Look doesn’t make guns deadly

I own a Ruger 10/22.

I suspect many, many rural families own the same rifle. It’s a mainstay when it comes to teaching youth to use firearms responsibly. And it’s inexpensive to shoot.

It’s also very versatile. In minutes, I can remove the wood stock. And for about $100, I can make it look like an expensive “assault rifle.” I can even buy large-capacity banana clips for it.

But for all the “tactical” cosmetics, it would still be just a fairly standard, semi-automatic .22 caliber rifle. It’s nothing special. No big bullets. No knock-down force. Not a long range.

It’s a great all-around gun for country life. You can chase off coyotes with it. You can protect yourself with it. And you can teach your children how to safely handle a firearm.

There’s no reason anyone needs to be 21 to own it.

So, if you haven’t guessed, the gun-control legislation being moved by extreme leftwing city dwellers in the Legislature irks me. And it bothers me more that gun-control advocates are using — yes using — teenagers to try to take away something rural residents have long considered important to their families.

Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, thinks rural residents should have to be at least 21 years old to purchase a semi-automatic rifle with a “tactical” appearance, even something as common as my .22 caliber.

I’m flabberghasted.

Frockt’s Senate Bill 6620 would take away the right of an adult — last I checked you’re an adult at age 18 — to purchase a simple .22 caliber firearm.

He and supporters of the bill are either ignorant of firearms or so politically motivated that they don’t care to understand how firearms are used “on the farm.”

I know you’ve heard it before, but a firearm’s appearance doesn’t enhance its ability to kill.

Take Airsoft rifles and BB guns these days. Many are designed to look like M-16s and other military rifles. They have an intimidating look.

Yet, they fire either a small, round metal or plastic BB. No gun powder. No shell. No muzzle flash.

They may kill a bird, a mouse or other rodent. But, in general, they’re not likely to cause serious injury to a person.

The same can almost be said of a semi-automatic .22 caliber rifle. Sure, it can injure and kill. But the small size, shorter range and lack of knock-down power, render it mostly ineffective for use as a “tactical” weapon, regardless of how it looks.

I grew up in Benton City, about a half-mile outside city limits. As a kid, I was given my first .22 caliber rifle at age 10.

I learned how to use it safely. I maintained it, and it became a tool for me as I grew into my teen years.

Heck, I even made a couple bucks now and then using it to kill gophers in pastures.

For me, it was a tool. And having it was a rite of passage, of sorts, for this country boy.

I want my daughter, and someday my grandchildren, to have the same experience with a firearm as I did. I want her, and them, to grow up respecting firearms, and not afraid to use them.

No matter how they look, semi-automatic firearms like my old .22 have a place in rural America, and in Eastern Washington.

Senate Bill 6620 is poorly written and ill-conceived. I’m hoping this idea dies when this year’s Legislative session ends.

— Roger Harnack is the editor and publisher of The Daily Sun. Email him at rharnack@dailysunnews.com.


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