The Ohio University Second Amendment Club

November 06, 2015

Many months ago I had a chance to meet, photograph and interview members of the Ohio University Second Amendment Club, a student organization at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. The focus was to talk about each participant's personal association with firearms. In this gallery you can view, listen and read each individual's response to six central questions.

Wes Gilkey, President, Ohio University 2nd Amendment Club. Athens, Ohio. 

A full interview with Wes Gilkey can be read here.

 

Logan Shumaker, Vice President, Ohio University 2nd Amendment Club, Athens, Ohio. 

A full interview with Logan Shumaker can be read here

 

Val Espinoza, Secretary, Ohio University 2nd Amendment Club, Athens, Ohio.

A full interview with Val Espinoza can be read here.

 

Ben Taylor, Member, Ohio University 2nd Amendment Club. Athens, Ohio.

A full interview with Ben Taylor can be read here.

 

Thomas Stierhoff, Member, Ohio University 2nd Amendment Club. Athens, Ohio.

A full interview with Thomas Stierhoff can be read here.

 

Kaitlyn Cedoz, Member, Ohio University 2nd Amendment Club. Athens, Ohio.

A full interview with Kaitlyn Cedoz can be read here.

 

Corey Bland, Member, Ohio University 2nd Amendment Club. Athens, Ohio.

A full interview with Cory Bland can be read here.

 

Andrea Adams, Member, Ohio University 2nd Amendment Club. Athens, Ohio.

A full interview with Andrea Adams can be read here.


Interview with Wes Gilkey - Ohio University 2nd Amendment Club

November 06, 2015

Wes Gilkey – Interview Transcript – 3.12.13

(The following is a transcription of the interview in its entirety. The interview was organized, conducted and recorded by Zach Nelson while speaking to Wes Gilkey on 3.12.2013)

Bio:

Name: Wes Gilkey

Age: 18

Hometown: Athens, Ohio

Occupation: Farmhand and Veterinary assistant who studies Molecular and Cellular Biology at Ohio University

 

Question 1 – What is your personal connection with firearms?

 

Wes Gilkey: “I got involved through hunting when I was very young. My dad used to take me hunting with him, and I never actually used any firearms. I would go with him, and one of my earliest memories of me and Dad going out was when we were squirrel hunting. We would take the dogs out, and he would have the rifle and everything. I never actually used – I did some plinking and stuff some small rim fire rifles and stuff like that when I was real young. I’d say [the] only time I really got into it and started actually hunting on my own was probably when I was 13 years old. I would go out and [shoot] mostly groundhogs around the barn. I would take my shotgun out and go down there with Dad. I guess that’s what I really started to get into it.”

 

            Q - What age did you own your first firearm?

 

Wes Gilkey: “I was given my first firearm for my 16th birthday. I got a rimfire 22mm Long rifle, Winchester Wildcat Bolt-Action rifle. That was my first rifle that I had.  Technically my grandparents actually got us all shotguns when we were born, New England Firearms, little single shot, 20 gauges. Basically, we didn’t use those until we were a lot older obviously. Technically I became a firearms owner then.”

 

Question 2 – Why do you choose to have firearms?

 

Wes Gilkey: “The main reason that I choose to have firearms is for hunting. Hunting is my favorite thing to do. Out of all the activities I have always been involved in – ice hockey, 4H, all those – hunting has always been the thing that I have always wanted to do. So really what I try and do with firearms is hunt. I use them obviously for target shooting. I am with some clubs and stuff like that, and we do shooting. Really the main reason I really have them and enjoy [them] and try and work with them so much, and have my own little firearms I really can modify, and play with and things like that, is for hunting.”

 

            Q – Hunting is where you got your start.

 

Wes Gilkey: “Yeah, that was what I solely did. Since then I have gotten into firearms, like, I buy and sell to try and make a little extra income. I have a pistol, and we will go out to the range and we’ll shoot the rifles that I have. Some things I have, for instance I have a Mosin Nagant, in Ohio you can’t hunt with that legally. So the only thing I would use that for would be like varmints, like groundhogs and things; and I just use my 22mm for that. So I do have firearms I just use for shooting with friends. But really why I am into firearms and why I continue to [be] into firearms is because I like the sport of it. I like hunting and providing for my family by doing so.”

 

Question 3 - What makes you most proud as a firearms owner?

