Tag Archives: gun control

Gun Number Two

After Gun Number One was stolen, it was about ten years before I bought another one.  I would like to have had another one just like the first one, because I was familiar with it, but they didn’t have one…because I bought it at a gun show.

The reason I bought another gun is that I was getting ready to move from Memphis to New Orleans, and I thought of New Orleans as this very dangerous place.  How funny.  Because I already lived in one of the most dangerous cities in the country.  But I didn’t know.

This time I bought another Smith & Wesson with a 4-inch barrel.  Technically, I bought it, but.  At the time I was friends with, and sometimes dated, an ex-police officer.  It turned out that I would have had to go through the background check and 15 day waiting period, but ex-police officers did not.  (What is wrong with this picture?)  So we put the gun in his name and I took it home that day.

I moved to New Orleans in August of 1992, and in January of 1993, I bought a house.  A couple of guys who worked with me at McDonald’s helped me move my meager possessions from my friends’ house where I’d been living.  At the end, I was about to write them a check, and they said they would prefer to get paid in cash.  No problem, I said.  Sit tight, and I’ll go to the ATM.  It never dawned on me to be concerned that I was leaving them alone in my new house.

Certain things I moved myself…my jewelry and my gun and other personal items, so they never even saw the gun.  But as I later guessed, leaving them alone gave them time to search.

I had an alarm system installed.  Two or three months later I got a call from the alarm company, saying the alarm was sounding.  When I got home, the glass in the front door had been broken (it was a very old door and the top half was glass).  There were a couple of people hanging around on the sidewalk trying to be helpful.  They said they had seen a guy in a hoodie standing in the doorway.  He just waited until the siren quit sounding and strolled away.

I was at least smart enough to wait for the police though before I went into the house.  It took them forever to get there.  One of the arguments people make for gun ownership, and I think it’s a good one.  Depending on where you live, you can’t always wait for the police to get there.

When we went inside, only one thing was missing.  You guessed it, the gun.

So now I’ve had two guns, and both of them were stolen.  I wasn’t scared of guns.  I knew how to use them.  I had gotten past the “can you kill somebody” point.  But for months, I was afraid.  I was afraid the people who took my gun would come back and hurt me, kill me, or take everything else.  I vowed I would never have another gun.  It’s been 20 years now, and I’ve kept that vow, and slept more easily.

Since then, I’ve had dogs.  That isn’t a foolproof method of protection, since an armed burglar can shoot the dog.  In fact, during this burglary, the burglars hurt my dog. He had recently had surgery for a broken leg and when I went inside, he was bleeding at the hip, where he had pins.  They had to remove the pins and let his leg heal as it might.  You could make the argument that that killed him, since later in life he had such severe arthritis that he had to be put down.  For that alone, if I’d still had my gun and knew who had done it, I would have killed them.  How could you hurt a helpless and injured dog, who probably only barked in a feeble effort to protect his territory?

Now.  The gun enthusiasts on Facebook think I am somehow against the 2nd Amendment, that I am for coming to take away their guns, that if I’m not with them I’m against them, that I’m a Liberal who wants government control of all your individual rights, etc., ad nauseum. I just get lumped in with with people who have never owned guns and don’t understand why anyone would want to.  This is not true.  If the gun enthusiasts are listening, I hope this will clear some of that up.

The problem is they aren’t listening.

We need better gun control, and it will take everybody to accomplish it.

Whatever Happened To Gun Number One?

I kept that gun for about seven years, but eventually fell upon hard times and pawned it.  Some weeks later, I went back to retrieve it.  The guy behind the counter acted shifty, and I didn’t realize until later that he was stalling.

Because before I knew it, I was surrounded by the police.  One was positioned at the door (to keep me from getting out), two others positioned themselves on either side of the room, and the fourth came up and talked to me.  He said, to make a long story short, this gun is listed as stolen  on the NCIC (the National Crime Information Center), so where did you get the gun?

