Sep 30, 2010

How did...

Bob S. (From Three Boxes of BS) asked in comments on my last post:
How did you get started; in shooting, collecting, activism?

What state law would you like to see: repealed or passed?

Now that is some serious blog fodder, and I'll answer in parts.

I started shooting like many young men: courtesy of the Boy Scouts of America. I had asked my parents (repeatedly) for a BB gun starting around age 10. They were not shooters, and there were not (to my knowledge) guns in the house. They held to their guns (pun intended) and told me I could get a BB gun after I had earned my Rifle Shooting merit badge. Our scout camp didn't allow shooting until you were 13, if I remember correctly. The summer I was of age, I made that merit badge my single goal for the week I was at camp.

I earned it.

I asked my parents for a BB gun. They told me I could start saving my allowance and when I had enough, we'd go get what I chose. I saved what I could, but as an early teenager, there were plenty of other things to spend my allowance on. Summer turned into fall, school started up again, and still no BB gun. My birthday came and went; nothing. I was convinced that I'd get one for Christmas.

Christmas morning, I remember being very disappointed that there was nothing resembling a rifle-length box under the tree. Turns out my parents, those clever people, had hidden the package elsewhere in the house. I tore into it when they brought it out, unveiling a Crosman 2100 pellet gun. I spent the vast majority of Christmas day outside in a foot of snow putting holes in tin cans and paper targets.

That air rifle went all over with me from then on. I added a scope and spent a large chunk of money on BBs and pellets. We lived in a pretty rural area, and property lines were a vague concept out there. All over the woods and fields, plinking targets of opportunity...

But as the scripture goes, "When I became a man, I put away childish things." (1Cor 13:11) I graduated high school, went off to college, and the air rifle got jammed into a corner of my parents' mud room. I shot it once in a while on breaks, but it had lost some of the fascination. (I think it may still be in that mud room, come to think of it.)

After I left college, I was living hand-to-mouth, and guns weren't on my list of hobbies. When I was 21 or so, I decided I wanted a .22 for plinking. I went to my local Kmart and bought a Remington 597 and a brick or two of ammo.

That 597 and I spent a lot of time at a coworker's vacant lot punching holes in tin cans and turning money into smoke and noise. I wasn't a great shot with it (hindsight: it was the rifle), but I had fun. A year or so later, a roommate's coworker invited us to a shoot. We showed up with the ammo he'd told us to bring and spent a day playing. Lots of guns, although nothing particularly high-dollar. A Garand, some Tauri, HiPoint, a few .22s, that sort of thing.

At the next shoot (a year later) my 597 fired out of battery and forcibly removed the extractor from the bolt. I stuck it in a closet and didn't think about it for the next couple years. My shooting was on hiatus.

When I was 25 or so, I started talking hunting with a fellow firefighter, and he VERY generously offered to take me turkey hunting with him the next day. I showed up, and we went. I was one-hundred-percent hooked, on the spot. (Tip: if you want to hook someone on hunting, spring turkey is a GREAT way to do it. Comfortably warm and exciting - none of this 20-degrees in a treestand for four or five hours nonsense.) That fall I bought my first grown-up gun - a Remington 870 Express SuperMag. I took my hunter safety class shortly thereafter, and shot my first deer late in the season (December 2005).

Initially, my guns were simply tools of necessity: I was hunting deer, turkey, and crows: the shotgun was fine. We went out for coyotes late that winter, and I picked up a .270. Overkill for coyotes, but I wanted a multi-purpose rifle.

Over the next two years, I picked up a few range toys and such. A T/C Omega muzzleloader, a Savage .17HMR, a Remington .30-06, and a Ruger Mini-14 all found their way into my gun cabinet. At some point I did get my .22 repaired, although it never was quite the same. Pure jamomatic.

Summer 2007, I moved in with the MrsZ-to-be, and took her shooting a couple times. We got an 870 for her (which is still new-stiff; we need to get that puppy out and broken in the rest of the way), and a few range toys appeared. I found out where the local gun shops were, checked out a couple gun shows, and applied for my NY pistol permit in spring of 2008.

Early summer of '08 found me with a crisp new pistol permit, and I promptly (the day I got it) completed the purchase of my first pistol. Two weeks later, the Springfield 1911A1 came home. The following two months increased the collection with a pair of S&W wheelguns, and I'd been bitten by the S&W bug. It could just have easily been Ruger or Colt. I went to the gun shop looking for a .357 wheelgun to have with me when hunting, and the 28-2 was the one that spoke to me.