 

Wes Gilkey: “I do like the history of it. It’s funny how you use the word ‘pride,’ because that’s really how I would describe it. When you are all sitting around the table and whatever you have got on the table is … whatever is on the table I have gone out and harvested during the season, and here it is on the table and the family is enjoying it. I guess that’s when I sit back and I really feel proud about being a firearms owner. Having that opportunity and having the knowledge and skill and the talent to be able to go out [and] do that. It’s something I really enjoy, so I guess that’s what I have the most pride in.”

 

Question 4 – What is the hardest part about being a firearms owner for you personally? Are there any negative stigmas or connotations you wish were different?

 

Wes Gilkey: “I would say yes, that there are definitely negative stigmas out there. I am not going to sit here and lie to you and tell you that there aren’t bad people out there that can have firearms, that can acquire firearms. Because firearms are not inherently bad, just like anything else is not inherently bad. There are some people who are bad. That’s one of the things that do put a negative stigma. When accidents happen, that outs a negative stigma. When people are unethical in the way they harvest animals if they’re hunters, that puts on negative stigma. I guess me personally, the thing that I am most concerned about as a firearms owner, is portraying a positive image. The number one goal is always safety. My main goal is the safety and portraying a positive image for firearms and for other hunters and people who aren’t hunters but just firearms users. In many ways they are the same,  so I make it a personal priority to make sure that I’m always being safe, that I am always aware of my surroundings, whether I be hunting or target shooting that I know what’s beyond my target. There are always going to be evil people in this world, and there are always going to be evil people who are going to acquire firearms. It is also a priority of mine that the public know that there are people like me out here who are just average Joe’s, who use firearms for recreation, we use them for food, we use them with our friends and no one ever gets hurt. We are good people and we would never do anything that would be with evil intent. I guess that’s what makes it the hardest part of being a firearms owner is that there are always other people out there who don’t care. Who maybe don’t put as much thought [in], and don’t make it a priority to shine that positive image. I guess it’s like with anything else: you have the good and you have the bad. Something with firearms that can be dangerous, I guess, is that the bad just shines a little bit more. So I guess that would probably be the hardest part. The hardest part for me is the public image and just trying to make sure you’re being good and trying to make sure that when bad happens, people realize that it wasn’t the firearm that was bad it was the people who were bad. You have to realize that there are good people like me that are out there doing our best to make sure we are being safe and responsible.

 

Question 5 – What do you do as an individual to make sure you are being a responsible gun owner?

 

Wes Gilkey: “That’s a really important question and one I actually consider often. Because it is so important that I as a firearms owner provide that positive image for other firearms owners, because I also want them to have that enjoyment and that pride with firearms. Really, it comes down to behavior and common sense when you’re around firearms. You don’t have to be a super genius to be able to shine a positive image and behave with common sense to be able to properly own a firearm.  I would never go out and treat them like they are anything less then something that’s dangerous, because it is dangerous. Anyone who tells you that that they’re not dangerous is wrong, quite frankly. They are dangerous, the point is that you have to have the common sense and you have to have the knowledge and you have to be literate enough to make sure that you can keep that from being dangerous to someone.  Literally 100% of all firearms accidents could be solved if people were just more literate, if people watched their behavior, used their common sense. Firearm incidents, I would think, would be pretty low compared to other injuries from other sports. Me being a hunter, a lot of the times I also feel as though hunting plays a large role in that. I think bad hunting practices often play a part in the negative image of firearms. 

 

I guess it’s important also for people who use firearms to remember what they are using them for and how to properly use them for those tasks. Because when you are out at the range, there are safety guidelines that you follow; when you are hunting, there are safety guidelines that you follow, and they can be different depending on what situation you’re in. It’s important you don’t take a deer that’s bloody and put it on top of your car and go driving down the highway with it. It’s not ethical. You don’t take two or three shots to down a deer, you take one and you make sure that’s a good shot. You don’t take that shot unless you know that you can make it, unless you know that it’s a good shot, unless you know that you can be ethical. It’s those little things that you always have to have in the back of your mind: When I do this what are the consequences? Because when you own a firearm there is always that chance that you do something, that you don’t use that intelligence, that you don’t use your common sense with and it can have horrible consequences. You have to make it a personal vendetta that you are a person who is literate, who is knowledgeable, who has the common sense.

 

Question 6 - What do you wish was different about being a firearms owner? Looking towards the future what would you change?

