Random Thoughts on Motorcycles, Marriage, Flyover States and Gun Bans

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As I’d alluded to in my discussions of laying down arms and enjoying some live country music, Mrs. Kee and I are on vacation. We rented a nice car (I see why RF drives a Mercedes), took some time off from Austin, and headed over to The Natural State to watch some country shows and eat some good food. Back when I still rode motorcycles, a trip to Hot Springs was my first “big” trip. I was 15 and riding a very well used (and loved) Kawasaki Ninja 250. I learned a lot about decreasing radius turns and conservation of momentum riding that bike up and down Highway 7 between Hot Springs and Southern Missouri . . .

Eventually, I was sidelined by a cupping front tire and had to park it for the rest of the weekend. I still distinctly remember my first inexplicable front end vibration. I also remember our first father son experience that included me pulling over, waiting for my dad to realize I wasn’t behind him anymore, and his panicked, high speed return to find his son on the side of the road with his helmet off. Once he realized that I hadn’t wadded myself up on the side of the road, but had made the decision to pull over for further diagnosis, he calmed down a bit and we talked about our options. I remember even then thinking that if my tire had gone kaput, I would have been a looooong way from help.

As I carved through those same turns a bit older, married, and wrapped in fine German leather, I drifted back to my first real riding experience. Like it was yesterday, I remember how my Arlen Ness mesh jacket scraped up the skin on my forearms. I had a First Gear jacket that was arguably more comfortable, but I remember how damn cool the Arlen Ness was. And since I was around “real” motorcyclists for the first time, and my Ninja 250 was decidedly uncool, I wanted to make sure those guys and gals knew that I was a cool guy. But damn, that jacket was uncomfortable.

I also remember driving through a sudden rain storm later that day. It had been brutally hot. So hot that exceeding the speed limit didn’t help cool me down, though I kept trying in the name of science. And out of nowhere, this storm sprang up and I just kept getting hit with these fat, cold, wet drops until I was thoroughly soaked. It was my first time riding in the rain, and I was on one of the twistiest roads in America. To this day, I’m still surprised I didn’t lowside in one of those beautiful turns.

As happens when I’m lost in my own thoughts, I make a certain kind of face. My wife has been with me long enough to know that face, and stirred me from my thoughts with a “Whatcha thinkin’ about, boss?”

I dutifully relayed the story of my first big ride in Hot Springs to her and smiled thoughtfully while she questioned my sanity (along with parents’) for doing all those things so many years ago. Then she got quiet and contemplative the way I’ve learned she does. And after a few quiet minutes, she asked, “Where do people here go to get groceries?” It seemed that we’d both reached the conclusion that we were far from “things” albeit two different thought processes took us there.

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One thing led to another and, as they sometimes do, we got to talking about guns. My wife is a bit of a Johnny-come-lately to firearms, having shot them some before meeting me, but being hurled full-force into the world of boomsticks by taking me on as a partner. Luckily, she’s an independent, open-minded type who believes foremost in liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And armed with just a touch of info, she’s deadly in an argument.

A small sidenote to reinforce that fact: it wasn’t too long after we’d gotten married that we had dinner with another couple. Upon finding out that I wrote for TTAG, the woman in the other couple laid into me about magazine capacity restrictions. This was shortly after Newtown and the nice young woman was going on and on about how all those babies could have been saved if the Newtown shooter had only been armed with ten-round magazines.

She then flipped it over to me, demanding to know how I could be in favor of “high capacity” mags. But before I could get started, my wife frankly explained that as a small-statured lightweight woman, she didn’t stand a chance in hell against a larger physical attacker. And as someone who spent a good deal of her time home alone, she preferred to have the best tools available to her including “as much damn ammo ready to go as I want.”

Firm as she might be in her convictions, she’s a relative neophyte when it comes to discussing the politics of guns. Whereas most readers of TTAG, not to mention the writers, have rehashed the same old arguments time and time again, my wife doesn’t spend her days debating strangers on the internet. So we started a discussion about gun banners.

