There are a handful of experiences I should have gotten during my childhood growing up in Sussex County, a surprisingly rural part of northwest New Jersey.
One is being knowledgeable and comfortable with firearms: the best way to secure safety in a society with them. In June 2007, I inherited four .22 caliber rifles from grandfather, who died a few months earlier. They are very small firearms, as anyone with even knowledge as basic as mine will tell you, but it made sense that I finally get a full lesson on all of the important lessons: maintenance and use.
Fortunately, growing up where I did, I have no shortage of friends knowledgeable on firearm safety and use. One of them is one of my oldest friends, Jeff Issler, a New Jersey state fire inspector and amatuer war historian who comes from a rich tradition of Sussex County native firearm owners.
We took a drive out to Sunset Shooting range in northeast Pennsylvania. I bought a handful of boxes of rounds and asked a million questions. Jeff shared a couple of his own rifles that he brought, including a fine Mossberg model.
More importantly, I got broader instruction in cleaning, something I had long been lacking.
I look forward to a long, safe relationship with these and perhaps other firearms. Left on my list is better knowledge and comfort with handguns. Plenty more expensive. We’ll see.