 

Wes Gilkey: “ To tell you the truth I think the thing I would like to see change about firearms is that I would like to see more people involved with them. And I am not just saying that because I like guns. And I am not saying that because I like things that have to do with firearms, but to tell you the truth. You just mentioned a lot of things. You mentioned public perception, you mentioned the way that people treat firearms, things like that – you know I come from a culture where I use firearms, my dad used firearms, my grandpa used firearms, my great-great grandfather used firearms, all the way back. And someone in the city, their great grandfather might have used a firearm, their grandpa might have used a firearm, their dad might not have and they may have never even handled one or seen one in real life. [An] issue that affects me also affects them because they are American citizens. And laws that have to do with firearms affects them too, and affect the rights that they have. I think a lot of problems could be solved and people would become more knowledgeable and be able to make better decisions when it comes to firearms if everyone had that chance to be with them and understand them and realize what they are capable of and not capable of. And what people like me use them for. People say ‘Oh you don’t need those to have food on the table.’ But we do use them to have food on the table, and have the right to use them to put food on the table. But the problem is someone in the city cannot relate to that, or someone who has never had a firearm can’t relate to that. I’ve grown up with firearms all my life, it seems like a no-brainer. But to someone else coming from a different culture, it’s not. So I guess education and that ability to be around firearms is something that I would change.

 

I guess another thing I would like to change is the fact that there are bad people who get ahold of firearms. And as much as I would love to change that – I hate it when bad people get ahold of firearms, I hate it when people die because of firearms, – to tell you the truth, I don’t think that you’re ever going to be able to change that, because there are always going to be firearms here and there are always going to be people who have that ill intent. Really it comes back to I think everyone should be more educated. I think everyone should be more involved. I think everyone should have a greater understanding so that we are all on the same page when it comes to firearms. It’s kind of a unity thing I guess, among Americans, because in some areas like that we are just not as unified as I would like us to be.”

 

 


Interview with Logan Shumaker - Ohio University 2nd Amendment Club

November 06, 2015

Logan Shumaker – Interview Transcript – 3.12.13

(The following is a transcription of the interview in its entirety. The interview was organized, conducted and recorded by Zach Nelson while speaking to Logan Shumaker on 3.12.2013)

Bio:

Name: Logan Shumaker

Age: 19

Hometown: Sycamore, Ohio

Occupation: Pre-med Biological Sciences major at Ohio University.

 

Question 1 – What is your personal connection with firearms? How old were you when you first operated a firearm?

Logan Shumaker: “I’d have to say I was about 8, about 8 years old.”

 

            Q – Who introduced you?

Logan Shumaker: “My father. Started with target shooting, then moved to skeet, then hunting and all that stuff.”

 

Question 2 – Why do you choose to have firearms?

Logan Shumaker: “Well, it’s recreational; it’s definitely a fun sport. A lot of people don’t think of it as being a sport. And then self-protection: I am going to be a concealed carry instructor soon. So I am going to be teaching that, and I also have my [conceal and carry] certification. And also hunting, that’s a big aspect of owning a firearm.”

 

            Q – When did you start? When was your first hunt?

Logan Shumaker: “I was about 12 when I went out deer hunting for the first time. I went through the hunter safety course and got my hunting license. Went out in the woods that year with my dad for a youth hunt, and it all started from there.”

 

Question 3 - What makes you most proud as a firearms owner?

Logan Shumaker: “Just the aspect of being able to own a firearm and being able to go out and shoot and have fun.”

 

            Q – Now you have been doing it since you were 8, is there any part of that that contributes to what you are proud of?

Logan Shumaker: “Yeah, I guess from grandfather to father to son. Yeah, I’d say so. Learning your first safety from your dad, all your basic range rules: keep your gun down range, keep your finger off the trigger, safety always on, always treat a gun as it’s always loaded. That’s just basic stuff that you pass down from father to son. I guess you would take pride in teaching your kin that importance.”

 

Question 4 – What is the hardest part about being a firearms owner for you personally? Is there a stigma or negative connotations you wish you could change?

Logan Shumaker: “Yeah, I mean, it’s not the gun that can hurt people, it’s the person behind the gun. That point needs to get put out more to the public more. Because it seems that that is what everybody fears is the gun, when it should be the person behind the gun that can do harm. That’s a major thing that’s a bad mark on gun owners.”

 

            Q – What about for you personally in your dealings with people?

Logan Shumaker: “I have been fortunate and not had any run-ins with anybody. I haven’t had anybody come up and say, ‘Oh you’re a gun owner, you shouldn’t own a gun.’ I haven’t had that experience with anybody that way. Our county is pretty gun friendly, I mean, everybody hunts, everybody pretty much owns a gun. ”  

 

Question 5 – What do you do as an individual to make sure you are being a responsible gun owner?

