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‘Proper Education Is the Key’

  • John Fitzgerald, 53, of Enfield is among the participants in last summer’s Enfield Outing Club pistol and rifle fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project who say that proper education is the key to gun safety. (Valley News - Ryan Dorgan)
  • Mark Curtis, 53, of Enfield. (Valley News - Ryan Dorgan)
  • Evan Fusaro, 25, of Meriden, Conn.<br/> (Valley News - Ryan Dorgan)
  • Roy Holland, 35, Enfield. (Valley News - Ryan Dorgan)
  • John Fitzgerald, 53, Enfield. (Valley News - Ryan Dorgan)

On July 29, 2012, the Valley News covered a pistol and rifle event at the Enfield Outing Club, held to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. The portraits on this page were not published with the original story. However, in light of the recent mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., and the theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., (which occurred just nine days before the Enfield event), the Valley News got back in touch with the subjects of these photographs — all of them experienced gun owners and users for whom firearms are part of their everyday lives — and asked them for their thoughts on how such tragedies might be prevented.

Mark Curtis — 53, Enfield

• Hunter since 13, target shooter, served in the Navy and Army for 23 years.

• Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic rifle

There aren’t enough hunter safety courses. There aren’t enough self-defense courses. There should be more of those. I’ve been trying to get my grandson into a hunter’s safety course like I took when I was little, and they’re all booked up. There are like five in the state and you just can’t get into them. Even this kid who did this crazy thing — it’s possible that if he would have had a hunter’s safety course and realized what you can do what a gun, how horrible it is, he might have had second thoughts at the beginning. And obviously they could coordinate something between the mental health facilities and gun background checks. But you have to be careful there. Just because somebody takes anti-depressants doesn’t mean they can’t be responsible with a gun. It’s a slippery slope. We have to be better educated on recognizing distressed people.

Evan Fusaro — 25, Meriden, Conn.

• Target shooter since 13, served in the Army for four years with one tour in Iraq.

• Rock River Arms AR-15 semi-automatic rifle

Mostly it’s about education. A lot of people think that gun education is just about safety and handling a gun and “this is how you fire it and aim it,” but there’s more to it. The people have to be instructed and taught how to maintain a weapon and secure it safely in their private residence. I have a gun case in my room, but I’m the only one who has a key to it, so nobody can get into it. It’s a responsibility for every gun owner not only to make sure that they safely know how to operate a weapon, but also safely maintain and store a weapon to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. It’s everybody’s responsibility to know what they’re getting themselves into, especially when purchasing such a delicate firearm.

Roy Holland — 35, Enfield

• Enfield Police Department detective, Marine Corps and Vermont National Guard veteran, federal firearms license holder.

• Rock River Arms LAR-6 semi-automatic rifle

My personal opinion is that proper education is the key. Whether that makes it a mandatory license or class before you can purchase a gun, I’m all right with that. I don’t believe you’re impeding on somebody’s Second Amendment right by saying, “OK, you need to go to a class on the proper way to use weapons, carry weapons, and store them.” You’ve got to have a license to drive a car, you’ve got to have a license to fly a plane, you’ve got to have a license to be a plumber, and you’ve got to have a license to be an electrician. I’m not opposed, as a major gun owner, to education.

John Fitzgerald — 53, Enfield

• Hunter, target shooter.

• Stag Arms AR-15 semi-automatic rifle

I don’t know if there’s any 100 percent solution, but there’s got to be a step we can take incrementally to make things better and safer — especially safer for kids. I have my guns locked up and I would recommend that. I worry more about my grandson than somebody breaking in and taking my guns, but it is a gun owner’s responsibility. There is some reasonable diligence required to secure your weapons so that they’re not just readily available for anyone. Other than the background checks, I suppose a class would be the next step as far as getting a little more strict — mandating some type of class, so long as it was reciprocal from state to state. I think we are safer when people are allowed to carry guns — I do believe that — but I’d feel better if everybody who had a gun had some hold on how to handle it.


Letter: Seeking But Not Finding Insight

Monday, January 14, 2013

To the Editor: Regarding your article in the Life & Leisure section of the Jan. 13 Sunday Valley News, “Proper Education Is the Key,” featuring photos of four men holding semi-automatic rifles and asking them how future gun tragedies can be avoided does not seem useful to the debate. Anyone wondering about the context of “useful” has been asleep the …