January 06. 2013 6:03PM

Your Turn, NH: A competitive shooter reflects on calls for gun control


At the risk of being labeled a gun nut, I am offering my opinion on gun control after the tragedy in Newtown, Conn. I belonged to the NRA for most of my 25 years in the military because I was an active competitor in military and civilian pistol and rifle matches. To compete in sanctioned matches, you had to belong.

During those years, the NRA had a legitimate purpose, promoting competition and shooter education. Once Wayne Lapierre took over, the NRA became a group of surly people pushing a new agenda. I cancelled my NRA membership and reluctantly gave up competition. I'd burned through thousands of rounds punching holes in paper targets, and I still maintain my shooting skills privately.

Competitive pistol shooting requires at least three different weapons: a high-power hardball gun, a wadcutter gun (usually both .45 caliber) and at least one small-bore (.22 cal.) pistol. Prudent competitors had backup weapons in case of a malfunction during a match. That's a requirement of at least three, but probably five pistols. Competitive rifle was a bit easier, since you could get by with one high-power (30-06, 308, etc.), and one small-bore rifle, as long as you only shot iron-sight matches. You would need double that number if you were firing in scoped matches.

I've been an avid hunter since I was 12, and I have hunted large and small game here and abroad. Hunting a variety of animals requires at least one high-power rifle, one shotgun and one small-bore rifle. Then add many hunters who hunt with a pistol. Don't forget trap and skeet shooters.

Now, how are you going to reconcile these purely sporting uses with the nutjobs who want to limit everyone to two guns? Hunters or target shooters know that won't work; do the math!

I concede that assault rifles have no functional role in the private sector, and I believe they should be well-regulated. Taxing them would be one partial solution, but placing stricter controls on them, like those already in place for fully automatic weapons, would help immeasurably. Taxing gun owners who use their weapons for sporting use? Why don't we tax drunk drivers while we're at it?

Registering guns has historically led to subsequent confiscation in many "civilized" countries. Many politicians in this country fear an armed populace because the masses may someday rise up and overthrow our corrupt system. Armed guards in schools? OK, then the crazy shooters will find another forum: churches, malls, arenas, etc. will all be fair game. Armed guards everywhere? Holy Police State, Batman! We can't do that; this is America!

It's time for gun reform, but it needs to be approached in a sensible and fair manner. Are you listening, New Hampshire U.S. senators and representatives? And we absolutely don't need guns in the State House or on college campuses.

Ron Godbout lives in Northfield.