I told her that being out in that remote part of Arkansas and thinking about the likes of Michael “Big Gulp” Bloomberg made me feel a lot of things. I grew up in a small town. I remember very clearly being Life Flighted at the age of 20 to the nearest hospital after a motorcycle wreck. I took a helicopter ride because the nearest ambulance couldn’t get to my location for 20-25 minutes. Luckily, a chopper was nearby. Police response times weren’t much better. There are simply too many square miles to have two- or three-minute response times like those claimed by the police forces of large urban areas.

That’s why you don’t find a lot of gun banners out in flyover country. The people you find where I grew up tend to be very self reliant. They go to the hospital for broken bones and open wounds that won’t stop bleeding, not for the sniffles. If they call the police, they assume that it will be 25 minutes or more and tool up accordingly.

I guess to your average big city gun banner, my hometown neighbors are too busy clinging to their guns and their religion to see the light. I doubt my hometown neighbors really care about “Big Gulp” or his feelings all that much.

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But things that happen on the national stage do affect people in flyover country. A national magazine capacity restriction bill might not move the needle for your average Chicagoan or New Yorker, but it would present a certain moral quandary for the residents of the thousands of small rural towns that dot the United States. The same quandary they’d face if Dianne Feinstein and crew had managed to enact another “assault weapons” ban.

The AR-15 and guns like it, much-reviled by big city gun grabbers, are some of the best means of protection available for the residents of rural areas. Protection against both two- and four-legged critters. Keen observers might notice that Arkansas, like a lot of rural states, has had a bit of a problem with meth. I don’t believe it’s much of a stretch to imagine that a roaming trio of tweakers, emboldened by a lack of law enforcement in the area, might find, for instance, an elderly couple with some cash and jewelry an easy target.

A national ban on America’s most popular rifle or magazines that hold more than ten rounds is sure to disproportionately affect those out here in flyover country. I’m a pragmatist on the issue. I live in a big city, with low rates of crime, great neighbors, and fast police response times. While I’d certainly consider myself hobbled by having to use something other than an AR-15 with a 30-round magazine to defend my castle, and I’d fight with everything I had and I’d make do. And given the aforementioned factors, the odds are likely that I’ll never have to write a follow-up about how wrong (or right) I was.

But the same doesn’t apply for the residents of rural Arkansas, Montana, Texas, Idaho, etc. A national ban on the best tools for the job forces the aforementioned residents to make a decision between giving up those tools or committing one or more felonies.

While the waters may be calm at the moment as it relates to federal gun control bans, magazines capacity restrictions, and so on, they will inevitably come up again. And instead of trying to fight their hysterical screaming with facts and figures, I’ll remind them of the Korean shopkeepers who protected their property during the LA riots. And the residents along Hwy 7 in rural Arkansas.

 

comments

  1. avatar Jim R says:

    The Powers That Be don’t care about the rubes in flyover country. To them, they’re just a bunch of backwoods hillbillies, too busy thumping their Bibles and humping their sisters to be worth anything to them.

    1. avatar Jake Tallman says:

      Indeed. The great irony being that without corn farmers (yes, I know not every country person grows corn, but I’m trying to make a point), this entire country would literally grind to a halt.

      1. avatar DickDanger says:

        I gotta agree with that. If all the “enlightened” coast dwellers think that we’re all backwards and inferior, I say we stop growing their food, then we’ll see who comes crawling to who.

        1. avatar Scott P says:

          Here here!!

  2. avatar Whiskey 1-1 says:

    Uh, unless you wrote this earlier, you’ve got a long drive to get to the Brawl in Kingsville by tomorrow morning.

  3. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    If they call the police, they assume that it will be 25 minutes or more and tool up accordingly. Hmmm….seems to be about my experience with the cops.

    1. avatar pod says:

      I live in Miami. There was a shooting in the apartment building behind me two years ago. I heard the shots, and, from my back window, saw the suspect running. I had my trusted Beretta Px4 at the ready, just in case he went south (towards me) rather than north. I phoned it in and waited. The first cruiser wasn’t on the scene for about twenty minutes. So, even in urban areas, the police are often many minutes away.

