I've said before that folks in the fire department kinda know me as a "gun guy". And I'm OK with that. I have friends ask me all the time about guns. Do you like 9mm? Ever shot a fifty caliber?
Stuff like that.
But I had a first the other day. A bit of a surprising first too.
Brett is a friend of mine. He has been working here longer than I have, but we have worked together off and on over the last several years. He is a nice guy, and very smart, highly intelligent. We often laugh at each others jokes although no one else gets the references. He is smarter than I, and I respect that. He is a bit eclectic though.
Did I say eclectic? Picture a free-spirited hippie from the early '70's, except with out the drugs and sex. Brett doesn't need the drugs, he's already far out there. He drives a VW micro bus. He is adamant about recycling. He likes to hang his clothes on a line to dry, because the clean air gives him more energy when he wears them.
I think Brett thinks of himself as a free spirit. He is quick to assist the less fortunate. He helped his church with a relief mission to Somewhatistan (I don't remember the country) after an earthquake. This is a guy who loves all peoples, and worries about the environment and animals.
Now, none of that is a bad thing at all. I just wanted to make sure you guys have a glimpse of what the man is like.
A few days ago, Brett pulled me aside to ask me about guns. I assumed he was looking for general information. I said "What do you want to know?"
He said "I'm thinking about getting a gun for defense. Can you tell me which one to get, and how to get a license to carry?"
I didn't know what to say. This was very unlike him. I asked if he had ever owned a gun, and he said he had never even shot a gun before. I asked him why he would want one then.
He said "You know, after the shooting the other day (V. Tech), and after working here and seeing all the things we see, I just realized that stuff like that can happen anywhere and anytime. I know I'm a good guy, and I hang around good people, but you never know. I have kids and a wife, and I don't want to be anywhere and have something happen and I can't do anything about it. There was a shooting in my neighborhood last week."
We talked for quite a while. I answered questions, talked about the laws, talked about various guns, and I really got a feel for what he was after. He has realized that it can happen anywhere and anytime. He knows that bad guys don't obey the law. He has taken a step out of the darkness of disbelief and toward the light of acceptance.
Which brought me to my problem. I can't make that decision for him. I can't tell him what weapon (if any) is right for him and his family. I can only inform. I can help. I can tell him what I do.
I offered my own philosophy on the subject. And I offered, strongly, to take him and his wife shooting. I told him I would bring the weapons, and the ammo. All he or they had to do was tell me when. He is planning when to go now.
All of this caused me to consider the entire "gun control" movement. I offer my observations, and opinions;
The gun control crowd really got started in the 60's. The GCA '68 passed in a time when folks were screaming for making love not war. The protesters and college students of that time became the leaders of this time.
The whole movement "ramped up" into the 1980's, and culminating in the 1994 Assault Weapons ban. That ban, of course, was let expire. Part of that was caused by the fact that the ban wasn't and couldn't be shown to lessen crime. It did nothing.
The events of September 11, 2001 also showed the country that rules and laws and feel good solutions are not enough to keep evil out of our midst. I think that was the start of the swinging of the pendulum back again.
There is a move in the Congress at this time to create another weapons ban. As of yet, it hasn't picked up a lot of steam. Even after the tragic events at Virgina Tech, there was only a murmur for a ban.
I think it is possible that the latest ban attempt is a sort of last ditch try by the gun control crowd. I believe, and think they realize, that the coming generation was raised around evil black rifles, where as they have tried to demonize them because they were new to them.
I think on some level they know that if they can't get some gun control legislation out soon, it may be too late. That the coming generation of voters, and legislators are not as extremist on gun control as they themselves are. I believe that it will be harder and harder to project the image of evil onto "assault weapons" because people will be more exposed to them. The younger crowd will have seen them in movies and video games, and will not associate them with a "new type of weapon" as the aging flower children do. To the younger generations, they have been around forever.
If people like my friend Brett can accept the fact that they must be responsible for themselves, then maybe there is hope for rest of the hoplophobes.