Leyla wrote:I could have sworn someone around here once made the argument that the right to bear arms mean that "we, the people" could topple our own oppressive governments when they infringed upon our freedoms.
That was me.
I started re-thinking that position when that guy went into the capitol building in Denver and tried to declare himself Emperor. I thought, this is what I've been defending. This is what happens when you express your politics with a gun.
A conversation with a friend got across to me that to really oppose the government in a meaningful fashion, you would need a hell of a lot more than handguns. You would need real military equipment - howitzers, tanks, all that. And I have to admit it would make me nervous and suspicious if my neighbor had that kind of arsenal.
Still, that is hardly the only argument in favor of 2nd Amendment rights. I decided what I needed to have an informed decision on the issue was personal experience. I've never really been around guns and found it a little freaky to be near one. I didn't really know anything about them, except in a very abstract way.
The first step was to go to a gun show. Here in Pennsylvania, these are fairly common, and there is a huge variety of handguns, rifles, knives, ammo and literature on display and for sale. (As a side note, the AR-15 is once again legal to buy and own. The AR-15 and the AK-47 were banned for a while.)
This was a completely alien environment for me. It seemed very wierd to be in the middle of this arsenal. But I've been to guitar shows and motorcycle shows, and this was really no different. After a while I calmed down and started talking to people and such. The people were generally very nice, with the exception of one very crappy old man in a wheelchair that was trying to sell model cars. (WTF?)
The next step was to take the NRA basic gun safety class, which I just finished on September 19. This entails handling and firing pistols, and learning how to do that safely. After nine hours in the classroom and on the range, being around guns is about as exciting as being around a table saw. Yes, you need to treat it with respect and follow the right safety precautions - but it is just a tool.
During the class, I fired a .22 target pistol, a huge revolver, and a Glock 9 mm. I preferred the Glock and ending up shooting a box of 50 rounds through that.
Shooting a gun at a range is very much like archery - particularly Kyudo - and actually had a strange similarity to bowling as well. You have a bunch of elements to deal with - grip, stance, breathing - and it takes a lot of concentration to get it all working at once.
Anyway, handling and owning guns is not really a big deal, if you go about it properly and follow all the relevant safety precautions. Hmmm... kind of like riding a motorcycle. If you go about it right, it's pretty safe. It takes a certain level of personal responsibility.
A particular issue that came up a lot in the class is Concealed Carry. Here in Pennsylvania, you can go to the Sherriff's office and apply for a CCW permit, which they will issue unless you have a felony or a history of domestic abuse or something. However, across the river in New Jersey, the laws are completely different. The instructor referred to New Jersey as a "Communist country." In order to cross over into New Jersey, you are supposed to write to the police ahead of time, explain why you need to do that (e.g., going to a shooting match in NJ), and they are supposed to write back with a letter giving you permission to do so. However, they never actually send out such letters, and no one bothers to actually write to them.
I have no idea how many people in Pennsylvania actually carry on a daily basis. From what I've read, if they are doing it right, I should never know that they are carrying.