      Urban, suburban, or rural – the government shouldn’t be dictating which tools we choose for defense.

  4. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    Keen observers might notice that Arkansas, like a lot of rural states, has had a bit of a problem with meth. Yeah, we have a trailer court in North Vernon that is of world renown for being the meth capitol of the world.

  5. avatar Scott says:

    Another great piece Tyler. You’re good at this!

  6. avatar Governmentknowsbest says:

    If only we were as enlightened as those who would seek to control us….

  7. avatar Ralph says:

    “Whatcha thinkin’ about, boss?”

    Whoa. Your wife calls you “boss?” Wow. My ex-wives have called me a lot of things, but none of them was “boss.” And the sh1t their lawyers called me was even worse.

    Good story, man.

    1. avatar Garrison Hall says:

      My wife calls me “Dammit” . . .

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        From the old comedy routine, the correct response is, “I’m not Dammit, I’m Jesus Christ.”

  8. avatar Hannibal says:

    I wonder if it’s a coincidence or targeted marketing that I see an ad for “Ninja repelling ammo” next to this page…

  9. avatar Grindstone says:

    I live in a large city and it still takes 15 min for the cops to show up for a DV call. The station is five miles away.

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      Police are not firefighters, they don’t wait in the station for a call to come in…

      1. avatar Robert says:

        Hard getting them away from the donuts firefighters don’t have that problem

      2. avatar Grindstone says:

        And yet they drive by my street all the time…

  10. avatar CCDWGuy says:

    We lived in East Tennessee for several years in a not so remote but out in a county and several of our neighbors and ourselves had our homes robbed. Ours twice, our dog was not much help. We organized a meeting with the local sheriff’s with our neighbors and they talked to us about what we could do and then asked the 20 or so family’s about how many of us had weapons available. Most hands went up and the sheriff said on a good day we are 20-30 minutes away so you should just take care of yourselves if necessary, just make sure they fall inside the house. Lesson learned.

  11. avatar farradycage says:

    I moved to the Ozarks a few years back. Meth is a serious problem here (and in most of fly-over country like the article states).

    Had a guy tweaked out of his mind try to break in twice in the same night. He was too far gone to figure out how. Took the sheriff 20 minutes to get out here both times. And honestly, I was impressed he got here that quick.

    1. avatar Rick says:

      Are you in the Springfield area?

  12. avatar dwb says:

    Sorry but the whole “I live in a big city, with low rates of crime, great neighbors, and fast police response times” is not really how a lot of people in cities actually live.

    It might be how people live in the burbs. It might be how the upper middle class live in some cities. It’s not how people in poorer areas live. Try dialing 911 in Baltimore. The wait time depends on the day. The response time depends on the neighborhood, and the complaint. A mere robbery theyll follow up later and file a report, maybe. Do you think people on the South side of Chicago get the same response time as the North end?

    Or worse: If the drug dealer down the street has a party and you file a complaint, you are now a target of retaliation. There is a lot of that.

    Self defense is precisely for people in the city, just not in your neighborhood. If you lived in a bad neighborhood without a 30 round mag, you’d feel as much or or hobbled as in rural Alabama.

    1. avatar Grindstone says:

      I felt safer living in the sticks than I did living in the city.

    2. avatar pod says:

      Same here in the Miami area. Try calling 911 in Morningside (our posh neighborhood) versus calling 911 in Little Haiti.

      Armed self-defense is even more paramount in an urban area.

  13. avatar ghost says:

    My condolences for your living in Austin.

  14. avatar Robert says:

    I live about a mile or so from the local PD and it’s still 15 min. Response time.

  15. avatar Don Davis says:

    Tyler: You hit a homer with the article!