I was so scared I was practically speechless.  I eventually managed to squeak out that I bought it at American Firearms, or whatever it was called, that I had gone through the background check and the waiting period, and that if it was stolen, I had no idea.  Which brings me to my first question about gun control (which I’m for, but I have questions.)  Why, during that 15 day waiting period, did they not figure out that the gun was stolen?  Because they were more focused on me than on the gun?

Unfortunately for you, the officer said, American Firearms is out of business.  But lucky for me, he knew the guy who had owned it and called him at home.  The guy had all his records at home and confirmed that I bought it legitimately.  I was off the hook.  But this brings up other questions.  Why was the guy out of business?  Was that voluntary?  Why did the police officer know him (and his home phone number)?  How lucky was I not to go to jail while they sorted it out later?

I was free to leave, and once we were outside, the police officer who had been talking to me said, We’re pretty sure that the pawn shop stole your gun. That made sense to me.  The officer said they couldn’t prove it, but would continue to investigate and let me know.  I never heard another word.

So somewhere out there is a stolen gun with my name attached to it.  This was my first inkling of several issues. Was the gun shop owner a fence?  Is that why he was out of business?  Why he was reachable by the police and so cooperative?  (But thank you, gun shop owner.)  It was also my first inkling of how much attention the police pay to pawn shops.  I’ve avoided them like the plague since then.

The NRA, which I hate, makes some good points.  The problems are not necessarily fixed by the proposed solutions.

Gun Number One

Or, Why I Don’t Own A Gun Anymore.

I bought my first handgun when I was in my mid-twenties.  Here’s what happened.

I was living on the top floor of a quadruplex in midtown Memphis.  It was a “shotgun” arrangement.  Bedroom in the front, bathroom, dining room, living room, kitchen, all lined up in a straight line from front to back.  For some reason I can’t recall, I decided to sleep in the “dining room”.

It was a pretty neat place.  On the other side of the top floor was a young married couple, the woman was named Claudia.  Claudia and I had much in common, and became friends.  We had balconies outside our “bedrooms” which were accessed by a set of floor-to-ceiling windows rather than a door.  We filled our balconies with houseplants from spring through fall.  We also loved flowers, and spent many Saturdays going together to junk stores, searching for flower vases and decorative “frogs”–the things you put in the bottom of vases to separate flower stems. Then we would go to a sort of flea market, have barbecue, and buy fresh flowers for the week.

Claudia also loved cats, as did I.  She had two Burmese cats, the youngest of which we referred to as the watchcat.  If you knocked on her door, the watchcat would proceed to howl in that strangely human way they have, like Siamese cats do.  He was also an attack cat.  Once the door was opened, he would attack your ankles in spite of the fact that you were being welcomed into the apartment by his owners.

I too had a cat, and one day she had kittens.  Sometimes I would put them on the bed and play with them before putting them back in the closet where they were born.  Then one day, I was sitting out on the balcony, and a guy next door, who lived in an identical building, on the side next to mine, said, How are the kittens?

I said, How do you know I have kittens?  He said, I’ve seen you through the window, playing with them on your bed.  Oh. My. God.  So I bought a gun.

First I sought advice from an ex-military acquaintance.  His first question was, Can you kill somebody? Because if you can’t, there’s no point in you buying a gun.  And don’t answer now.  Go home and think about it.  We’ll talk later.

After many sleepless nights, I went back and said, Yes.  I would hate it.  I might have nightmares for the rest of my life.  But if it was down to me or them, I would always want it to be them.

He said, then you’re ready, and gave me advice on what to buy.  I bought a snubnose .38 Smith and Wesson.  The advice was, buy something light enough for you to handle, but something with stopping power.  No girl guns.  I bought it at a gun shop called American Firearms or something like that.  I had to undergo a background check and wait 15 days to get the gun.

My acquaintance, whose name I have sadly forgotten, promised to show me how to use it.

