By Simon A.
I came to the USA in my late twenties before the turn of the millennium. The reason was to marry my girlfriend and make a life here with my new family. My view of the USA had always been one of benign dominance and power, and most importantly to me the source of so much popular culture that held my attention. Always at the fringes though was the knowledge that “they had guns” and were very pleased about it. I didn’t have any idea why, so I did not understand it . . .
Growing up, I was only exposed to firearms in the guise of air rifles and my great uncle’s stash of handguns. I was young, so I knew no better, but the point was moot as well before I even had a chance of becoming interested there was a slew of mass killings; namely Hungerford and Dunblane. Within a short space of time all gun ownership was outlawed and everything had been confiscated. My great uncle wasn’t happy, but at the time, this all seemed like a good idea, and we all went about our business. I genuinely had no strong opinions about gun ownership, but it just never came up anymore.
Race forward a good ten years from my arrival in the US and I met someone who has since become a very good friend indeed. I don’t recall how it came up in conversation, but next thing I know he’s showing me a somewhat disturbing selection of firearms as if it were the most normal thing in the world. I’m not ashamed to admit that my first reaction was a mixture of “why would you need one of those?” and “are you paranoid or something?” with a healthy dose of “those are soooo dangerous!”. To his credit he patiently insisted I accompany him to the range.
Nobody was more surprised than me that I immediately became fascinated by all aspects of the sport. The engineering involved in a firearm engrossed me; the attention to detail, the tight tolerances required for the machine to work properly, the extreme forces involved in the act, yet the the finesse required to do it well. Where my euro-mindset once saw primitive brute force I now could appreciate the finer details. As is often so true in life; on the surface things appear black and white, but life is mostly shades of grey. That is especially true when speaking of guns.
I’ll cut to the chase; I now own a 9mm handgun, and a 12 gauge shotgun. While my interest lies generally in sporting activities, I am quietly reassured by the fact that I am also have the chance to defend my home (and self) from those that would choose to cause harm.
The idea that sealed it for me was that it really didn’t matter what the media says, or what government does, criminals will always be able to get guns. In my mind it was as simple as that. So if there’s a chance that a home-invader is going to be armed then wouldn’t it be prudent for me to do that same? Surely I have the right to defend myself and my family? Quite fundamental really.