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Pop and Leo
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For Pop and Leo

The following letter was in reply to WebMD's "Safe Gun Storage Saves Kids' Lives,” which stated that child and teenage suicides were more common in homes with guns and that accidental shootings might be as well, but that safe gun storage would reduce both accidental shootings and suicides.

March 14, 2005
A Reply By:
Lawrence J. Braico
Regional Vice President
The Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, Inc.
(The Official NRA State Association, Chartered 1934)
"If you've got a gun, and you've got a kid, you've got a problem." So opens the February 8th article from "WebMD Medical News", with references from a "study"(?) led by Doctor David C. Grossman, and published in JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association).
No one I know, including me, has any problem with storing a firearm in a safe manner. We have a problem with being 'told' in what 'safe' manner to store them in our own homes, - under penalty of the law.
Bearing the legislative lessons of the recent past in mind,astute gun ownersview such shenanigans as the precursors to yet another cloaked-in-law devious trap laid in a field already clutered with snares 'purposely' made to catch the wrong targets, i.e. lawful owners of firearms,- any kind of firearms, from 'anyone' who is not a police officer, government agent, or active soldier. We have a problem with the loss of yet another part of civilian firearms ownership (i.e. storage) to law enforcement authorities who are already thwrarted from their original honorable missions by being pressed into a service representing less and less the body "The People", - and more and more the nation wrecking, personal prejudices of lawful gun ownership's enemies. These are the same authorities whose blood-and-guts human components are rountinely sold down the political river by their own politically appointed upper echelon; - most notably in our largest, graft-rich cities. Remember the Clinton Crime Bill with its staged photo-ops with coerced 'prop-cops? -then remember the Clinton pardons. This whole process is brought centerstage by segments of a dime-novel, frothing-at-the-mouth,complaisant media,- and the in concert, oath defying politicians whose main purpose in life is being re-elected.When successful, the result is defiant to liberty's best interests;-not the least being her Second Amendment, - the bane of tyrants. When on this planet we live, America does cease to live,so will liberty cease to live. Obviously many people think that is a good idea. I do not; and neither do the overwhelming majority of gun owners I know, who do or do not, belong to any of the nations gun rights organizations.
Point;- the unpopularity of gun locks among people who actually own guns. Just try giving them away at an outdoor show for example as I have. The response is not what one would expect for a give-away, - most people decline. Quality safes, although the way to go,are expensive and cumbersome and therefore not an option to many households. Ask a gun store sales person what the degree of sales is in gun locks, the answer is: "next to nothing". Gun locks are jusifiably and widely viewed as the equivalent of tying anchors to life jackets. Common sheet-metal snips, available at any hardwear counter, easily defeat the cable locks provided, by law, (i.e. jammed down our throats) with every new handgun sold. That law, as all the rest of these 'laws' are made to harass gun ownership rather than effect safety. I'm sure these creeps took special glee when they made it 'law' to mar fine, artistically crafted firearms by stamping on their barrels unsightly "safety" warnings to read the instruction manual before using; - along with a lot of other asinine dictatorial taints. I'm sure because I've seen it in the giddy, child like behavior of NY Senator Charles Schumer, or Connecticut's Teddy Kennedy,or Barbara Boxer of California, - Democrats all , - after they've won a victory against the Second Amendment. You would think that they and their party would have learned a lesson on November 2, 2004, but nooo,not these 'Extremists'. 'Safety' ? No-no-no-no-no, -It's about 'power'. Who owns the weaponry has always been about power, - and trust. Do you trust multi-millionaire retread Senator Frank Lautenberg?, or "I've got 65 million dollars and I don't know what to do with the rest of my life", - Senator Jon Corzine? I don't. Why should I? They don't trust me. But then why should they?, I champion the written word of that document of "The Law" intended to keep them in their rightful, lawful place. These 'holier-than-thou' "Honorable" elitists shrink from the Constitution like Dracula from the cross; just as the Founding Fathers envisioned. Nostrodemus had nothing on those old boys when it came to peering into the future.
