Firearm Culture

As kids, we run around playing cops and robbers with shiny toy guns, water guns and foam-shooting guns, yet we don't dream of becoming criminals one day. We don't really want to hurt anyone -- we just want to impress the neighborhood with how cool our "weapons" are and, well, win! Somehow, in the midst of the gun control debate, some people fear that any individual citizen could grow up to misuse a firearm to hurt someone. There is this underlying fear that our neighbors can't be trusted and that guns will only resort to more crime. While the debate over guns continues to work itself out in Congress, let's take a look at America's fascination with guns.

After the toy gun stage, teenagers then move onto paintball guns, pellet guns and airsoft guns. Various games can be played as kids duck, run and dart through fields, woods and obstacle courses. Getting hit with a paintball or a pellet certainly stings a little -- not just physically, but also in pride, but the effects are not lethal. This sort of horseplay is much like animals battling for supremacy in the wild. To further demonstrate their dominance, some kids buy BB guns, a firearm which can kill squirrels, rabbits, birds and even deer.

Adults looking to exercise their Second Amendment right may be interested in handguns for self-defense or long guns for sport. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, there are more than 100,000 defensive gun uses each year. Every day citizens are able to protect themselves from robberies, home invasions and other crimes simply by possessing a firearm. To get their money's worth, shooting ranges abound, where citizens can go to hone their shooting skills with some friends. Sporting rifles are involved in hunting hobbies for 12.5 million Americans. Hunting is a way of demonstrating skill, but also to provide for one's family, just like our ancestors used to do.

Before purchasing any type of gun, it's important to know the federal and local firearm regulations, as there are a number of laws to consider. Some gun regulations don't allow guns to be discharged or carried within city limits, for example. In some cases, this rule even applies to a non-lethal pellet gun. Individuals must be careful not to modify their guns in any way, which typically involves stiff fines and even jail time. States like New York, California, New Jersey, Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts have some of the most stringent gun restrictions, while states like Virginia, Vermont, Arkansas and Colorado have lax gun laws. Federally, certain people cannot own guns -- like those who have been to mental institutions or deemed mentally defective, those with restraining orders placed against them or involved in domestic violence indictments, dishonorably discharged veterans, illegal aliens and people who have been convicted of crimes.

Technorati Tags: ,