Might be Iím misreading the tea leaves a bit here. Wouldnít be the first time. Still, itís worth a mention.
For several years now, Iíve been helping to teach a basic hunter education course. Most states now require them before you can purchase a hunting license.
These courses cover firearms safety, conservation, ethics, first aid, and survival - to name a few of the topics - plus thereís both a written and a firearms-handling test on the last night.
The results from such courses have been remarkable. Since states began requiring them, the number of hunting accidents nationwide has plummeted.
Iíve wandered a bit off course here because I was going to tell you about something Iíve noticed over the past several years.
Maybe itís part of what started when ď9/11Ē happened and people truly realized that there are, indeed, individuals and groups out there who are bent on causing harm whenever and wherever they can.
Maybe itís part of what started when we developed a program whereby airline pilots could be armed.
True, that was a small part of a wider change - arming highly trained and extremely competent individuals to whom weíve already entrusted mega-million dollar aircraft and several hundred lives - but we did it and many of us wondered why we hadnít done it a long time before.
Still, since itís been implemented and I ride a lot easier knowing that, if a bunch of loons attempt to take over an airliner in order to fly it into the side of an immovable object, there are individuals up front with the wherewithal to say ďSorry, sport, not on my watch.Ē
Maybe itís part of what started when more and more of us simply got tired of reading or hearing about all of the outrages that can happen to us and took to heart the old saying that police are only minutes away, but the time you have might be measured in seconds.
Iím not sure when it started or why, but what Iíve observed over the past several years is that all of our classes are filling up much faster and a lot earlier each year and that itís not just men taking the course. More young boys and girls are signing up and women are taking the course too.
Whatís remarkable about this is the fact that we live in a time wherein young boys and girls can be expelled from school for pointing fingers at one another and saying ďbangĒ and there are still moms and dads willing to take their kids (and themselves) through a course wherein these same boys and girls can - safely - be introduced to firearms and, then, take up the sport themselves.
Iíll get a few e-mails on this one. Normal stuff. ďGuns are evil.Ē ďGun owners are Neanderthals.Ē ďWeíre teaching kids to kill.Ē
None of which are, by the way, true.
What is true, however, is that kids going through the course that emphasizes firearms safety with their parents is a good thing. For sure itís better than learning about firearms through all of the foolishness that they see at a movie or on television.
In addition to this, I have a good friend who teaches a basic handgun safety course. He tells me that his courses have been filling up as soon as he offers them, that he could fill as many courses as he wanted to teach and, again, that itís not just men taking his course.
Thereís also been a huge surge in gun and ammunition sales since the recent presidential election. Likely, this is based on the belief that Ė given the beliefs and prior statements of many in the current administration as regards firearms Ė more restrictive laws are coming and many individuals wish to purchase while they can.
But what Iíve seen has been going on since long before this past election.
Americans are a pragmatic people. Most understand that firearms are simply tools that need to be handled carefully and with respect. Most know that proper training in the handling of firearms is important. Many also simply wish to pass on a hunting tradition to their kids.
From what Iím seeing though, maybe, just maybe, some common sense as regards the place of firearms in our society is making a comeback.