Aside from the aforementioned reasons, the big problem with the good doctors' approach to 'safety' is that the "locking up" of guns fosters a climate of ignorance, distrust, and most dangerous, "taboo". Over and above all other methods of approaching safe firearms storage is the human mind. If we achieve safe firearms storage, in the human mind, then we achieve the ultimate mode of safe firearms storage. But "safe firearms storage" is not enough for "firearms prohibitionists."
To we who exercise this most telling of American freedoms, it is viewed as an unequaled and eagerly anticipated opportunity to pass on to the next generation their Constitutional, as well as their human right to be armed. We revere this right of the individual as essential not just to hunting and shooting, but in order to effect self protection against unprovoked, life threatening attack. The ultimate seriousness of firearms ownership and use envelopes an arena of instructional opportunity not found anywhere else; - not on any rink, field, or campus. Not even hunting's sister companion fishing can compare because the catch can sometimes be sucessfully thrown back. The realm of the gun is, at its core, the realm of life and death, of triumph or defeat, of responsibility, or of abdication of responsibility. In the critically acclaimed 1978 cinematic masterpiece "The Deer Hunter" there is a scene where 'Mike', played by Robert DeNiro, holds up a rifle cartridge to his not so serious hunting buddies, and says: "....You see this? This is this. This ain't something else. This is this!" It was not a very articulate statement, yet it was of profound magnitude to span the ages, -if, one has the ears to hear it. To anyone else it is either a mystery, or simply, -wrongly interpeted. But to tens of millions of responsible Americans,"This" is no mystery. "The Deer Hunter" received nine Academy Award nominations and five Oscars, including Best Picture.
I suppose that the great truth of this responsibility is one aspect of why we fight so hard for what we are so familiar with, and easy around, -all to our own great sense of achievement and ever-present, because required, respect. The appropriate rules for the appropriate settings simply "must" be followed; and they are just as simple and easy to follow as wearing your underwear "inside" your pants. They are, foremost among others, - "...Keep that muzzle pointed downrange", - "Keep that action open", (when not in a firing mode),-"Be mindfull of what lies beyond your target",- "Treat every gun as if it were loaded", "Never rely on the safety",- "Keep your finger off the trigger until you're ready to shoot",- and The "Big" One: -"Never, "Never", Not Even For The Briefiest Fraction Of a Second, Ever Allow Your Gun To Point At Anything "YOU" Aren't to Ready and Willing To Kill or Destroy. "The fact that the responsibility of enforcing these ruleslie with all the people involved results in them rountenly being adhered to, and not relegated to a lesser status; -of course we are talking about legal activities here and not wayward criminal heart breakers indiscriminately firing fine handguns held in a clown-like manner of sideways or upside down. It is hardly surprising that the shooting sports are so absolutely low in injuries as to be almost statistically non-existant; -a fact completely disregarded by the opponents of the mere existence of firearms; - except for themselves of course.
In my Father's house (circa 1955) you could add,: "Ya don't pull 'no' triggers" (dry fire), and "No loading the gun in the house. "At the instant of any infraction of the rules of safety, was the certainty of a humiliating downgrading. God bless his soul, 'Pop' was "the law". He knew how long five days of school was to a kid thinking of another gun toting adventure in the upcoming weekend's woods, fields, or marsh, and how the threat of missing it was worse than any corporal punishment the meanist disaplinarian could conjure up; -or so it seemed. It was also from him that I gained my distain for "gun-control" and those self-serving, anti-gun, Loretta Weinberg(D-NJ, Dist.37) type, Socialist busy-bodies who would tell him/us different about "his" law, in his/our house/home. Being Christians, we didn't need any other coercion to act civilly from any other force from outside our door, -being Americans, we held a healthy resentment of that intrusion,- that force. Therein did lie all the difference in the "free world" to us; - a free world which we were assured, by our mostly unfettered ownership of our firearms, was our unparalled good fortune to be born into and still live in; -America; - America; - sweet sweet America! It was a time when gun racks were parts of living rooms and juvenile rifle teams were commonly taught by big city police departments; - a time when going to bed at night without locking your door was not so unusual, even though we lived only across the Hudson River from Manhattan, in West New York, New Jersey. It was also a time when 'just the thought' that the theft of ones guns, from ones own home, could be construed as the fault of the victim, to the point of criminal prosecution, would have been considered madness. Today, unfortunatly, it is a common political platform and badge of honor; for some.
