What’s Behind the Change in Public Perception of Guns?

   02.11.14

What’s Behind the Change in Public Perception of Guns?

When my father was young, he rode the streets of Tampa, Florida with a rifle across the handlebars of his bicycle. It was a .22 Winchester that he’d bought for the whopping sum of $15 (he had to put it on layaway and make payments). He’d ride around looking for things that needed to be shot, rabbits for supper, tin cans, or maybe merthiolate bottles at the city dump.

Nobody ever gave a second thought to a child wandering around with a gun. It was natural and good, and he never shot anyone. None of his friends shot anyone, either, and they fired rifles in ROTC at school.

Things had changed by the time I was a teen in the 1980s, but I could still slip out with a .22 rifle or .410 shotgun if I was hunting nearby and wasn’t going to be seen by many folks between hither and yon. I lived out in the country; if I’d been in the city, things would have been different.

Nowadays, a teen with a gun in public inside most town or city limits would be treated like an instant criminal, and we could expect military-style police to descend upon him or her like an aggressive swarm of Kevlar-clad soldiers. The youth would be lucky to survive without being shot. News cameras and talking heads would turn it into a media circus, spouting terms like “troubled youth” in their push to increase ratings along with public fear of firearms.

That seems wrong to me.

I wonder: when did people begin thinking so differently? Why did Americans’ perceptions of guns change so drastically? Can anything good come of it? And more importantly, what can be done to reverse it?

I sure don’t have all the answers, but it’s something to think about. Please share your thoughts in the comments below, and share with your friends.

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