Tuesday, October 20, 2009

America's Got Guns

The second amendment has never been of interest to me. Maybe because I've spent my time and money on different things, but throughout the west, from Montesano down to El Paso, people are talking guns. Conversations are typically one-sided, with me doing the listening, mainly because I'm not the most educated person when it comes down to the details of firearm classifications, permit regulations, inter-state laws, and even the nuts, bolts, and bullets of it all. At best, I recall shooting a couple dozen rounds with my cousin's 45 long ago, but that's about it.

Some people obviously have a major stake in this "debate", I seem to recall a talk with a specialty gun and ammo shop owner while in Delta, Utah. A mild-mannered, but slightly perturbed fellow that grew up in New York state for most of his life, but became disgruntled with the exceedingly restrictive gun laws that had been passed and therefore, relocated to Utah. In his words, "You can't even own a pellet gun in NY. I had to leave and find a free'er state. It's more free out here than back east." At his store, he carries a variety of firearms, including AK-47s, M-16s, and other serious weapons whose names and numbers I don't remember. Besides the small amount he earns mining for gold and silver along the Nevada border, his store is the primary source of income, so I can see how this man was emotionally moved about the issue. When asked why he just didn't sell regular guns, he said that "there's a market out there for his prodect and he's always been interested in 'specialty' firearms."

Of slightly different opinion was a historian I met in Salt Lake. He said that if you look back to the early documents, congressional letters, and notes during the time of the constitution's writing, the authors had intended for each community to have its firearms centrally stockpiled in one or several different places around the municipality with trusted keepers that were always ready to open and distribute in the event of an invasion. I didn't press the question of whether or not this included all guns, but thought about this setup similarity to the Pearl Harbor arrangement mistakes. Clearly some drawbacks with this strategy it seemed.

After all the talk and considerations, it seems a basic shared fact that no one, no matter what type of gun, wants them in the hands of people that shouldn't have them. How this is determined (beyond criminal record checks, handling and safety classes, etc) is of course an issue itself. But it seems logical that an individual must prove him or herself responsible - just like driving an automobile (which is something else that we kill each other with far too frequently). Simply being born in America is, in itself, an insufficient qualification. Just as there are people on the road that shouldn't be driving, there are people that have guns that shouldn't (although some firearm related crime statistics show improvement with respect to this). As always, it's impossible to overstate the role and influence of responsible parents in the home - where it all starts.

Because I want to avoid a long rambling gun manifesto, I'll finish this post with a list of half-random, but still relative opinions or points I have formed of guns over the journey, but will first say that I believe if you prove yourself responsible, then you can rightfully own a gun - hunting rifles seem to make the most sense....the type of gun.....so many 'ifs' with this topic...
  • Automatic weapons are designed for killing humans, not food. I see no point in my fellow neighbor owning one (or several) of these. Although, if Al Queda, local crazies, or someone else invades my neighborhood, then my neighbor is probably more equipped to fight back. If Al Queda has penetrated my neighborhood, then I would assume this country is in far deeper trouble, but the fact still holds that your neighbor can fire more bullets faster. The military seems the best option for people with these desires.
  • Hand guns are somewhat ambiguous, though concealed handguns, or any concealed firearm sketches me out because you don't know who's packing. And because you don't know, you are not able to decide for yourself the safety of a situation. I've got buddies that I trust to shoot an apple off my shoulder, but would pass on going to parties or other gatherings where people are packing pistols. Again, this goes back to the fact that some people simply should not have a gun - especially in a crowd or around other humans. Ask any police officer how intensive, repetitious, and meticulous their training is for the proper handling of situations requiring the use of firearms in a crowd.
  • People with guns are better prepared if the economy tanks, the world turns upside down, chaos reigns, or catastrophic disease, plague, and famine wipes away half of us and our cows. Protection and protein.
  • Marksmanship is an admirable skill. Some styles of hunting a respectable sport - archery topping that list with little contention.
  • Profit margins increase for gun and ammo manufacturers during panic purchasing sprees. It's difficult to discern the degree to which they actively encourage such consumer irrationality.
  • "Obama's gonna take your guns away." Children watch better cartoons.
  • The time I spent the night in a small church in rural Oregon, the town mayor was teaching a youth group (children between nine and twelve years old) gun safety, laws of firearms, basic outdoor survival, what to do in an emergency, etc. With real guns and ammo on the table, the kids (and I) listened and learned. No fluff - all real and seriously respected, the way it supposed to be.
  • My last night in Utah, I caught the local news, and the sad story of a mother in a nearby town that had accidentally dropped her hand gun, it fired, and killed her.
  • I need to learn to hunt.

Baker City Boys Got You Spotted

In my approach to the city of El Paso, not one positive word was spoken to me about the place as it was likened to a "dirty snake pit" and "roaches crawling over each other". People thinking I was crazy for not having a gun. Once I get to El Paso, I actually discover a clean downtown with friendly people and a statement from the FBI about how El Paso is the third safest city in the US. Too bad this town has a bad rap.

As for La Cuidad de Juarez on the other side, that's a different story, but I haven't been there to attest.....which is not to say you have to go to speak on it, but I'll reserve any bold opinions knowing what little I do.

I do know that it feels good to be in Texas.


  1. I have several guns just in case the government tries to take whats mine! Rachel even has a pump action, pistol grip 12 gage with an 18 inch barrel.

  2. I know of great places back home way out in the sticks to get some target practice in; Christmas is as good a time as any!