If the cover of this section makes you nervous, well, it's supposed to. Guns make people uncomfortable. Even as a subject, start talking about guns and it's as though you were brandishing one. Perhaps that's because it is one of those topics about which people seem to have very strong opinions.
Personally, my attitude toward owning a gun is roughly the same as my attitude toward buying lottery tickets. You probably think that I'm speaking in non sequiturs but, actually, the two concepts are related. It all has to do with statistical probabilities, which can be comforting or disturbing, depending upon your frame of reference.
According to statistics, it is more likely that a drunken terrorist or a tornado-flung oak will kill me en route to the convenience store to buy the lottery ticket than that I will ever scratch my way into a higher tax bracket.
As far as guns are concerned, according to another set of stats, I am more likely to die in my home of gunshot wounds if I own a gun than if I do not. Add to that equation that I'm not all that handy--it has been over a year and I have yet to graduate to PROGRAMMING in the VCR manual because I am still stuck on CLOCK--and I can state with some authority that gun ownership is probably not a great idea for me.
But according to another set of statistics, which can be found in staff writer Jeff Meyers' Centerpiece story, there are a lot of regular folks--most of whom, I'll bet, have figured out how to program their VCRs--who are buying guns for their homes and taking lessons on their proper use.
Meyers went to local gun stores and shooting ranges in search of subjects for this story, and although he found plenty of people to talk to, not all of them were that interested in talking back.
"I found gun owners suspicious and wary of reporters. They assumed that any article on guns would be a negative anti-gun diatribe portraying them as trigger-happy rednecks with gun racks mounted in their pickups," Meyers said.
"The gun owners I met all were down-to-earth, responsible citizens focused on gun safety. They enjoy a day at the firing range the way golfers like an outing at the driving range. And they feel persecuted by a media and public they believe does not understand the issues."
To understand the issues himself, Meyers spent a lot of time test firing a Taurus .38 Special. A tough job, but someone had to do it.
"You're undoubtedly wondering if after this article I'm going to buy a gun," he said. "The answer is no. I'll probably get a dog."