Gun School: Are Guns a Rite of Passage?


I have several good friends on that island near the Canadian border. Some have permits to carry concealed weapons and regularly "pack" when they come to the mainland to visit Seattle. They carry handguns for protection, a reasonable choice given their perception of the violent world in which they live, or in this case visit.

Other than hunting and sport, it is fear that drives us toward guns. Fear of the government, fear of your neighbor or fear of a stranger, even a stranger on a bicycle. I will admit that those of us in the media are partly responsible for creating this world -- a world that is not actually real. Despite what we see every night on television, the chances of being involved in a street crime or home invasion robbery are miniscule.

Fred's rules can't change that imaginary world. But we can, surely, try to understand the real world better. It's not just the violence that is important. It's the generosity and kindness, so clearly shown after the shooting in Newtown that should instruct our personal choices. Do we move forward as a fearful nation or one that sees the best in each other? Do we need more guns to be safe or fewer?

I'm not sure what Fred would say, but I'd like to think that if most Americans weighed the real need to have and use a weapon with the true costs of gun ownership they'd make the right choice.

Fred didn't get paid for teaching us about guns. Neither did the men and women who supported him. They did it out of a sense of community, kindness and generosity. Fred isn't teaching anymore, but his world is very much alive. The shack by the firing range isn't there anymore, but Fred Leatherwood is still teaching us about guns.

This work is the opinion of the author and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

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