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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Outdoors: Don’t forget gun safety in new year

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  • Happy New Year everyone! I hope 2013 is prosperous and happy for you and your families.
    This is my 35th year as an outdoor communicator and I write this column with a heavy heart.
    There has been a rash of firearm violence across the country. The unthinkable shooting tragedy in Newtown, Conn., where children were killed left me like most of the country — speechless.
    I can't imagine this crime against humanity or the pain their families are feeling.
    Words can't describe a crime of this magnitude. I only know the pain I am feeling.
    I hate how opportunists have chosen this tragedy as a political platform to speak out on banning certain types of guns or keeping certain types of guns — but this is always going to happen.
    I only know that children are dead and the sick feeling in my stomach has not gone away.
    My New Year message to you is simple — be careful with firearms and use common sense. Fact is, you can kill with a BB gun or a more powerful gun, so no firearm should be carelessly handled.
    Guns are dangerous in the wrong hands. An outing with firearms should be enjoyable and not reason for national headlines about firearm tragedies.
    The answer to gun safety is more firearm education and better gun locks, or even better, gun safes.
    This is the start to eliminating shooting accidents at home. Children should never have access to firearms, loaded or unloaded.
    I am grateful that free hunter's education programs are available for anyone interested. I once taught these classes and believe everyone who owns a gun should take this course.
    Dad took me shooting when I was young. He even held the gun while I pulled the trigger.
    He was huge on gun safety and my brother and I have never had an accident in over 50 years of owning guns, hunting or target practicing.
    I have never been opposed to background checks for people buying firearms. There are certain individuals that should never own a gun.I will never support the so-called rights of anyone committing crimes with a firearm or any other weapon.
    The monster that shot those kids should have never been allowed access to a firearm, let alone a steak knife. Gun owners should make sure all firearms are secured in safes.
    I am in agreement with armed guards or even teachers carrying concealed firearms at schools — a statement I never imagined writing. These people should have proper training at a police academy with fully qualified instructors.
    My heart goes out to the teachers and principal that risked or gave their lives to save students. May God bless those brave souls.
    Page 2 of 2 - More importantly, may God and common sense in our society never allows this kind of tragedy to happen again.
    My hope is to write a New Year's message next year filled with hope and my love for outdoor activities.
    I pray to God that I will never again have to write another painful message to start the new year.
    Kenneth L. Kieser is an outdoor enthusiast who has 35 years of wildlife journalism expertise.

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