As a liberal, I’ve never understood the Democratic terror of guns. Sure, I get the whole “people shouldn’t have fully-automatic weapons” bit, in the same sense that I’d prefer my neighbors not have access to tanks or bazookas. But I’ve known a goodly number of friends who quailed in terror from a handgun, or the idea of anyone owning a handgun. They’d feel a lot safer if all guns were outlawed.
I guess I’m a crazy middle-man, because I think people should have access to handguns. As Michael Moore (who is otherwise mostly sloshing with lies) says, other nations have almost as many guns and none of our gun deaths. I’m not entirely sure what it is in our culture, but holy fuck we like to shoot each other. The problem is not in the gun, but something in the way we treat guns and/or violence that spurs us to kill regularly.
Plus, guns aren’t that great a deterrent. My Dad used to be a big gun nut (he started after I was twenty, so I didn’t grow up around guns, in case you’re curious) because he liked the safety. He got to be quite a shot. But then he started taking courses on realistic gun shooting – not “Let’s stand twenty feet from the target in perfect position, feet shoulder-width apart,” but rather “The gun’s at your hip, you have to fire now as the mugger’s jumping you.” And he found that even with all of his training, his accuracy went to hell. In a real combat situation, his chances of hitting the mugger (and not hitting an innocent bystander) bottomed out, so much so that he came to the conclusion that guns really weren’t that much of an advantage.
But the gun itself? I’d like to have more restrictions on who buys them and when – from my admittedly non-gunnish perspective, it seems like it’s a lot more trouble to get a car than it is to get a pistol, and that’s a shame. I’d like some testing to ensure kooks and criminals don’t get the high-powered weapons, and yes, no laws will stop all criminals from getting guns but if you’re going to take that attitude then let’s legalize all drugs and prostitution and gambling and gay sex first, since those are less harmful than guns. (Yes, go, libertarians.)
I would love to own a gun. Can’t. The fact that I’m suicidally depressive at least five weeks out of the year makes owning a gun a Very Bad Thing. And I tend to treat guns like they were toys, as in “Hey, look at all the crazy fun this is, whee!” which probably contraindicates having one in the house.
All of this is a very strange way of saying, “I enjoy guns, but haven’t done much with them.” But when my daughter Erin admitted she’d never shot a gun, nor had Gini, I said, “Well, why don’t we go down to the range and take a course?”
Erin clapped with glee.
It felt very fatherly. My Dad had taken me down to the gun range for my twenty-fifth birthday so that I could know what it felt like to shoot, so escorting my daughter to the gun range felt like a rite of passage. And we took a half an hour’s safety course, which wasn’t nearly as intensive as Connecticut’s, but the guy at the shop explained the ins and outs of the .22 pistol we had, how to place it on the table to indicate it was safe, how to handle it without putting anyone else in the line of fire, how to hold it to shoot without injuring yourself. We practiced in the room for a while, dry-firing and setting it up…
…then it was out to the range.
Erin was very nervous and excited, so we let her go first – and the kid’s a natural. She put all five of her first shots into the red zone, no questions asked. (It was pretty close, but hey – she did a lot better than I did.) And, as it turns out, she likes shooting guns. There is something intensely satisfying about pulling the trigger and hearing that flat explosion going off in your hand, feeling the shock of recoil, the brass flying out of the chamber.
I myself was the worst in the family. As it turns out, I can’t close my left eye, so I have to shoot using my right – which screws the alignment up. And I can’t really close my left eye all the way without causing my right eye to water for a bit, so though my grouping was okay, I didn’t have nearly the accuracy of Gini or Erin. But man, when you’re holding a gun in your hands, you’re shocked at how much your hands waver. It seems still until you’re trying to get a bead on things, and then suddenly you feel like a palsy victim.
We burned through a hundred bullets, irritated by every misfire, and of course our family competitiveness got the best of us and we started crowing about who was the best shot. Erin won, but they graciously gave me the title of “Most Improved,” which I’ll take.
We’re planning on going back next week. Erin needs to know what a .38 and a .45 feel like in her hands. And having stronger arms than she does, I might have a better shot this time…
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.