It was at our dinner table, while talking about hunting and guns that I first heard about a thing called "The Constitution". As soon as I had been trusted enough to shoot a "real" gun, a .22 rifle, at age seven, I stopped playing Cops and Robbers, and Cowboys and Indians. Somehow I just couldn't point a toy gun at a friend and say "bang-bang, you're dead" anymore. Opponents of legal firearms ownership often point to, -''The culture of guns"- and how the acquisition of a firearm by child from parent is "seen as a right of passage"; - well it is, - but what do they know about it? Do they know the feeling I experienced as a seven year old looking 'down' at who were only yesterday my "playmates" because the night before I was shown a discipline that there simply was no going back from? Can they at all appreciate the positive reinforsement of the young human character this event fostered? I don't see how.There were many more firsts to come, involving good people, great dogs, spectacular landscapes, soul-revealing encounters, and guns, - always guns. To this Rebecca Peters,aka Sarah Brady on an international scale, says, quote:".... Get another hobby." To her and all her like I say: "I Don't Think So!" Poor Rebecca, she can't tell the difference between a hobby and a right; - between playing rugby and writing a piece like this without fear of gulag. However, even that right, (The First Amendment) is under attack by the gun-control crowd. The John McCain / Russ Feingold Amendment, (now law which withstood a Supreme Court challenge), is a gag order on political discussion by entities not officially deemed "news organizations." It moves toward the creation of a "Ministry of Propaganda". Truly, the phrase "First Gun Control, Then Total Control" is truth condensed.
We kept our guns in an old gutted glass china cabinet Pop confiscated over my poor mother's protests. It had a lock on it, but for as long as I could remember it was never functional. The rule was simple, I could bring my friends to the cabinet to look through the glass to see the guns, but never open it. It stayed that way until I was fourteen because Pop said that's how old "The Law" said I had to be before I could be licensed to hunt by myself; - and if, by that fact, I could 'lawfully' be Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, or Seargent York,without adult supervision, well then, the young 'man' had arrived! The trust therein embodied would be a lifetime standard to be guarded with jealous pride.
I am convinced that i fone acknowledges and follows the rules of safe gun ownership for the seriousness they imply to the subject they encompass, the chances you won't ever, "ever", have a tragic gun accident are as excellent as anything planned for could hope to be.Turn your face from them, or worse because you've been shielded(?) from them, never learn them at all, - and ''then'' have a firearms encounter/situation develop, "then", "possibly", as the do-good Doctor Nazario warns , "...You've got a problem." A gun related "problem" simply does not materialize because: "...If you've got a gun, and you got a kid, you've got a problem." Kid + Gun = Problem, Not! I hope, for the sake of his patients, the good doctor stays with medicine; - he is no mathematician. When these Johnny-come-latelys of 'gun-safety' talk about the subject, they come off sounding like adolescent adults who are convinced that they've just discovered sex on behalf of all mankind.
My state affiliate of The NRA, The Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, Inc., has been actively seeking that segment of the population who want to be instructed in the safe excercise of their Second Amendment rights, but don't know where to turn. Our ranks of NRA Certified volunteer instructors now total well over 100 men and women who are ready willing and able to give their time and expertise to instruct people 'of all ages', (10 yrs. & up), in the safe enjoyment of the shooting sports. We 'do' something to effect the goal of firearms safety and profiency,- we 'instruct'. We 'teach'. We light candles. While the enemies of the Second Amendment incesently curse the dark in order to effect their publicly proclaimed ultimate goal of firearms prohibition. It is a strategy which endorses and fosters firearms ignorance,- resulting in misuse, fear, and accidents.Then they have the gall to turn around and blame us; - I DON'T THINK S-O-O-O-O-O!
