A Call to Arms!

6/25/16 Saturday

In the wake of so many mass shootings as a result of violent gun users, these irresponsible, terror-inducing, fear mongers, and not law abiding citizens at all, I decided to delve a little deeper into just what is involved when it comes to owning and buying a gun, as well as the statistics on gun violence and accidental shootings. I was raised in WV. A place that is very pro-2nd amendment. My grandfather had a shot gun and my mother had a pistol. While I have only known law-abiding citizens with guns, I have friends who have had the opposite experience, ones for whom the only guns they’ve seen were in the hands of criminals. I think that’s a shame, as much of our experience is what shapes our views on a particular topic and with something as touchy as guns and the right to buy/own one, whether concealed or not, it’s a big debate. My stance is this: I look at guns, collecting, owning, and using them, as a hobby like any other hobby (i.e. fishing, golf, etc.) and to that end believe that everyone has the right to partake in that which interests him/her. However, I do believe, since guns are dangerous and potentially deadly, there should be restrictions and requirements in place to A.) keep guns out of the hands of criminals, violent offenders, and those that wish to or are planning to do harm and B.) ensure that we are knowledgeable, responsible, sane, and safe regarding their use. I’m not a firearm enthusiast by any means, never got into them despite where I grew up.

I can remember going to a local store, it may have been Kmart, honestly I don’t remember, and hanging out in the gun section. I haven’t seen a “gun department” in a long while. But the gun section was right next to the fishing rod section, it was totally normal. Not something that was just for rednecks or survivalist types, just everyday citizens could go up to the counter and see a gun. Many gun enthusiasts heartily quote the 2nd amendment when gun control advocates suggest stricter requirements and restrictions regarding gun purchase and ownership.

The 2nd Amendment’s actual text:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The wording, meaning, and intent of this simple statement has been debated and re-interpreted many times over the last two hundred years. And many have wondered if it’s even relevant in modern times given its original intent. In the years after the War of Independence many of the states began to draft many of their own constitutions individually. They wanted a new nation, a nation that was wholly separate from the tyrannical monarchy of Britain. Many people in that time, before and even after the Revolutionary War, were afraid of tyranny and looked at the right to bear arms by each state, as well as its individuals, as a go-to measure in case they were called upon to stand in as a militia or a makeshift army. It was originally a means of protecting themselves against potential oppression. In that context, and for those times, it is understandable that they would need something that would, not only grant their citizens a new sort of freedom, but ensure that everyone’s liberties were protected. Our founding fathers probably never imagined that their simple words would inspire such passionate debate.

So I was wondering about the gun laws, restrictions, or lack thereof in this day and age, and it occurs to me, not being a firearm enthusiast myself, that I know very little of what is actually required to own a gun anywhere. My mother never took her gun anywhere, it just stayed in its box. But I knew from very early on that it wasn’t a toy. She let me hold it when I was about 12 or so. That’s a rite of passage, for some kids, if they live somewhere remote enough. Some get to even do a bit of target practice. My mom said she’d have let me if we’d lived in a more rural an area, but she was too afraid to allow me to given that we lived in a residential area with many neighbors and too many things could go wrong. A very responsible gun owner decision on her part. She wanted to take me somewhere much more remote where I couldn’t accidentally shoot a person or pet. I was honestly relieved, as I didn’t really feel all that interested in handling it any further. I’ve still never fired a gun to this day. Although I’ve read that it is a thrill and rush to fire one and it releases endorphins. But gun shooting doesn’t work like it does on television. They’re powerful little machines. Yes it is essentially a machine. Something which shouldn’t be played with, mishandled, or handled while under the influence.

So let’s see what I found out about guns and responsible gun ownership. I now reside in the Garden State, New Jersey, which happens to have some of the strictest gun laws in the country. For instance, here, a BB gun is considered a real firearm and you must have a license/permit to have one as well. If one is found in your possession and it is unregistered you will be arrested. Period. And the process by which one must obtain a handgun is pretty intense. One of the things you must provide is a good reason why you need a concealed handgun in the first place. They also require that you can demonstrate that you know how to actually use the gun. That was one of my 2nd biggest questions in my mind, and perhaps should be for others as well, as far as gun ownership goes. Do they know what they’re doing? Can they handle a gun? Do they know about its recoil? Guns on TV don’t recoil because they are firing blanks or aren’t real guns, they’re props for film purposes. Can they clean it without shooting themselves in the foot? I know some gun enthusiasts would argue why would someone who didn’t know how to use a gun want, or even buy one? Lots of people do lots of things out of desperation. You also have to have a mental health background check in the state of NJ. Gun permits from outside NJ are not accepted. They must all be registered here. But there are several states that accept NJ permits and licenses.

I decided to take a look at upcoming gun shows for my state:

Looks like there aren’t any gun shows coming up in my state of residence. Let’s check NY shall we?