When I was nine years old, I killed my first deer, and at 19 after shooting my seventh, I decided that that was enough. Every male in my family had a gun and everything we killed, we ate. We were sportsmen and most of the hunters I knew were decent, law-abiding citizens who hunted to enjoy it and provide food for their families. I see nothing wrong with that.
Sometime during the Vietnam War, I decided that killing deer was something that I was not going to do anymore. For me, killing an animal with a high-powered rifle was far too easy, even when I was young. Bow hunting seemed a more evenly matched contest, and even though I enjoyed venison, I decided to end my hunting ways and stick to fishing. It was a personal, conscious choice on my part.
Twelve years ago though, I came across a garage sale ad in the Daily Star advertising an AK-47 for sale, and the first thing I did was contact then-Oneonta chief of police Jack Donadio to ask him if it was legal to sell an assault rifle at a garage sale.
“Unless there is a law in Otsego County prohibiting it, it’s legal,” he said. I knew there was a ban against assault weapons (which the Bush administration later allowed to expire) at the time, and it was a federal offense to buy such a weapon at a gun store, so I was surprised to learn you could purchase one at a lawn sale or at a gun show.
“What can we do as parents to prevent a young person or a criminal from buying a weapon like this?” I asked.
Jack said: “Have our county reps pass a law that we can enforce, and until that happens, there’s nothing we can do.”