Michael Tenner is a 21-year-old who lives in Harrison with his parents and younger brother and sister. He works as a gas station manager during the day and enjoys hunting and going to the shooting range on the weekends. In the past month, he started a Facebook page named “Westchester county gun owners,” which now has 95 followers. “I wanted gun owners from Westchester to get together, share their thoughts on the new laws that are coming out, and just be informed of what’s happening to our Second Amendment,” he explains.
So what do you think is happening to our Second Amendment? [The legislators] are totally destroying it, and it’s a shame, because our forefathers put it there so we could protect ourselves from crime or from our government if they ever tried to do anything to the American people.
Did you grow up with guns? How did you become interested in them? I was at my friend’s house one day and it was right around my eighteenth birthday, and he’s like, ‘On your birthday, do you want to go to the shooting range?’ And I said, ‘Why not?’ So he took me to the range, and that day I went and bought a shotgun, and I did skeet shooting with that. Then I got into hunting and got a rifle. It’s something I enjoy, you know? I’m not out there doing anything bad. I’m not doing drugs.
Do you understand why other people find guns scary or don’t want them around? Someone who’s never been around weapons, they don’t know that the gun can’t shoot itself; it takes a person to pull a trigger. Even when I was younger, my parents weren’t really into guns and they always taught me that guns are bad. When my friend took me to the range, I was nervous about it.
What do your parents think of you owning guns now? In November, I went to a gun show, and I actually bought a [new rifle], and the first weekend I went shooting with it, my mom said, ‘Do you think you could take me?’ She had a blast; she loved it! She wants one now, but since this new law [went into effect], she can’t get one.
And what about your friends? Do they own guns? Almost every one of my friends owns a gun. We all go to the range together. Every one of my friends is responsible, and I’m really not scared about any of my friends having a gun.
Do you believe in laws that prevent guns from going into the hands of people less responsible than your friends? Yes. I’m actually really in favor of the background checks and closing those loopholes. I think over in Pennsylvania I can buy a gun with my license without a background check, which I think is wrong. They’ve also got to add more time to an offense, make the offenses worse if you do something bad with a gun. Put a law there that says if you buy a gun and give it to somebody who isn’t supposed to have it, you get the offense. You get the same offense that guy got because it was your fault.
It sounds like you have very clear views on guns. What can you do to help people better understand them? Before people go and say guns are bad, they should do some research and maybe hang out around a range one day and see how responsible gun owners use a gun.