As lawmakers and the White House debate possible changes to gun policy, people with farm backgrounds tell AgWeb.com via Facebook they’re sympathetic to victims of violence but concerned about government overreach.
"Growing up on a farm, you learn from an early age that a gun is a necessary tool, much like the wrenches, etc. in the back of Dad's truck," DeAnna Thomas writes. "You also learn from an early age how to respect and handle a firearm properly. Just like learning the rules of the road, you learn the rules on how to properly handle a firearm.
"All of the changes or proposed changes, shall we say, are because of the horrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. I do not wish that kind of tragedy on anyone. However, I look at how banks, brinks trucks, grocery stores, department stores, etc. have armed security officers in them, but not schools? Maybe, just maybe had a trained security team been in place, they could have stopped the shooter before he got to the students or at least prevented him from getting to more than one classroom."
(Click here to read more reaction to the gun control debate on Facebook.)
Another commenter, Cindi Hayes Dickerson, agrees that it’s impossible to predict when a gun will be needed growing up on a farm.
"We have used them to kill poisonous snakes," Dickerson writes. "A rabid raccoon chased me right up to my door, and he had to be euthanized. Sometimes animals are suffering due to injuries, and it is cruel to not put them down. We enjoy target shooting as well. I really don’t see the need for assault rifles - AK 47's or the like. I am not a huge fan of banning them but don’t see where they are practical for the average person. I agree that background checks should be stricter. I wouldn’t mind waiting."
Whatever changes are made, the focus should be on improved access to mental health care and limited government involvement, several commenters say.
"People control would be more effective than gun control," Micki Warpinski says. "I vote we enforce our current laws for background checks and expand our mental health services."
Safety training should also be required, Kenneth Wayne Bliss says.
"I am for gun control. But not banning certain guns as they plan. People's records need to be checked to see if they have any mental health issues and what medications they are on. People should be required to take a safety training class on how to properly use a firearm and store it securely.
"Most of us farm folks grew up in rural areas and learned to be responsible from our fathers and grandpas. City folks get their training by watching movies and playing video games, then they go out and buy a gun. These people are extremely dangerous."