Kristen Lodge: Rethinking gun ownership
In a New Hampshire seacoast town, a man was driving his family home after picking up their son from the bus station. The car was suddenly rammed in the back and as the other car passed, the driver shot Richard Lyczak in the head.Nathan Lyczak, my friend who was in the back seat, got out of the car to help his dad, and the shooter turned around in his car, came back and fired at him. Richard Lyczak died 10 days later, Jan. 22, 1994, the victim of a senseless act by a 19 year-old who was drunk and high. Richard Lyczak was a professor and a Fulbright scholar. He didn’t know the shooter, Jonathan Sokorelis, though he attended the same high school Nathan and I graduated from. Sokorelis was convicted of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 60 years to life in prison for killing Lyczak, and attempting to kill his wife and their son. Their lives have never been the same. At 23, I had never known someone who died, much less who had been murdered. Prior to this day I had never held a gun and didn’t know anyone who owned a gun. Afterward, I didn’t want to see, hold, or touch a gun, and I supported gun control laws with the hope that something like this crime would never happen again.Family history can sometimes determine how we feel about guns and gun laws. I didn’t grow up around guns, didn’t know anyone who hunted. Then, a close friend’s father is killed in a senseless crime involving a gun. Why would I ever want to even own a gun? Or want to know how to shoot one? Now I live in a place where I have conversations about the Second Amendment during dinner, and where women take classes in order to carry a concealed firearm. I live where trap shooting and shooting ranges are commonplace. Last year I took a hunter education class and now can hunt; I never thought that would happen. Our experiences can force us to think outside our comfort zones or hide within them. Holding a rifle at the Hot Sulphur shooting range brought back all the fear and anger from the murder of my friend’s father, yet I shot the rifle to get the certification. In a phone interview this week, Nancy Anderson of Tabernash told me about growing up in Minnesota watching her father hunt and shoot guns. Her background is so different from mine. As an adult, she started hunting and shooting for sport when she met her husband. She joined an all female trap team. Her lesson to me during a phone interview: “Just because you have a firearm doesn’t mean you need to use it. But it’s nice to know that you are not defenseless.” She took the concealed weapon class so she could carry a firearm. She believes that women who carry need to feel comfortable with a firearm. “It doesn’t mean you have to like guns, but if you are comfortable and not scared of them, at least you are comfortable handling it.” I talked to many men and women this week for a carry-conceal story and learned why it’s important to have this right to carry a firearm. And, as I read and watch news stories of crime and violence I recognize the randomness of life and death. Sometimes not within our control, and sometimes, in our control. I believe that self-education never ends. Regardless of the circumstances of birth, gender, race, class, religion, we need to keep learning what we need to know and decide about our own future. I am taking the concealed-carry class because I want to know how to protect myself. Choice can determine our experiences and I want all the knowledge at my disposal. Continuing education is the only way to move out of our self-imposed comfort zones.
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