  16. avatar Sledgecrowbar says:

    Growing up in NYC, and enjoying TTAG, I’m in a statistical minority, but at least I can comment on life there. We didn’t go to the doctor for the sniffles, either, but honestly it was just a matter of money, probably not all that much different than it is in the country. I know people think of Manhattan and tremendous salaries, but that’s a rather small percentage of residents. City people may all share a mindset about guns, well, most of them, but there are five boroughs and only one “the city”, as we called it when talking about where to go on a Saturday night if someone had enough money to spare for a bridge or tunnel toll, and we felt like finding a parking spot for 40 minutes. Don’t get me wrong, it was worth it.

    That mindset about guns, I’m growing more and more to believe, stems from simply not being exposed to them at all, regardless of political leaning. It’s so expensive and difficult to own a gun there that nobody holds the hobby of sport shooting unless they’re in the “tremendous salary” group, and now they can’t buy ammunition unless it goes through an FFL, which, by the way, charge $125 for firearm transfers.

    I don’t think city people expected the police to protect them from violence, I think we felt that we just won’t experience that violence because we live in an educated utopia of peaceful intellectuals (ha). Not that one false belief is better than the other. I’m old enough to know NYC at it’s worst, and shall-we-say ‘modest’ enough to know what the less-picturesque neighborhoods are like even today. But I could sit out on my stoop on a hot summer night without worrying about the intentions of passersby, while knowing that I couldn’t leave electronics visible in my car overnight, life really is the same there as anywhere else, the only thing that’s different is the scenery. I’ve traveled to the hills and found the same Nissan Stanzas and the same rap albums, just like I could show you a few pickup trucks playing country music right in NYC.

    I would never move back there, but I only live an hour away now. The idea that I’d have to pay an annual fee just for the right to keep my nightstand gun, much less my entire collection, strikes me as enough to make that decision. Also, my preferred Sig holds eight rounds, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to down-load a $35 magazine that functions perfectly.

  17. avatar TheOtherDavid says:

    The law enforcement leadership in Washington State, outside of the Everett/Seattle /Tacoma/Olympia megalopolis, has no problem with people tooling up, given the 30 minute waits (at best) for emergency response.

    Flyover country – you mean the places that that nice Mr. Bloomberg says don’t have any roads? However will MAIG and MDA bus in their paid “grassroots supporters” ??

  18. avatar Garrison Hall says:

    “Upon finding out that I wrote for TTAG, the woman in the other couple laid into me about magazine capacity restrictions. This was shortly after Newtown and the nice young woman was going on and on about how all those babies could have been saved if the Newtown shooter had only been armed with ten-round magazines.”

    We’ve all heard this and similar arguments They are some of the most bloody-minded excuses, I’ve ever heard. Their essential logic is that a spree-killer wouldn’t be able to kill as many if he had to reload. But even worse, it surrenders to the idea that a spree-killer can’t be stopped. They intentionally ignore the real possibility that said spree-killer might very well be kept from killing anyone by an armed sheepdog who’s willing to defend innocent children. And at Sandy Hook all it would have taken was just one—just one—armed person to have stopped the killing.

    To make matters worse, magazine limitations, are at best symbolic gestures which offer no real practical benefit. But what magazine limitations do offer is a measure of social power (i.e, status) derived from seeing their values made into law. In their hubris and condescension, just knowing the laws are there is far more satisfying to gun-controllers than the real possibility of actually allowing armed teachers to save lives.

    1. avatar Gearmoe says:

      Bringing up the it only takes “one” to save a person would be an excellent counter to the same use of the anti-firearmers use. Imagine an advertizement, the anti’s get sucked in thinking it is about getting rid of guns is worth it if it saves only one life. But,……in the end the scene is it only takes ONE to SAVE MANY. Thanks for reminding me.

    2. avatar Sian says:

      Cause mag limits and assault weapon bans made a huge difference at VA tech amirite?

      Oh that’s right, he used 10 rounders and exclusively pistols and still got the champion spot for deadliest shooting.

      Or Washington Navy yard, 11 killed with an 870 pump shotgun (6 or 7 round tube) and 1 with a berretta handgun taken off a murdered security officer.