Logan Shumaker: “You have to be smart about it. I guess just follow your basic safety rules like I said before: keep your gun down range, keep your finger off the trigger, safety always on, always treat a gun as it’s always loaded. Don’t be idiots. Don’t be an idiot about your gun. Don’t do stupid things. Be a responsible gun owner; [do] what you’re supposed to do, follow the rules.”

 

Question 6 - What do you wish was different about being a firearms owner?

Logan Shumaker: “Just the negative aspects, that everybody thinks stereotyping gun owners as a dangerous activity or sport when, if you’re safe and responsible, there shouldn’t be any black marks or bad vibes about gun owners. People should respect firearms and respect the owners, I mean it’s our right.”

 

            Q – What do you want to see change about Gun ownership in the future?

Logan Shumaker: “Well, I would like to see more respect shown to firearm owners, that we are actually responsible and safe firearms owners. I would like to see most of the laws stay the same, that way everybody does stay safe.”


Interview with Val Espinoza - Ohio University 2nd Amendment Club

November 06, 2015

Val Espinoza – Interview Transcript – 4.6.13

(The following is a transcription of the interview in its entirety. The interview was organized, conducted and recorded by Zach Nelson while speaking to Val Espinoza on 4.6.2013)

Bio:

Name: Val Espinoza

Hometown: Toledo, Ohio

Age: 19

Occupation: Biology Major at Ohio University

 

Question 1 – What is your personal connection with firearms?

Val Espinoza: “I was raised in a very pro-gun household and we have always been very strong supporters of the second amendment. And so when I came to college I met Wes, who is our president [of the Ohio University 2nd Amendment Club]in a Biology class, and he was talking about the 2nd Amendment Club and how great it is, so I came and I kept learning and falling in love with him.”

 

            Q – Back to the more personal stuff, you were raised with a family that owns firearms. What about that aspect of growing up with it, let’s look at that part.

Val Espinoza: “My mom and dad, my mom not so much, we’re all very pro-gun. My dad owns guns, but he does it more like for collecting a little bit. Actually my involvement in the 2nd Amendment Club has really reinvigorated them, like I am the only one out of us to have my conceal and carry [permit], so I’d say it’s really like me becoming involved in the 2nd Amendment Club has really reinvigorated my whole family to become involved in it. And we have always been really strong supporters of it, mainly for personal protection, you know, it’s our right, too, and I feel it’s the best way to protect yourself, especially being women.”

 

Question 2 – Why do you personally choose to have firearms?

Val Espinoza: “I choose to have firearms mostly for self protection. Being a woman, we’ve got a lot of disadvantages, [those] being, height, strength, you know, just even upper body strength specifically. There’s no way I can take on a guy who is 200 pounds. So my firearm is absolutely my weapon of choice because if I have a 45mm handgun, that guy is not gonna mess with me; and I absolutely feel confident in that.”

 

Question 3 - What makes you most proud as a firearms owner?

Val Espinoza: “I’m most proud (it’s probably the most simple), I’m most proud of it because it’s absolutely alright. I just feel like a fully liberated American, like, being able to own a gun and practice it, practice my firearms use. I just feel really privileged because, you know, America, we pride ourselves on being the most free and I feel that this is one way I can say, ‘I am fully using my liberties,’ you know? The ones that I was born with I guess.”

 

Question 4 – What is the hardest part about being a firearms owner for you personally?

Val Espinoza: “The hardest part would be age for me at least right now, ‘cause I am only 19 – There is a lot of stuff that I cannot do still. Even being an American, it’s a really hard position to be in where you’re fighting for all these rights and you’re really a supporter of concealed carry, concealed carry on campus, and I can’t at all. I have to wait two more years. So I would say the hardest part is actually just waiting around until I can actually do it while I am still fighting for it now.”

 

Question 5 – What do you do as an individual to make sure you are being a responsible gun owner?

Val Espinoza: “I always want to be conscious of other peoples’ opinions. Because I love that the 2nd Amendment guarantees your right, but it doesn’t mandate it. So I absolutely wanna own a gun, but if someone else comes up to me and says, ‘I don’t feel comfortable with it, I don’t want to use guns in any way,’ I love that we have the ability to choose whether we do or do not use it. Now, I love using my gun, but I love that no one has to – it’s not a mandate, you don’t have to.”

