What are the factors that can protect against violence with firearms?

By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

A fortunate fact was that my high school locker was of the long variety. Had is been shorter, I might not have been able to stow my shotgun there while I went to class.

Administrators generally frown on kids bring shotguns to school these days, but in the late 1950s  this was no big deal during small game hunting season.

My friends and I would don our red jackets, reassemble the shotguns and head for the fields after classes ended.

This clearly is one of those facts that shows how the world has changed in nearly 60 years.

Many of my fellow high school students were hunters, and the only casualty was a wrestling star who one year took a few birdshot pellets in his leg, thanks to a ricochet.

The western world seems to be divided into two groups: Those who are comfortable with firearms and those who are not. The first group accepts firearms as a necessity, a tool. Like a table saw, these tool have to be used responsibly.

I first fired a pistol when I was 8. My father, once a professional soldier, stacked up some newspaper bales, and I emptied a dozen rounds of .32-caliber slugs into them under his watchful eye.

A few weeks later I watched one of my teachers go ballistic because another students had stuck accidentally three .22-caliber shells in a crack in his desk. She obviously was among the second group.

Time was when most young men faced compulsory military service in the United States. Consequently they received firearms experience in basic training.

Some years later when I was an editor at a daily newspaper in a western Colorado town, we learned that then-president Gerald Ford would drop by for a campaign visit.

An advanced team of Secret Service agents showed up to check out the landscape. No one bothered to tell them that deer hunting season was in full swing.

Every second pickup had a high-powered rifle and scope hanging in the rear window. Washington was in panic. Just as now, the hunters were not those who should be at the top of the worry list.

President Barack Obama made an effort Monday to tighten U.S. gun ownership.  That story is HERE! However, none of the initiatives seems designed to prevent criminals or terrorists from becoming armed.

Obama certainly is aware that the U.S. Second Amendment is not about hunting. The article is there in the Bill of Rights
to protect the people from a repressive government.

In Costa Rica, despite restrictive laws and efforts to tighten them, the illegal gun culture flourishes.

Television viewers were treated Monday to surveillance camera footage from a bus in La Carpio. Two young crooks held up a bus driver and took his money Saturday. When they finished, one thug stood outside the bus and appeared to have exchanged words with the driver. Then the crook aimed and fired four pistol shots into the man at the wheel. The driver died going to a nearby hospital.

There also have been a record number of assassinations by firearms in the country over the last year.

First-class firearms are easily available for a price on the black market here. Younger criminals who lack money make their own rude weapons with pipes and spare pieces of metal.

What Obama and Costa Rican officials have to consider is what are the factors that changed society from one where 16-year-old high school students harm nothing but rabbits and a few squirrels.  Now there are teens who are cold-blooded killers.

The security ministry is proud that it has destroyed more firearms than any other Central American country. Here the minister, Gustavo Mata Vega, and a staffer chop up one.

The security ministry is proud that it has destroyed more firearms than any other Central American country. Here the minister, Gustavo Mata Vega, and a staffer chop up one.

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