Friday, March 13, 2009

In Search of the EBR Part I

I have always loved firearms. One of my first memories is beating a bush in the front yard with a toy gun (actually, I have no idea if it was a toy gun or a stick, but I thought it was a gun). My parents let us have cap guns when we were kids and we loved them. But my brothers and I could turn anything into a gun. A stick became a rifle (or sword - depending on if we were being knights or soldiers). Legos were wonderful for building things, including firearms. And my Mom bought us a marble set that had ramps and other things, which we naturally turned into guns.

We when went to Disneyland, we bought frontier rifle cap guns to bring back. For halloween we dressed as pirates and had single shot pistols. In fact, when our church put on a play ("The Sound of Music") my Dad cut out several wooden props to be used as pistols for the German soldiers. We later turned these into rubber band guns. And all of this by the time I was 8.

Sometime when I was 6-8 I had a friend who had a BB gun that we would occasionally shoot. There was an empty cul de sac behind his house with a hill so it was perfectly safe to shoot old coke cans. This was fun, I never did ask my parents for a BB gun, because I could always use my friend's.

In Cub Scouts, for Summer Day Camp I was able to shoot my first real firearm, a single shot bolt action .22 rifle, with iron sights. That was a blast, too bad they only let us shoot 5 shots. I couldn't wait for the next year. And the year after that. All of the sudden, BB guns, just didn't have the same mystique that they used to.

Since my family wasn't a hunting family, we didn't have an arsenal of firearms. In fact, I think my Dad had a single revolver that he would shoot occasionally (I'll have to ask him to include it in my inheritance, although I probably will have my brothers to fight for it). I had some friends that hunted, although it seemed most of them did bow hunting. So, then only shooting fix I could get was once a year.

Then I became a Boy Scout. At Scout Camp there was a shooting range that you could go to as many times as you wanted. It was still just a bolt action rifle that you had ten shots with at a time, but there was always an opening. I went at least twice a day and somedays I would go as many as 10 times. I just couldn't get enough.

I was on staff at Scout Camp one year, and while I didn't get to shoot much during the week (I was on waterfront staff because it paid more), on the weekends when all of the scouts were gone, we could shoot to our hearts content (we just had to buy our own ammo in a town that was 2 hours away, good thing .22LR is cheaper than dirt). I thought I had hit paydirt.

Right before my family moved when I was 15, my boss gave me and my brother .22 rifles as a going away present. I have to admit, if I ever make a top ten list of gifts I have been given, that will be near the top. It was a Marlin Model 60 semiautomatic with a 17 round tube magazine. I still have it to this day and shoot it more than any other firearm.

I joined the ranks of America's gun owners. (My boss had checked with my parents to make sure it was OK to give me the gift). I loved it and went shooting with my Dad whenever I could. In high school, I found friends who also had firearms and realized what a small arsenal I had. Then again, I figured the only "need" for firearms was to hunt, so I was satisfied with what I had.

I graduated high school about the time the Assault Weapons Ban and the Brady Bill occured. At the time my political ideas with these two bills were uninformed at best. I figured you would never need a machine gun to hunt a deer (besides, that would ruin all the meat as you put 20 holes in it), so I didn't see a problem with the AWB. The Brady Bill however, I had something in the back of my head telling me that this was wrong. Mr. Brady had been shot when I was much younger so I didn't know all the details. Guns weren't a high priority (energy issues were my main interest) so I didn't follow them much. But, it just didn't seem right what the Brady Bill was doing (note that I didn't say "said it did" - which would be keep guns out of the hands of criminals). No one wants firearms (or any weapons) in the hands of criminals. Unfortunately, limiting the ability of law abiding citizens to acquire firearms also limits their ability to effectively defend themselves against armed criminals.

I recognized that self defense was a legitimate purpose of firearms (actually, a primary purpose) and began to research more. My first year in college was spent in the dorms and firearms were not allowed. So all I had was a BB pistol which I used to shoot wasps in the hallway (this is a fun way to get rid of these pests without angering the entire hive). Once I was living in an apartment, I retrieved my rifle from my parents home and went shooting regularly.

After getting married, I stopped by our apartment manager's office one day and saw they had an auction going on for all of the stuff that people had left behind. A saddle, computers, and other things, and I saw a shotgun. It was just a single shot break open, but I decided I needed to add to my firearms collection. I won it for $35. After sitting in a gun case for several years, I finally tried it out and it worked fine.

I did start to see some of my other friends' firearms at this time, a riot shotgun, a .357 revolver, .30-06 hunting rifle. I liked all of them, but never was able to shoot them. I had someone from work who owned a BAR (the fully automatic kind) and he went shooting with my boss every now and then (he owned several hundred acres). I never had the chance before I moved.

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