      Yeah, mag limits don’t even slow down mass killers, never mind that they have zero effect on regular murderers and criminals. The only impact mag limits have is to reduce the ability of normal citizens to defend themselves.

  19. avatar Gearmoe says:

    To anyone riding alone, consider packing a piece. On a couple separate occasions while traveling solo in the very rural parts of AZ, I found myself in uncomfortable situations. I’m writing so it turned out okay. Truth be told, some instinct kept me out of trouble as one time I knew when to twist the right hand and another time when to control the testosterone and ignore a taunt. Got lucky IMHO, would never do it again without carrying.

  20. avatar Ing says:

    Not just the Korean shopkeepers in L.A. — people did the same thing in Ferguson only a few months ago.

  21. avatar John S. says:

    There’s no way she calls him boss,

    I almost called him out for lying, but then I realized spellcheck changed Hoss to Boss.

  22. avatar Charlie says:

    I would like to say that I know Hwy 7. I’ve been up and down it so many times that I ought to, but I don’t think that anyone really knows Hwy 7. Between Lake De Gray and the Hot Springs city limits it twists like a snake. One side is nearly straight up, and the other side is straight down. In the ’70s you could see the carcasses of pulp wood trucks on the down side every few miles (they had notoriously bad brakes, and weren’t worth retrieving). Maybe they’re still there.

    And yeah, we know that the fat hippies in NYC don’t give a shit about us. We don’t give a shit about them either. (cue Lynyrd Skynyrd) 😀

    1. avatar Garrison Hall says:

      Been on that road a few times myself. Hot Springs is a neat little town that likes bikers. It’s become a destination point for bikers—some good bars downtown near the racetrack and a killer pizza place right across from the track (can’t remember the name). Hwy 7’s a tricky sob in rain or fog (or worse when there’s both), even in a good handling car with great lights. On a bike . . . scheech. . . not me, dude.

    2. avatar Tom in Georgia says:

      I grew up near Springfield, Missouri, and spent 11 years in Arkansas, from 1982 to 1993. Went to high school and college both in Arkansas. Since my grandfather didn’t believe in moving vans and such, we shuttled from Missouri to Hot Springs Village about 100 times hauling stuff in our 24′ cattle trailer. Counting the trips to and from high school at Subiaco (about 30 miles west of Russellville) and college down at Henderson St. in Arkadelphia, its probably no exaggeration to say I’ve traversed Hwy 7 about 200, 250 times. Almost all of the trips in a car or truck, but I’ve ridden 2 motorcycles up and down it as well. Sometimes in fog so thick I couldn’t see the front end of my car, and once in a VW wabbit in nearly 2 feet of heavy snow. I wasn’t so much into guns back then, but nowadays considering how isolated it was, and still is, and the more recent troubles with meth….yeah, you should pack a piece. Just as a matter of prudence.

      As for me, I no longer live in Misery, but I still have my bike, still car-free. I do hope you can produce more motorcycle-related gun articles in the near future. Handguns aren’t too much hassle to pack but long guns definitely are. Good write-up, keep ’em coming.

      Tom

  23. avatar TX Gungal says:

    Wasn’t going to read the article since haven’t been interested in motorcycles since high school but glad I did. Have lived in both big cities and small towns, all in fly over country.
    Could wish life was like it was growing up, but it’s not. So a few years ago, joined people of the gun by purchasing my first revolver, then pistol, got a CHL, training, practice, joined ladies shooting league and never kid myself that I can sit back, relax and not continue to learn, drill and carry everyday, where legal and support the rights granted by 2nd. amendment. Enjoyed this article very much, it speaks to all of us.

  24. avatar Russ Bixby says:

    Than the Gods that none of Bloomberg’s cronies can write so well…

  25. avatar william johnson says:

    I was born in Arkansas and love riding HWY 7, however the fiancé gets car sick on FM2222. Also as the daughter of a former state trooper, while she may not be a gun person, she recognizes them for what they are tools and supports the right to have them.

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