Thursday, December 01, 2005

Examining "Gun Nuts"

Hi all. I'm Mel. Josh is letting me use his blog for a little bit - kinda a probationary period, I guess.

First thing I wanted to do was comment on his Freaks and Geeks post. Since he's the one who taught me gun safety, how to shoot, and eventually helped me buy my own gun, I think it's fair that I should weigh in there. See, the first time we went to the range - this was after a couple of handling instruction sessions - I was terrified. I wasn't a shooter. I didn't grow up around guns. I learned everything I knew from TV, and all the things I "knew" turned out to be wrong.

We went with a bunch of his friends to a private range hes a member at. The first thing I noticed was the concussions from the shots around me. Even with the electric earmuffs I was wearing, they were loud. The second thing I noticed was the smell - the kinda sour, musty smell that was burnt gunpowder. The third thing I noticed was that everybody was really friendly and helpful. After Josh had told me what to do, I started shooting all over the place. My first target only had 5 holes in it from 10 shots.

We shot for about an hour, him demonstrating with his pistol, me with the .22 he lent me. At first, we just shot. Then other shooters started coming over and observing. Every now and then one would make an observation to one of us about holding the gun or the thing I was really bad about, flinching. Eventually, no one was shooting but me - so I could stop flinching finally since the .22 is really quiet - and I had about 10 teachers helping me out. They may have also been checking out my butt. I'm not so sure. (ed.: I was...heh, indeed.)

Those are the kind of people I needed to be around to learn what I did that day and every other time I've gone. When I bought my gun (ed.: a Walther P22) the people were very helpful and friendly.

When I told my boyfriend I bought a gun, he flipped out and started bitching about "gun nuts." WTF? I told him how Josh showed me everything and how there weren't any nazis or klan members or anything, but he wouldn't listen. When I tried to get him to come along the next time, he got upset and took off. Finally, I sat him down and talked to him about his perception of a "gun nut," and just how wrong he was.

First, he thought all gun owners wanted guns to kill other people. False, I said. It's about being responsible for your own well being, something I had just learned myself. Do you entrust someone else to make sure you don't gain weight? No, you take yourself to the gym and do it yourself. Same with protecting yourself.

Next he said that shooters were just too lazy to go into the military, and that no civilians should be trusted with guns since we murder each other. Patently false, I replied. Not only is it a guaranteed constitutional right - second only to freedom of speech and religion - but military service has nothing to do with owning a gun. Should every abused wife, hunter, sharpshooter and trap shooter serve in the military to persue a hobby? Do offshore fisherman have to serve in the Coast Guard? Give me a break.

Eventually (ed.:months later) he started to come around.

But it was the preconcieved notions he had that were most troubling. I went thru the same stuff with my mom and dad, my room mate - who I taught to shoot my gun, just in case - and my coworkers. My aunt was really hurtful about the whole thing and didn't even speak to me over Thanksgiving. I didn't understand. I was still the same person, I just owned a gun. Josh is a great guy and everyone I know confuses him for the hippies he hates unless he finally gets a haircut. (ed.: now I will, tomorrow in fact. bullshit...) He isn't a klansman or some shit - where do people get off?

So after dealing with these notions half a dozen people had, what can I conclude? One, people are stupid when it comes to guns and gun owners, and that just compounds the fear they have. I mean - I own something capable of killing another person. My car. Golf clubs. Bat. Frying pan, maybe. But everyone owns those things and sees them everyday. They aren't exposed to guns all the time, so they fear them, and because they fear, they hate.

I call myself a responsible gun owner. I don't own nearly as many or know as much about them as some people, but I'm interested in learning.

So I'm here to express my views on gun rights as a reformed thinker. A year ago I was royally pissed they didn't renew the Brady Ban. Today, I'm glad it died and I know more than I "knew" before. Hopefully I will have something else insightful to say soon. I don't want to have to go get my own blog and have no one read it. :)

Ed: Yes, she is a girl. Yes, she can shoot. Yes, she's smarter than me. And I don't look like a goddamn hippy! Thanks Melinda. Welcome aboard.