As I came down the mountain from my hike, I noticed a man on his cell phone. Interested, that there was reception in our remote location I took out my own iPhone, in order to check messages. Thirty-two quickly downloaded. As I stood there reading my email I couldn't help but overhear the man on his cell phone complaining about how the old ammunition he had from the Korean war had blown up in face when he had shot it out of his rifle over the weekend. The powder had burned his arms, worse the police had shown up and checked him for intoxication, which apparently offended the fellow.

Kern County releases more gun licenses than any other county in California. Perhaps it's because there's more wilderness areas, and people do like to hunt. There are also target practice places, shooting ranges, with skeet shooting available. I had enjoyed the challenge of pistol shooting myself at a range called "A place to shoot". Last time I checked gun ownership was not a crime.

It remains a hot topic though. I have heard people say they need a gun for protection, and I have heard people say more people are injured by their own guns than other people's. Is a gun good protection? That depends on who is using it. If you are like me, you may be tempted to tell an intruder "Stop or I'll shoot," or even worse "I'm armed." Which about guarantees you are going to get shot at, if the intruder is armed. You would have been better off staying locked in your bedroom, or slipping out a window. My friend Bob, on the other hand, could protect himself quite well with a gun.

When I lived in Hawai'i a case came up where a young woman, a single parent, living in a high crime neighborhood, shot an intruder who had broken into her house. She was arrested and is doing time now for manslaughter. The man she killed had been breaking into houses in her neighborhood all week. Some would say she did the world a favor by accidently killing him. Unfortunately, she was both poor and inarticulate, and thus did not get off on self defense. Her kids were left with who knows who to raise them while she languishes in jail.

Years earlier I remember reading about a case in Texas where a man shot an unarmed Japanese tourist on his driveway. The victim did not speak English, and was trying to ask for directions. It was Halloween and he was wearing a costume. The shooter felt threatened when the victim didn't reply. The shooter in Texas was completely acquitted, even though the victim was unarmed, not even inside the guy's house. So my point is, if you get a gun for self protection, check out the laws in your state and county. They obviously vary greatly. Pop by your local sheriff's station and ask them, what would happen if you shot a person inside your house, what about out on your lawn? Would the time of day make a difference?

My friend a retired cop is a full believer in the right to bear arms. He feels that crime goes down in cities where people are packing. I suppose if the owner of a convenience store were able to shoot the high on crack robbers, those robbers would be unable to return. I doubt though, the reality of shooting making crack addicts think twice about robbery. Drug Addicts don't think anything through, that's why they are drug addicts. If they could use logic, they would figure out the drugs they are using are wreaking havoc on their bodies. That's why jail time and death penalties have little effect on their decision to commit crimes. They don't plan ahead, they don't plan on getting caught, and they're muddled.

I have a number of friends who are ex-military and I am surprised by the number of them who have given up on guns. They're shot enough people, and don't care to shoot any more. Some take a karate approach to it, and say, "If it's only money I'll give a mugger my money, I don't care to kill anyone." If more people thought this way, school shootings wouldn't exist.

I sometimes wonder if Harris and Klebold, of Columbine fame, belonged to a gun club if they would have refrained. Practice shooting at clay pigeons can give a person a healthy respect to the power of a gun. In the immediate aftermath of the school shooting tragedy the media blamed the victims, saying that if high school were not so cruel, if the kids didn't bully and tease the shooting could have been avoided. Personally I doubt that. It's a nice theory that takes all responsibility out of the shooters' hands. Yet they were the ones who stockpiled the weapons, built homemade bombs, and wrote a school video about their future plan to kill.

Shortly after the massacre schools everywhere censored plays, short stories and videos for "inappropriate content" as if not seeing it would make it go away. I am of the belief that having the information can be useful. If I thought a young person were about to kill me I could start wearing a bulletproof vest to school. Their parents may or may not have been alerted. One wonders what sort of parenting was going on, I would guess it was more neglectful than abusive, because the boys were perpetrators not victims.

In the Kip Kinkle shooting that occurred not long after much more was revealed about the shooter's parents, because they died. We learned they had spent their lives trying to get psychological help for their son and were aware he was dangerous. Would they still be alive if guns were controlled? I would argue, probably not, as Kip could have beat them to death in rage or stabbed them easily enough. Would they be alive still if there were less violence on TV? That's another question.