Lesson Number One:  Dry-firing.  Unloaded, point the gun at things and pretend to shoot them.  You will get the feel of the gun and its trigger, and lose your fear of the gun.

I did not grow up around guns.  When I was a small child, my father used to hunt, so he must have had a shotgun. One day I came across him and his hunting partner gutting and cleaning a squirrel they had killed.  I was horrified.  I burst into tears and ran back into the house.  My father never hunted again.

Once I got the gun, my Saturday flower-hunting was replaced by Saturdays at the shooting range.  (In addition to the feel, you have to get used to the noise, which is startling.)  My acquaintance/teacher taught me gun basics.  Don’t ever point it at anyone unless you intend to shoot.  Don’t ever shoot unless you intend to kill, because you are never going to be good enough to aim to wound.  Aim for the central mass of the person.

Slowly I absorbed these lessons, and it became about accuracy.  My gun did not have much of a range, so my targets would be like 25 feet or closer, and my acquaintance/teacher’s targets would be like 50 or 100 feet.  He said I didn’t need anything closer than that range, because if I ever had to use the gun, it would be when somebody was already in my apartment.

Next post:  So whatever happened to that gun?

Only in Florida (Or Maybe Not)

Due to our friends, the NRA (with special thanks to Marion Hammer), last year the Florida legislature enacted a statute saying that all gun laws are the province of the State.  Any counties or cities which had their own ordinances were required to repeal them and were prohibited from enacting any others.

So an interesting development has taken place.  In the Meadow Hills neighborhood in Tallahassee, a guy named Lear is complaining about one of his neighbors, Cowart.  Cowart is shooting squirrels in his back yard with a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with buckshot.  Lear says this is dangerous.  Cowart says he only shoots squirrels on the ground, not in the trees.  Lear and other neighbors dispute this, and say they are finding buckshot in their yards.  It used to be illegal to shoot a firearm in residential areas here, but no longer.   A slight oversight on the part of the State legislature.

So this year, the Florida legislature enacted an amendment to the statute, saying it’s illegal to “recklessly or negligently discharge a firearm on any property used as a dwelling”.  When that happened, Lear complained again.  And you can guess what happened.  Nobody knows what “reckless” or “negligent” means.  For the most part Lear is complaining to the wrong people.  He’s complaining to local authorities.  He did get one thing right.  He complained (filed an affadavit) with the State Attorney’s office.  You are always better off to ask a State law enforcement agency to enforce a State law.

For instance, murder is a State law.  Local authorities are allowed to investigate and arrest suspected murderers.  But only the State can charge and prosecute them.  People, for the most part, do not understand how government works.

The State Attorney cited a State law that it is legal for people to shoot nuisance, fur-bearing animals which cause damage to private property.  And Cowart says the squirrels are eating his wiring.  (I wonder if anybody proved that?) So Lear lost again.  For now.  He needs to get to the right people with his concerns (the legislature).  And just in case you think Lear is some kind of pacifist squirrel-hugger kind of guy, he is a Navy veteran and a member of the NRA himself.

Which brings me to the NRA (again).  I hate them.  If they had a lick of sense, as we say in the South, they would support reasonable gun-control measures.  Instead, they have been hijacked by the all-or-nothing people.  ANY gun control or registration is like the promise of some future Armageddon.  They oppose all efforts to regulate guns, and operate on the Slippery Slope Theory. “When you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns”.  What about the concept of trying to keep guns out of the hands of outlaws?  Granted, that will be imperfect, but it would help.

I decidedly don’t hate gun owners, or hunters. or hunting, or personal protection with guns.  The people I know who own guns are fanatics about safety and aren’t fanatics about regulation, and are members of the NRA.  They would NEVER shoot squirrels in their neighborhoods.

The NRA is in a perfect position to advise and help construct reasonable gun control regulations.  Instead, their position is that no such laws are acceptable.  (See:  Slippery Slope.)  Somebody needs to stage a coup.  What we need is a regime change at the NRA.