17 December 2012
Change Down Range
It was easy to fall in love with guns as as kid, and it didn't hurt growing up on Army posts. In one of four high schools, I competed on a NRA rifle team and wore my father's shooting jacket from his years on rifle teams. My first range, under the bowling alley at Ft Monroe, was peacefully dark and brightly lit at the business end with paper targets called the Canadian bullseye.
A wooden block with drilled holes held rounds of .22 long rifle ammunition for a single loading bolt action target rifle. My father told me to ignore the target center and concentrate on grouping - five rounds per target - anywhere. Only when I was able to closely group could I work on moving them, Kentucky wind-age style, to target center.
Never did get there. At least no where close to the Old Man. Still, I learned basics that held me in good stead on the basic training ranges of Ft Jackson where I qualified M-16 Expert - best in my platoon - second best in the company. I'm still proud of that but pride would fare far worse on the police academy range where I learned it's a rare marksman who is good with both long and short guns.
Couldn't hit the side of a barn with a S&W .357 and was even worse with a 9mm Browning Hi Power automatic. Still, there's something about a range. Gun powder's saltpeter and Hoppe's No. 9 combine for a blue steeled cologne that I still smell on my hands despite not having been on a range in almost 20 years. The smooth slide of an oiled bolt assembly. The clicked confirmation of a seated magazine. A thumb pushed safety. God, how I loved guns.
I left the range a long time ago but passionately argued for the right to bear arms with the understanding there were a lot of yahoos out there quoting the 2nd Amendment but always leaving out the detail of an 18th century "standing militia." Instead of school shootings, my childhood nightmares centered on a nuclear war and I spent 1st and 2nd grade diving under my desk in drills. The drills stopped in third or fourth grade. I guess some kids lost teeth or worse jumping under their desk while school admin types rightly wondered what the point of it all was -- What with an incoming squadron of Soviet ICBMs.
While I haven't owned a gun in over 30 yrs, as an infantryman and cop, who felt it a right for others, I used the image of a single man standing in front of a T-80 tank in Tiananmen Square holding, what looked to be a plastic shopping bag, and told anyone who'd listen, "That crap'll never happen in my country."
But my country has never been invaded by Commies. Only by us.
Can our gun culture be changed? Not sure it's the individual cowboy spirit as much as it's our competitive nature - economic and religious - that life is a zero sum game. In religion, there's no fun in going to heaven unless you know people are going to hell. There's no fun in being rich without people being poor and, in a very primal way, assault rifles, 30 round magazines, laser sights and 10mm Glocks... all fit right into zero sum. Kill or be killed.
Are we just arming a mad house to the teeth?