Since then, the gun cabinet has become a gun safe, and the collection has increased in value by orders of magnitude. I've bought and horsetraded, and sold a few pieces here and there. I've learned what *I* like, as opposed to what ArfCom says I should like. (I have never owned a Glock. Not because they're bad guns, but because I don't like how they feel in my hand. I would buy one for a good price.)

I don't consider myself a collector, though. A more accurate term for my kind is "accumulator". There are honest to goodness collectors out there whose goals are very specific, e.g., "I want one of each iteration of S&W Model 10." (That'd be a hell of a collection.) I accumulate what appeals to me, and if I have something that doesn't make my heart thump a little faster, I have no issue with sending it down the road to finance something that I *do* love.

So, that's the start of shooting and collecting. (Side note: Dad now owns guns, having received a few from his mother when they moved from their house to a senior home. I'm in no hurry to acquire them, but I do want to shoot that .25-20WCF.)


Activism? I don't know that I'd even call myself an activist. I'm strongly pro-gun, pro-carry, and pro-hunting, but I don't do a lot of things I'd consider activism. I make it known that I'm happy to take new shooters to the range, and if someone asks my opinions, I'm never shy about sharing them. There are decals on my truck ("Peace through superior firepower", a Gadsden Flag, a Sons of Liberty flag, and "Forget Tibet, Free America") but I don't rub peoples' noses in it either. I email and occasionally call my representatives, but haven't attended rallies. I tend to stay pretty far from politics on this blog, because other folks cover it better than I could.


State law to repeal - that's an easy one. The NY "assault weapon" ban. It's a mirror of the (expired) federal ban, and has continued the effects that had. A post-ban stripped AR receiver goes for market value in NY - $125-150, depending on whose rollmark you like. A documentable pre-ban receiver can run five times that much. For what purpose? An adjustable stock, an A2 "flash hider", and a bayonet lug. Post-ban magazines over 10 rounds are verboten, but fortunately there are lots of pre-bans floating around in free states that folks are more than willing to trade for brand-new on a 1:1 basis. (Side note: I would dearly love a handful of pre-ban 20-round AR mags. If anyone has them just collecting dust or something...)

Full-frame handguns are neutered to ten rounds, making it silly to carry anything double-stack. (8+1 of .45 or 10+1 of 9mm? Let me think.) Yes, there are pre-ban pistol magazines out there, but folks are a bit more protective of those than they are of AR magazines. A pre-ban 17-round Glock magazine runs nearly $70 on Gunbroker right now; that same magazine brand-new from Midway is $22. Not everyone tries to make that much on their magazines, but it does seem to be a trend. I've lucked into a handful of pre-ban mags for my S&W 5946 at reasonable prices.

The scary-looking-gun ban has had zero appreciable effect on crime; it's time for it to go. It was poorly thought out to begin with, and has served no purpose beyond sending dollars out of NY to folks in free states.

Now, what state law to pass? Again, easy. A complete revamp of the NY pistol permit system. The current system is a mess, dependent on the whims of a local (elected) judge to sign (or not) and restrict (or not) a pistol permit. The concept of waiting three to fifteen MONTHS simply to get the permit - and then up to a month waiting period for each individual purpose - is simply stifling trade. The vast majority of NY gun owners can't purchase a pistol at a gun show because they can't have them added to their permit that day.

New York needs to become shall-issue, at a state level, with a single format for permits, and start making reciprocity agreements. The registration of individual handguns, and the money-pit boondoggle of CoBIS needs to be ended, period. I'd be content to switch to a tiered FOID/CCW setup. Want to be able to purchase handguns for sporting purposes? Fine - go to the sheriff's office, fill out a one-page application, they run a criminal history, and issue a 5-year FOID on the spot. You can now purchase handguns and possess them for sporting purposes: hunting and target shooting. Want to carry? Go to the sheriff, fill out a two-page application - hell, add a character reference or two - add a set of fingerprints, and wait for the prints to come back. Two weeks, maybe three, you have your 5-year CCW. Purchase and carry. Simple.

I'd even be OK adding a training requirement to receive a CCW - *if and only if* the classes are free or extremely low-cost (a la hunter education). Charging $120 for a permit and another $300-500 for a CCW class simply prices some folks out of it.

There oughtn't be a law...

Thanks for the fodder, Bob!


Anonymous said...

"Turning money into smoke and noise" has a nice ring to it. :-)

I'd love to join you at the range sometime. It's been a long time since I've shot anything.

Bob S. said...

Well, I was thinking of several different posts but this works.

Always fascinating to hear how others have journeyed into the sports.

Thanks for sharing.

ZerCool said...

@ MHA - I'm sure it can be arranged.

@ Bob - oops. :) Slow night at work, I got on a roll.