 

            Q- So responsibility to you is being able to advocate and understand other peoples’ opinions?

Val Espinoza: “I’d say my responsibility would just be: Be a responsible gun owner in the sense to not judge non-gun owners. I think that’s the biggest turn off for people who are anti-gun. They feel like all gun owners want everyone to have a gun, and I don’t want that. So I think keeping other peoples’ opinions in mind when talking to anti-gun people is probably my biggest responsibility, ‘cause I never want anyone to say, ‘well, this person was pro-gun, and they really turned me off.’ I never want someone to say that to me.”

 

Question 6 - What do you wish was different about being a firearms owner? Looking towards the future what would you change?

Val Espinoza: “I wish I could modify the stigma with it. A lot of people think that we are just a bunch of gun nuts and that we like to go out shooting things like water fruit and water bottles and bowling pins and stuff – which is always fun, but I wish people didn’t think we were so crazy about it. We don’t go out to hurt humans; we do it really to preserve life. We’re all about protecting our lives and each other’s lives. Like, if one of my friends was not carrying and I was, I would absolutely protect them, even a stranger on the street. I always want guns to be seen as a form of protection, not aggression.”

 

 

 


Interview with Ben Taylor - Ohio University 2nd Amendment Club

November 06, 2015

 

Ben Taylor – Interview Transcript – 3.22.13

(The following is a transcription of the interview in its entirety. The interview was organized, conducted and recorded by Zach Nelson while speaking to Ben Taylor on 3.22.2013)

Bio:

Name: Ben Taylor

Age: 21

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio.

Occupation: Athens County Sheriffs Deputy.

 

Question 1 – What is your personal connection with firearms?

Ben Taylor: “I first got involved with firearms when I was about 12 years old. I went hunting with my father and I have just been addicted to shooting ever since.”

 

Question 2 – Why do you choose to have Firearms?

Ben Taylor: “My personal attraction to firearms kind of stems from not only the ability to own them but the sense of security they provide. I obviously carry one every day for my job as well as off duty. It’s nice have the security there that if somebody tries to take my life I can at least try and defend it in some way. I really enjoy owning firearms as it’s a pride to me, its kind of like something my family has done as long as I can remember. We go out and shoot together and its always a great thing to do is get together and throw out some clay pigeons, pull out the shotguns and just have fun as a family.”

 

Question 3 - What makes you most proud as a firearms owner?

Ben Taylor: “I take pride as a firearms owner in the sense that I can use my rights as I please, that have been granted to me, and protect these rights the ways that I see fit. And not only protect myself but others from harm way. Obviously part of the job is making sure that everybody stays safe and that everybody’s well being is secured, and one way we are able to do that is through firearms.  I take great pride I having that responsibility and that trust bestowed in me to keep the county of Athens as safe as possible.”

 

Question 4 – What is the hardest part about being a firearms owner for you personally?

Ben Taylor: “One thing that I wish could be different about firearms or the firearms community in general is the general stigma that comes with it: That people who own firearms are irresponsible or are not necessarily handling firearms in the right way. I believe that it’s almost like a one-percenter type deal where nighty-nine percent are handling them effectively and safely and then you have one percent who is abusing that responsibility and ownership and that kind of just give’s everyone else who is obviously maintaining their use of firearms properly and keeping everything safe and responsible a bad name and gives them a bad rap. That’s the one thing I would like to see change with firearms, is people be more aware that like anything else you’re going to have one person that makes everybody else doing the exact same thing responsibly look bad.”

 

Question 5 – What do you do as an individual to make sure you are being a responsible gun owner?

Ben Taylor: “I believe that if more people had a professional attitude with firearms that it would lead to an overall more safe and conducive group responsibility which would lead to a more viewed safety by the public and more viewed safety by groups who are trying to target firearms owners right now.  I believe we have a big responsibility on our shoulders and its something we need to address and make people see that not all firearm owners are bad. That doing it as a group we can do it safely.”

 

Question 6 - What do you wish was different about being a firearms owner? Looking towards the future what would you change?

Ben Taylor: One change I would like to see as a firearms owner is everyone who applies for a firearm has to do some kind of firearms safety course.  I believe that although being 18 your are seen as being responsible, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you know how handle a firearm properly. You are not given a drivers license when you are 16, you have to go through a test and required classes, etcetera.  I believe the same thing should be done with firearms that way there are a lot less incidences with them and a lot less accidents associated with firearms 

 
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