Attention hunters, target shooters or firearms collectors – this is getting serious. We are suddenly faced by the biggest challenge for private gun ownership in American history.

During the recent past anti-hunting or anti-gun groups protested and wrote editorials about taking away our guns. We didn’t feel threatened, just annoyed. The NRA and other political specialists blocked bills to eliminate private firearm ownership and we just thought our so-called detractors were noise-making nuts.

That has changed.

Today students, teachers, mothers and other respected citizens are marching and protesting firearms. This is all playing out across America in front of our eyes. Even if guns are not eliminated now, they may be when these students are of voting age.

This may be the biggest threat to private gun ownership in American history.

I am horrified to hear of these shootings that have brought on mass protests. Schools, concerts and other venues have become targets for madmen that apparently want attention and kill to get it. There is even an armed guard at my church on Sunday morning and other churches across the region. I am glad they are watching over us while we practice freedom of religion. There absolutely are mentally disturbed people that find access to guns, a sad truth.

I will publicly state as I have many times before that criminals or mentally challenged individuals should never own guns. Eliminate honest Americans owning guns, then criminals and mentally challenged will still get guns and the honest citizens will be unprotected. I recently saw a protest sign in Kansas City that stated “all gun owners are criminals.”

My family and friends were raised shooting guns. We were educated from day one on proper handling of a firearm. There were no accidental shootings or even close calls. We learned respect for the power of a gun and handle ours on hunting trips or in the home in the safest ways possible. We do not leave guns laying around the house for a young child to find. They are stored with trigger locks intact.

Not one of us has ever committed or broken any kind of law with a firearm. There are 6 million legal gun owners in this country just like us. We use guns for the intended purpose, hunting, target practicing and home protection.

Yes, home protection is important to me and so are our police. I thank God for our policemen that make it possible for my family to leave the house safety and come home every night. Sadly, a policeman can’t be present every time a crime is committed. That is another reason why we have guns in our home – for personal protection until the police can arrive.

People reading this column may have used their guns to protect family on a dark night when a criminal decided to break in. Anyone crazy enough to commit such a crime will be armed. An unarmed homeowner would be at this crazy person’s mercy. That is a fate I hope my family or yours never endures.

When laws are passed, honest people comply, criminals don’t. I help guide duck hunting trips with men from Brazil annually. They are hunting here because someone in their country made hunting illegal – overnight. Honest sportsmen woke up to discover they could not legally hunt – just that simple. Only poachers shoot game there now.

So, what should honest firearms owners do now? Pay close attention to laws being passed and vote while encouraging others to vote and don’t be shy to contact your politicians to discuss bills against guns. Try and educate our younger generation to the positive aspects of firearms and their importance in our society. They certainly are being shown the bad side of guns these days.

– Kenneth Kieser, a veteran outdoors writer and member of the Waterfowlers Hall of Fame and National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, writes a weekly outdoors column for The Examiner. Reach him at kieserkenneth@gmail.com.