Certainly there is "good" in this activity of ours, - all of 'ours' as Americans, -that is worthy of being passed on. Certainly there is necessity in this activity of ours that is primary in its function and kinship to freedom and liberty continued. Though this truth may not be starkly apparent on the Sunday afternoon firing line or trap or skeet field, it, - i.e. the sweet smell of "Freedom Confirmed", -still yet waifs in the air. Certainly this great truth is absent in the presentations of the Michael Moore and Rosie O'Donnel, and Charles Schumer and Jon Corzine detractors of such aspects of the issue.
I say "issue" because I find the word "debate" inappropriate, as there should be no "debate" as to the continuence of our home, America, as the pinnacle of worldly freedom as embodied in the individual and his unalienable rights; - the absolute refuge of freedom confirmed by its one-person-one-vote, armed populance status, standing and working, thriving, and sometimes dying, side by side, day to day, since 1776 as freedom's torch. All this achieved in a world heretofore devoid of such an avalanche of advances by humanity, for all humanity, even though existent with human societies for over ten-thousand years prior. This is what the many times terrible sacrifices of our veterans, past and present,as well as all preceding generations of the human family as a whole, must be recognized for, and counted as, -with little room for "debate" because JAMA and Rosie, and Jon Corzine, and Frank Lautenberg, would equate poor governmental management of armed sociophats with legal ownership of whatever type of firearm Constitutionally owned and used,- no matter what kind of mechanism is employed to load the whatever number, or caliber, of next round.
So, Mr. DeNoon and Dr.s' Nazario and Grossman, and all your supporters, if "you" want to "lock up 'your' safety", - as firearms ignorant, anti-gun extremist, and hypocritical concealed-carry-pistol-permit-holder California Democratic Senator Diane Fienstein coined it, - well knock yourselves out. If you choose not to own firearms, that's fine too. Just leave us alone! Because you see, your motives are not fooling anyone but the ungrateful and ignorant harbingers of their own freedoms' demise; - you camouflaged John Kerry goose hunters.
Epilogue: My aforementioned home town of West New York, New Jersey, is in Hudson County. The County Seat is Jersey City. The corrupt Mayor of Jersey City for thirty years, from 1917 to 1947, was Frank "I Am The Law" Hague. He was beloved by many of the poor wretches of his "Horseshoe District" for doling out bags of coal in the harsh New Jersey winters from city firehouses, - while he wore fur collar and cuff cashmere coats, and tailor made three piece suits, and his Swiss bank accounts swelled.His power was such that Franklin D.Roosevelt courted his support in his presidential bids. He gained infamy when he deemed himself "The Law" when reminded that the real law stood in his way. He was turned out of office largely by World War II veterans returning from the horrors of their victory in the name of Liberty over European and Asian thugs. They were young men who had sacrificed plenty and were not about to put up with tyrannical rule in their own "Home Town, USA." Unfortunately he was replaced with ahack. Frank Hague's legacy of political machine supremacy haunts Hudson County and New Jersey politics to this day.
In a speech before The Jersey City Chamber of Commerce, on January 12, 1938, he said: "....We hear about Constitutional rights, free speech and the free press. Every time I hear those words I say to myself, "That man is a Red, That man is a communist." You never heard a real American talk in that manner."
I dedicate this piece to Leo Gatoni Sr.; - US Marine, decorated veteran of the Pacific Theater of War WWII, family man, former Mayor of North Bergen, Life Member of The NRA, gentleman, and, .....the Hudson County Sheriff's Officer, and "real American",who served Frank "The Law" Hague his subpoena papers; - and, most notably, in the rememberances of this once young man,.....member of our/my neighborhood hunting club.
Lawrence J. Braico
Regional Vice President
The Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, Inc.
(The Official NRA State Association)


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