By Eric Voliva
I grew up as a child with two other brothers and a sister with multiple firearms in our home, and had a healthy respect for their destructive power by the age of 2 when my father took me outside and had me sit beside him while sighting in his .308.
He took time to properly show me how to safely handle, clean, load, and fire different firearms throughout my childhood. By the time I was nine, I was out hunting with him.
By the age of twelve, I had my own rifle. By the time I was fifteen, I was shooting the heads off moccasins and cottonmouths while they were swimming around the dock.
I understood the dangerous nature of firearms before most kids lost their first baby tooth. I knew never to point the gun at anyone, and I only had to be told once. I saw its raw, destructive power on the animals we hunted. I knew it wasn’t a toy. I knew to respect it. My father knew to respect it. His father knew to respect it.
The firearm was a part of our household, just like the oven, microwave, television and car. It was a tool that we learned to respect. I’m very fortunate to have never had to use it in self-defense, but I know that if I ever had/have to, I feel confident in my ability to defend myself, friends and family, and anyone who is in a life-threatening situation.