Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Gun is a State of Mind

I read an interesting quote today in the local newspaper: "A gun is not a gun, it is a mental state." This is the most succinct description of the act of carrying a loaded handgun in public that I can remember seeing. All these he-men whining about not being able to carry their Desert Eagle to the corner store for a loaf of bread, or feeling helpless walking Fluffy in the park early in the evening, or even rolling down your window on the jerk who cut you off in heavy traffic. It is the idea of packing a gun that excites most of these True Believers. It is pretty much accepted that the people with the most guns have the least training -- particularly handgun training and especially "concealable handgun" training. The time it takes to recognize a serious threat, decide to unlimber your weapon, grab it and manage to free it from wherever you've concealed it, prepare it for firing (push off safety, rack slide, cock hammer, whatever must be overcome that provides a safe carrying situation, point it and make a conscious decision to put a slug into the threat's boiler room -- much time has passed. The concluding "Bang" is surprisingly loud without ear protection. If you've missed -- and at any range over 20-30 feet, chances are you will miss with a 2" - 4" long concealable barrel, while you try to see around the blue spot where the muzzle flash once was to reacquire your threat target, the threat now has the psychological edge. Remember, the threat had already decided to do harm to you before the encounter began. Only in the movies has the victim read the script and is mentally prepared. Fear leaves you one option. You keep squeezing the trigger, shooting and shooting and shooting in the general direction of the threat until the gun clicks empty.

You may have stopped the threat, or at least chased the threat away. Now, where did all those bullets go? Where's the kid who was riding his bike a block away? Did the mother three blocks away get home okay with her arms full of groceries?

You just have to remember, everything in front of your muzzle is your responsibility.

Concealed Carry is virtually an oxymoron. I lived and worked in Arizona for a few years, a state that has very liberal carry laws. I carried a .38 Special Smith & Wesson Chiefs Airweight revolver with a 2 1/2 inch barrel. I also carried a badge. Every opportunity I had, I trooped out into the desert with fellow officers and we ran boxes of bullets through our guns. Even with cranking away on a regular basis, I was very happy that I never had to make a life or death decision. I also never met anyone who regularly conceal-carried a handgun, who didn't want other people to know about it. Carrying a gun is a state of mind, a state that embraces everyone in front of your muzzle when you squeeze the trigger.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Bunker Summer Ahead?

Teaching civilians the skill of marksmanship as a sport will encourage them to train in the safe use of firearms from the perspective of a praiseworthy result. Spectator-friendly marksmanship competition should be restored to the public sector to encourage familiarity with this traditional pastime to the level of golf, tennis, or any other solo skill endeavor. Until people lose their fear of firearms through familiarity, fear will always be attached to guns and can be used as a tool by the extremists on both sides of the issue.

What with the NRA and Gun Control Ideologues at each other seeing who can deliver the most improbable scenarios for an apocalyptic collision of good and evil -- and a do-nothing Congress mired in self-serving political back-biting, that old 1950s idea of a back yard bunker takes on new appeal.

Instead of fearing a nuclear blast, the average tax-paying working stiff looking for his or her share of the American Dream can fort up in some modest concrete construction like an old missile silo and peer out at the rest of this self-destructive world through a periscope, and Comcast cable. If you can develop a taste for indestructible garbanzo beans and a 55 gallon drum of Tobasco Sauce, you can watch the world beat on itself with a computer tablet and keep up with Game of Thrones on HBO for an eternity.

Or you can sit in your office, pick a particularly grating issue and Blog. You can buy a battery-powered megaphone and stand on a street corner, hopping from one foot to the other excoriating, bloviating and expostulating the diminishing respect for a sport that was once an American tradition. You can watch the NRA further destroy its credibility by drumming up greater levels of  "Stand Up and Fight" violent over-reaction by members and supporters who have no regard for anything but their personal agendas of power, greed and a messianic spread of fear and distrust.

The extreme gun control advocates are no less culpable in their brilliantly blazing ignorance advanced as though it was holy writ. They peer at fleas with magnifying glasses and then recoil in fear at the monsters they discover.

It's like neither of these sides of the issue of firearms ownership actually hear themselves, nor do they have any respect for the intelligence of the American people to sort out the exaggerations and support the simple realities.

Marksmanship is a sport that requires practice, skill and a certain dedication to maintain a competitive --- or at least a self-satisfactory result. From entertainment, the media and the military, today's public makes little distinction between the sport of marksmanship and killing our fellow man. Far too much emphasis has been placed on the firearm as strictly a weapon. Since a weapon conveys to its owner a sense of power, that domination becomes an addiction. Sport shooting is a discipline, wielding a weapon in an execution is subject to the emotion of the moment and results often in random bloodshed. Weapons are for the police and military who understand the expectations and are trained to use their weapons in defense of their objectives.

I'm not ready to pour concrete yet, but my respect for my fellow man is teetering as long as we let issues such as gun control be dictated by deep pockets, big mouths and small brains.