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My father grew up in the country, where, as a boy he hunted and fished and went off for days on hunting trips by himself.

At 17, Dad joined the Navy, the week after Pearl Harbor -- all his friends volunteered for the service that week, along with his brother and one of his sisters.

Engineers run through in my father's family for one hundred years: the Navy taught Dad Electrical Engineering, he became a ship's electrician.

They also trained him to be a Gunner's Mate, and Dad worked guns so large he developed some permanent hearing loss.

Dad got a commendation for shooting down a Kamikazi plane attacking one of his ships.  

That commendation -- and the 5 years at sea under shelling from Africa to Italy to the coast of Japan -- came with a price. Dad's best friend killed next to him at Anzio, and by the end of the war Dad suffered from what they then called Shell Shock, what we know as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

According to my uncle, the first year Dad was back from the war, the family was worried that they could still lose him.

Dad was hallucinating, drinking, fighting, totaled his car in an accident. His  brother was a volunteer rescue worker called to that accident, convinced for long minutes that Dad had been killed.

My grandfather started a small house building company to get my father back to work. Eventually, Dad married, built a house of his own, went to work as an engineer in rocket engine testing (my father was, literally, a rocket scientist!)

Dad continued to hunt and fish with his friends. I remember venison stew, and dressed deer hanging in the yards of some neighbors every fall (not ours, thank god.)

Then one day, my three-year-old sister and four-year old brother took Dad's Swiss Army knife out of the top drawer of his dresser (so far above their heads, that no one could figure out how they managed.)

They fought over the penknife and my sister's finger was nearly severed: I remember the trail of blood down the hallway as my father scooped her up and ran her to the local hospital, where they managed to save her finger.

The first thing back from the hospital, my father got rid of his hunting rifles, even though they'd been safely stored in the attic. Sold those guns, or gave them away to his friends.

This was nearly 60 years ago, long before childproofing a home was the norm.

My father had been a lifelong hunter, but he'd seen what guns could do. And more important, my father valued his children's safety over a hobby.

It's a national disgrace that we, as Americans, allow gun hobbyists to create a situation in which our children die for their hobby.

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