big for my small hand.

As we get to know each other in the classroom, I learn I’m with a lot of ex-military, ex-police officers and gun enthusiasts, who currently all shoot for the sport of it. I’m wondering, when we actually start shooting, will I keep up? Have I learned enough? Have I paid attention?

Adam Painchaud, Director of the SIG SAUER Academy (YouTube)
Adam Painchaud, Director of the SIG SAUER Academy (YouTube)

It’s time to fire our guns. On cue we all shoot at individual targets at the same time.

We stop and are allowed to look at our targets. I can’t believe it. I’ve hit the bullseye, and more than once! I’m beyond excited, this is so exhilarating!

The rest of the class started calling me “Annie Oakley,” t was an honor coming from my classmates. I did it; I held my own amongst these experienced gun owners.

Annie Oakley was an American sharpshooter and exhibition shooter. Her “amazing talent” first came to light when the then 15-year-old won a shooting match with traveling show marksman Frank E. Butler. (Wikipedia)

I’m confident in my ability to protect myself, my family and what’s mine. I’m enjoying the sport of shooting. It’s challenging, competitive and just an all around blast!

The people I’ve encountered all agree, that in New Hampshire, just assume everyone is packing, and ready to protect themselves. I feel this is a deterrent to most.

In 2013, New Hampshire had the 7th lowest number of gun deaths per capita among the states. (

My gun never killed anyone.

People kill. Whether they use a gun, machete, box cutter, or a bomb. If someone is intent on killing, they will find a way.

Compare my two states:

Massachusetts     New Hampshire

Murders 2010     209   13

Gun Murders 2010       118   5

Gun Ownership 2007   12.6%        30%

Murders (rate per 100,000 inhabitants 2010)    3.2    1.0

Gun Murders (rate per 100,000 inhabitants 2010)      1.8    .4

 (U.S. Gun Deaths)

Taking away all guns isn’t the answer. Someone doesn’t just decide, since I have a gun, I think I’ll kill someone. They are already of a criminal mind, and intent on murder by whatever means. How do we keep guns out of their hands?

I’m not promoting going back to the Wild West days like the infamous Gunfight at the OK Corral, but I do think we all need to be able to protect ourselves.

The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral was a 30-second gunfight between outlaw Cowboys and lawmen that is generally regarded as the most famous shootout in the history of the American Wild West.  Date: October 26, 1881   Death: 3   (Wikipedia)

These cowards go into schools, churches, and movie theaters… preying on the easiest targets.

Would anyone suspect someone in a school to have a gun, or someone in church? Of course not. That’s why the coward goes there, easy targets. The coward is preying on the unsuspecting, the unarmed, and the people he knows are not equipped to fight back.

I can’t help but wonder, if we were all trained and packing, would these murderers, these cowards, be so quick to shoot, if they thought their target(s) might shoot back….

 (Top photo from YouTube video)