Monday was the anniversary of the “Shot heard ‘round the world.” The phrase, I’ve learned, is from the opening stanza of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Concord Hymn.” The poem describes the significance of the battle in Concord, Massachusetts, on April 19, 1775 and how it became the beginning of the American Revolution. The words emphasized how one critical event triggered something of global importance. Just reading about it gave me chills. It was a turning point in our history, a bloody one; one that is at the pinnacle of the freedoms we enjoy today.
It made me think about the Second Amendment in our Constitution, adopted as part of our Bill of Rights, the right to bear arms.
You see the last time I was working in Boston, at the Fox affiliate at the time, I did a story on a class designed to teach women how to handle a firearm. Before that day, I had never touched, held or handled a gun. I knew them as weapons. I saw them in holsters, in the hands of criminals on TV, and had been dispatched (too many times) to scenes when they were in the wrong hands. I really didn’t like them and hated the damage they can inflict.
I went to the class with so much apprehension. I didn’t want to be swayed by the NRA guy giving the class. I just wanted to get the information, interview the different women who were taking the class, find out why, and be done with it.
I arrived and found there was first a lengthy safety class, then four different stations; introducing women to different guns at each. There was skeet and trap shooting. Both utilized shotguns and both targets were clay discs. There are many differences but for simplicity, in skeet the clay pigeons are released from a tower, in trap they’re released from the ground. (Serioiusly, there are way more differences and if you want to know more click here for more details.) There was an indoor shooting range for handguns and then an outdoor range for semi-automatic rifles.
I went in, convinced I would not be touching a firearm, but my curiosity got the best of me. I wanted to know what it was these women were handling. I wanted to know how they got over their apprehension. I didn’t want to be just a spectator, I wanted to report on the experience. And what a better place than here and now.
What I learned was that guns are not weapons until they’re used to inflict harm. I can appreciate the thrill of sport shooting and was appreciative of the gun safety I learned. I still can’t understand the need for semi-automatic guns and I’m not sure anyone can change my mind on that one.
But most importantly, I realized, the same constitution that gives a citizen the right to bear arms is the one that allows me to report the news. I’m a staunch advocate of the First Amendment and it’s how I figure those with guns feel about the Second Amendment. That “shot heard ’round the world” reverberated the sounds of democracy. It birthed our Constitution so I celebrate it.
(*video shot and edited by Scott Ripley)