Friday, June 10, 2011

Me & Guns: How'd I Become A Gunnie?

A lot of the gunbloggers are doin' it. It's Jennifer's fault.

...I grew up in a house with guns, exactly two of them: a Remington 941 .22 (a very nice bolt-action rifle my Dad had bought used when he was a teenager) and a shotgun (Remington's 870 -- hey, he'd liked the rifle!).

When I was very young, The Guns were Do Not Touch items that lived in their cases at the back of the big closet; Dad kept the ammunition locked up in the master bedroom. About the time each of us kids were big enough, we each learned to shoot, starting with a toy BB gun and graduating to the .22 (adult supervision required!). We were fortunate in having a big old "bomb shelter"/tornado shelter in a berm in the back yard with a mile-plus of cornfield beyond and we still got my Dad's Socratic version of the Four Rules. Merely memorizing them wasn't a passing grade -- you had to demonstrate understanding of them in word and deed, starting with the BB gun.

A little older, a little bigger, each of us went deer hunting (a shotgun-only sport in Indiana) with Dad. To my knowledge, he only took two deer in all his married life, but he hunted them every year. With a child along, this took the form of tramping about in the woods, quiet advice as to how, where and why (and how to cross fences), and at the close of the day, a shot or three at a dead tree. Visiting one of the family friends about that time (a farmer in downstate Illinois, there's irony for ya) , I was handed a .22 revolver, a target and a box of ammo, directed to the farthest outbuilding and told, "Have fun!" Pity no one explained about sight alignment or that it was okay to use two hands: I genuinely could barely hit the side of a barn. (It was, to be fair, the narrow side).

And that was it. Guns were a non-issue in my house: you had 'em, you used them carefully, they were not given any more emotional weight than a BB gun or lawn darts, fun but to be handled with care.

Leap forward: as a young adult on my own, primed by Heinlein, I found L. Neil Smith and learned there are a lot of people with political notions similar to my own. Very kewl, but I still did't buy any guns. (Mind you, I have always carried a knife or two). I didn't know anyone who shot, I didn't know where one could shoot and all I knew about gun stores what what I saw on TV (D0n's Gun's ads and cop-show stereotypes; but I repeat myself). LNS's firearms philosophy made good sense to me but I didn't feel I could apply it in the real world.

The years passed. Eventually, one fine day my ex-to-be got in an online argument and used the "a firearm is like a fire extinguisher...." line. I pointed out we had neither an' he dug out a nice Colt Diamondback. So, ask I, why have we not shot it? --And let's pick up an extinguisher, too. (He had no idea I had ever shot and had automatically assumed I'd be anti. Yeah, should'a been a message to both of us there, hey?)

Lo and behold, there were places to shoot not far away, they even rented guns, and I wasn't half bad with some instruction. Within a year, I had a carry permit (pretty much needed to carry a gun even to the range in Indiana; our laws are good otherwise and that one's up for change), owned a firearm or two and shot regularly.

Things have developed from there; while Tam takes mild amusement at my collection of Spanish semi-autos (mostly Star, honestly-made little guns, IMO built to a price but built well for that price), my normal range fodder is a Ruger Mk II .22 and a pair of 1911s in .38SA and .45 (the latter a nice Sistema Colt with C&S lockwork).

I'm a gunnie. It's L. Neil Smith's fault but my Dad paved the way.


Bob B. said...

I also like the star and llama pistols and think they're a real bargain for what you get.

Tango Juliet said...

Good for you!

I was blastin' w/firearms LONG before I discovered Heinlein and L. Neil and Clint Smith and Rand.

It's just how it was on the farm. Had to know how to use firearms. And of course, firearms had a recreational use as well.

Sport Pilot said...

I'd suggest adding a S&W M-37 or 442 to the stable as well as a Ruger 10-22 and either a Remington 870 or a Mossberg 500/590. Your good people, so's your roomie, hope to meet both of you one of these day's.

Earl said...

Nice story, thanks.

Roberta X said...

SP: I have a Savage .22 rifle but I'm more likely to take the EBR (MSR) with its CMMG .22 conversion. Dad's two Remingtons came to me, as neither of my siblings shoot (or much -- baby bro took pistol training but his boss was at pains to point out that Reserve chaplains do not carry weapons).

I don't own any S&W revolvers and I won't: Tamara collects them. I do keep looking for a nice Colt DA.