The past days have given me an embarrassment of time to think. How did I get where I am? What led me to this point? Why am I one of those who is willing to ferociously defend as sacred the text “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”.
I was in the military, but as a physician, you are not expected (nor allowed under most circumstances) to be one of those who actively participates in using guns of any sort. However, during the summer after my first year of medical school, the required 6 weeks of active duty time was spent with the military trying to show all of us just how much fun being a GMO (general medical officer) could be. We got wilderness survival training, aircraft safety training, and a training flight in a T-37. And we were taken to the range one time to fire M-9s. It was the first time most of us had ever even held a gun, much less fired one.
I found I was good at it. Really good. And I enjoyed it.
It was probably another 7 or 8 years before I fired a gun again. I was back on active duty and managed to talk my way into a range qualification day despite being a physician and theoretically not needing it. I enjoyed it just as much as I had the first time. And I was still good at it.
Then I found some friends who enjoyed shooting for fun. They owned guns, though none of them carried. They went to the range on a regular basis, and guns were not scary or frightening to them. They lived out of state, but we’d go shooting every time I visited, and they helped me to purchase my first gun, an H&K .40. That was about 13 years ago. I still have that gun, and I’m still far more accurate with that than I am with any other.
That was it for quite a few years. I had a gun. It came with 2 magazines. It had a box to keep it in. I knew how to clean it. Once in a while, I would go to the range and shoot. I didn’t know what to do other than just shoot at targets, so that’s what I did. I’d get one box of ammunition, maybe two, from the range when I got there, and I’d shoot it all. I didn’t keep any in the house other than the self-defense rounds that were kept loaded between range trips.
I didn’t know there was so much more out there.
After I moved into this house, I found a little neighborhood range up the street. I started shooting much more regularly, and I started looking at the guns that they had in their glass cases. I wasn’t planning on buying anything; after all, what would I do with TWO guns?
Then one day, they had a S&W 952. I’d been vaguely playing with the idea of “what if” and possibly getting into some sort of competitive shooting. I had no idea what was involved, but after looking into what the 952 was, it was definitely a gun that could get me started. So then I had two guns.
But surely, two was enough…right?
Well, no. Because the 952 showed me that there were more calibers out there than just .40. After all, it’s a 9mm. I also realized that there were more manufacturers out there than just the one or two that I had seen. Then I found 2 M&Ps, one in 9mm and one in .40. And a Beretta and a Sig, both in 9mm.
I started trying to figure out why I liked shooting some of my acquisitions better than others. The 952 was easily my favorite, for a lot of reasons. As I shot more, sometimes with range guns, sometimes with guns that were loaned to me by others who were shooting on any given day, I came to realize that it was the 1911 platform that was my favorite. Of course, that meant moving up to .45s. I did a lot of research before I bought my first, but my second was a gun show find, one that literally caught my eye from several aisles away.
Somewhere in there, I also realized how absolutely FUN .22s are to shoot. Fun, and cheap! Once I picked up one, it was almost like potato chips…I couldn’t get just one. Of course, I tried to “justify” two of them by telling myself that they are .22 trainers for full-size handguns that I already had. (But they’re just plain FUN.)
But still, in 20+ years of shooting, I’d only ever fired handguns. No revolvers, even.
Then this spring, I met THOT. He taught me how to shoot a rifle, first with his 10/22 and then with his .308 Enfield. He also likes revolvers, so I’ve now shot a few of those (not just his, but he’s also introduced me to so many other gunnies…and gunnies SHARE). I’ve even shot the shotgun that my dad used to hunt with as a kid.
I’ve discovered that I like shooting rifles at least as much as I do handguns. And if I like shooting something, it’s not fair if I have to keep borrowing that something to shoot it, so I had to get one of my own. I started with an M&P 15-22 (yes, the first rifle I bought -was- an Evil Black Rifle of sorts). My first centerfire rifle was a left-handed bolt-action Savage in .308. I picked up my first AR last month (a -real- Evil Black Rifle). I even have an antique Lebel that fits the bayonet passed down from my dad.
So I’ve come to this slowly and mostly along a solo path, but now I’ve found friends who share similar interests. I’ve spent time talking with them and listening to them. We don’t always agree about everything, but at the core, we do hold some things sacred.
I know that guns can kill; given my background and the work I do, there is no way I could avoid knowing that.
I also know that guns can protect and save. I’m not small, and I’ve had some training in martial arts, but if someone wants to rape me or kill me, my ability to carry and use a gun may be all that stands between me and him. Or them. I’m also not as young as I used to be; I can’t run as fast or hit as hard, and I have one bad knee. Plus right now, I’ve got one shoulder that is just a couple of weeks post-repair. If I am not allowed the ability to defend myself with a gun, I’m incredibly vulnerable should someone desire to take what is mine. Or to take me.
Why should someone have the right to take what is mine or to hurt me because he is bigger than I am, younger than I am, or faster than I am? If guns are made illegal, then only criminals will have guns. Will that make it any more right for him to take what is mine because he then has a gun and I no longer do?
My parents are also getting older. Why should they not have the choice to defend themselves should someone look at them as easy prey? Why should I not have the right and ability to defend them as I would myself?
While I might carry a handgun when outside the house, I am at least as accurate with a rifle as I am with a handgun. Many people like a shotgun for home defense; I think a rifle can serve that purpose very well. If what mine looks like adds to the scare factor, so much the better, but honestly, if I have it out and pointed at someone, it’s not going to be for the scare factor. My home is my castle; I have worked long and hard to get to the point where I could build exactly what I wanted, where I wanted, when I wanted to. I will not give it up to any person who tries to take it from me. I am willing to defend my position in it as I am my life, because to me, that which I have earned is part and parcel of me.
I believe in the ideals this country was founded on. And that includes the Second Amendment.