Monday, January 17, 2005

On Being a Gun Nut (Part V)

Having to Support Your Sport

When I was growing up, gun ownership was about as notable as owning a car. Just like with a new car, you might comment on the features of a new gun as you showed it to your neighbor, but your neighbor did not get an attack of the vapors and call down the wrath of Sarah Brady. Maybe that is because I grew up in the 1960s in the great American West. Maybe my family did not have a gun fearing wussy (hat tip to Kim du Toit) living next door. Nope, it's not either one, it is because in today's world too many people have been brainwashed into becoming anti-gun.

I live in New Hampshire now and I would not think of showing a new gun to a neighbor. When I lived in Massachusetts the neighbor would probably have called the police when he or she found out I owned guns. Even when I lived in Texas there was still some anti-gun silliness around.

This is not right. A gun is a tool. Nothing more nothing less. I long for a time when deciding to own a gun is no different than deciding to own a chain saw. If you have a legal use for either tool, no one should throw roadblocks in your way. Likewise, no one should be forced into buying a gun or chain saw if they don't want or need one. Bill and I live in an apartment right now and we have no use for a chain saw--no brush to clear, no trees to fall, no logs to cut.

Unlike chain saws, we have uses for guns. We shoot at paper targets, clay birds, deer, pheasant, and certain other tasty critters. We collect guns for their mechanical and historical interest. We should never have to defend that choice. And yet, both of us have had to do just that.

The first time I remember defending my choice to own a gun was ironically in Texas. I worked with a person who felt that guns were bad. Just that, no argument just an emotional "guns are bad." Guns were not for her, but she accepted that I owned guns.

That is the way it should be. She made a decision not to own a gun. It would have been just as rude of me to try to convince her she needed a firearm for self-defense or recreation as if she tried to convince me to sell my guns.

I moved to Massachusetts for my work and things got interesting. I had to get three letters of reference for my gun license application (click here if you want to read that story). When I asked my supervisor for one of the letters, I learned she was very anti-gun. She told me about the dangers of having a gun in the house, including some debunked statistics and an anecdote from her childhood. She accepted that I owned guns though, recognized I am a responsible person, and wrote a good letter for me.

Again, this is how it should be, more or less. I had to listen to a lecture, but she listened to me too and in the end we agreed to disagree.

Once I got my license, I did not hide the fact I owned firearms--I came out of the closet. A co-worker turned out to be one of the most gun fearing wussies imaginable. He actively tried to convince me to get rid of my guns preferably by melting them in the nearest blast furnace.

We argued back and forth at first good naturedly, but then more seriously when he could not convince me. I became his project. Every day he would present me with a new article, legal case, or fact to challenge my gun ownership. I would argue right back and did a great deal of research to refute his arguments.

Sometimes our discussions would become personal and sometimes silly. He admired Ghandhi and I found the quote,
"Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest."
At first he thought I made it up. Then he thought the gun website made it up, then he found it in his copy of Ghandi's autobiography. Oh.

When asked, he said he had no reason to hate gun ownership, but that guns caused more problems in society that they were worth.

I had never run into anyone who so single-mindedly hated the concept of gun ownership. I finally asked the right question and learned he hated guns because, "guns are made to kill." That was it. No fact, no legal case, no book would ever convince him that my gun ownership was not a prelude to a shooting spree. He even said he was afraid the evil inherent in guns could rub off on me. There is no logic that will defeat this emotional hatred. Unfortunately, he is politically active and votes.

Almost everyone else where I work is anti-gun and I became the office's pet gun nut and people made jokes about a woman owning guns or mentioned episodes of gun violence. Very rarely, they would ask if something they read about guns were true. I made offers to take anyone to a range at no cost to them. No one took me up on it. They, in their usual Yankee fashion, knew they were right, I was wrong, and guns are bad. Instead, I was told that they would do everything they can to end gun ownership, as we know it in America.

Most of the people in my office, including the Ghandhi-hugger, are good liberals. Back when I was a liberal I thought liberalism meant to let people make up their own minds. Like the old rock song says, "He can't even run his own life/I'll be damned if he'll run mine."

That is what I thought liberalism was all about, but it has changed. Today, it is about statist control of your life. It is about communitarianism. One person told me I should give up my guns for the good of the community even though she believed I would never hurt a fly. These people's agenda must be defeated. I don't want to live in a statist hellhole.

One thing my experience showed me is that we gunowners must become educated on gun issues. We can't take our rights for granted. In order to counter my co-workers' arguments, I had to become an expert on gun rights. I now own 47 gun books, 15 of them are about political issues four of those are anti-gun, the rest are on shooting or collection interests. I have read all of these and other books, legal cases, Internet articles, and many other sources. My knowledge does not defeat the anti-gunnies' emotional arguments, but they have had to reassess some of the facts they use to back up the emotions.

Bill being the true "Yosemite Sam" he is takes another tact. He knows the facts about gun ownership, but he no longer argues about gun rights, he just says, "Come and take 'em, bullets first." I am getting that way too.

While it is good to learn and knowledge can help us defeat the bastards, I wish I had never needed to read as much or the writers needed to spill so much ink. I wish the decision to own firearms was no different than it was when I was growing up.

We don't always get our wishes and in the final analysis it comes down to choice. It is my choice to own a gun. The liberals trust me to make a choice about an abortion* when a potential human life is at stake. They can damned well trust me to own a gun.
*I will not get into an abortion argument one way or the other except to say I've never had one, don't like them, but I am leery of laws too.

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