There's something that bothers me about this story about gun shops teaching kids to shoot from the Chicago Tribune.
GAT Guns in East Dundee started offering these classes about a year ago because parents wanted to bring their kids in to shoot, manager Randy Potter said.
Another store — On Target Range and Tactical Training Center in Crystal Lake — offers a class to children ages 7 to 11 on firing .22-caliber rifles. At GAT, the children are trained on pistols.
“We couldn’t allow them to come in cold, not knowing what the parent and the child’s shooting ability was like,” Potter said. “Well, now what we do in the class is put them through and give them a card that fits in a wallet. They can show it at the counter, and the people at the counter will know that kid has been trained in safety and gun handling so it’s OK to let them shoot.”
The sound of gunfire is constant from the two shooting ranges inside the store, pistols upstairs, larger weapons downstairs. LED lights illuminate paper targets that glide back and forth at the command of the shooter and a touch-screen computer.
On the second floor, rifles line the walls and handguns fill display cases. To the side is a door leading to the classroom, which can hold a few dozen students. The first floor is taken up mostly by display racks of ammunition.
Before the children arrived, Wayne Inzerello sat in front of the room with a roster and a collection of bullets, ranging in size from bigger-than-your-thumb to smaller-than-a-fingernail.
In walked Sergio Meilman with his 12-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter, carrying a gun case, a box of ammunition and two sets of ear protection like airport workers wear.
Inzerello checked the kids in and made sure their names were spelled right, then asked them to take a seat up front. He repeated the routine as the room filled, trying to put the nervous ones at ease.
More than half of the four girls and 13 boys had fired guns before.
I grew up in western North Carolina, where rifles especially were tools that signified you were a responsible person. The implicit understanding growing up in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains was that you learned to care for the rifle, clean it, load and unload it, and all the "boring" safety stuff before you ever were allowed to actually fire one, and that's what the NRA stood for.
Here's my question. Imagine all the kids and the instructors in the above picture were black and/or Latino. Would you still feel the same way about kids in suburban Chicago having firearms class?
I'm thinking the answer is no.
That's what's bothering me about the fetishization of firearms.