As I waited for my lane pass down at the shooting range, three men approached the counter. They were dressed in what I like to call (but don’t) Guido casual: loose-fitting silk shirts adorned with ornate designs from the Velvet Elvis School of Fashion, draped over sweat pants that want to be trousers when they grow up. The men were short, stocky and swarthy, with faces that would never, ever be clean-shaven. They spoke to each other in Arabic. I felt an adrenalin rush unrelated to my forthcoming familiarization session with a Benelli SuperNova 12-gauge pump shotgun. The range is one of those open-to-the-public gun rental places; show some valid ID and off you go. Go on. Call me a racist. But I suddenly thought about the guy taking IDs at the Florida flight training school where the 911 terrorists practiced their terminal approach. I bet no one made a fuss there, then, either.
I took a deep breath. These are Americans just like me, I reassured myself, pushing aside the fact that the range rents guns to foreign nationals. (More specifically Brits, who “feel like they’re in gun Disneyland”). These men were exercising their constitutionally-protected right to master their (or someone else’s) firearm. They weren’t pushing or shoving; surely they qualified as a well-regulated militia. Lest we forget Laverne, my people were funny-speaking immigrants too.
Holy shit, is that an Smith & Wesson Model 500? Quick. Someone tell the Missouri she’s out-gunned. I noted the fact that they’d brought their own HSM .50 bullets. As Theodore Roosevelt might have said, bully for them.
Did I mention this all went down in Massachusetts? As we know, only criminals have guns in Massachusetts. Technically speaking, the ballistic boyz may have been criminals. The range doesn’t do a background check on firearm renters. Which is entirely besides the point, as we shall see.
I entered the stalls and set-up shop. As you may/should/now know, I’m writing a book called How to Defend Your Home With A Shotgun. I wanted to call it Shotguns for Dummies but the For Dummies people are pretty damn smart. Well, “persistent” when it comes to defending their franchise. (See: Getting Sued by For Dummies for Dummies). I’m trying to figure out the best way for someone who doesn’t know from shotguns to use a shotgun for home defense.
I bought the Benelli because the Comfort-Tech system system reduces felt recoil by a reported 40 percent. Recoil is the enemy of amateur shot-gunners. Once a traditional 12-gauge socks a newbie in the shoulder a few times, they develop a genuine respect for the power of their home defense firearm. And never fire the mo fo’ again as long as they live.
Hopefully. ‘Cause the next time they fire it, it will be in a panic situation and they won’t hit shit, as they haven’t practiced shooting their gun since the day it gave them supersonic noogies.
Which kinda defeats the point of the whole home defense shotgun thing—unless they happen to be shooting at the wrong person. Which would make their mistake a godsend. Of course, if they’re shooting at the “right” person, they’re gonna be so dead. Which defeats the whole purpose of the whole home defense shotgun thing.
I think they better think it out again. That’s my job; I’m addressing this issue in the book. Back to the Gallactica . . .
The Arabic speaking trio encamped a couple of stalls over on my left. In addition to S&W’s X-frame monster, they began firing a couple of subtle semis and a snub-nosed revolver. They did so without any conversation (either verbal or physical). They were disciplined and decisive, laying their weapons down carefully after discharging their contents. Their shooting rhythm was as steady as the tock of a grandfather clock, only a LOT louder. But then so was the SuperNova. Which eventually distracted me from my paranoia.
After sharing my Benelli’s baptism Mr. Silhouette, I glanced over to my right. Four white Anglo Saxon youths were firing a .45 in a desultory fashion. In other words, they were hangin’ out, schmoozin’, shooting guns. At one point, the muzzle of the Kimber swung in my direction.
A sheet of bulletproof glass separated us. The weapon was empty. But I had my second adrenal rush of the day. What if one of my stablemates, how do I put this delicately, fucked up? By the same token, what if someone—any someone—decided to take out a few people with his new-found or newly-honed shooting skills?
My man Dennis set me straight in a subsequent phone call. “Don’t be a putz,” he said (or non-Yiddish words to that effect). “Everyone’s armed. What idiot is going to shoot someone at a gun range?” Roger that. The gun instructor assured me there’s never been a violent incident at the range.
If we take this information at face value—and what Darwin Award candidate wouldn’t take a gun instructor’s word for something—maybe the people who say that keeping society safe means allowing everyone who wants a gun to have and to hold to have and to hold a gun from this day hence are right?
Let’s face it: there’s no way we can remove all the guns in our society, even if “we” wanted to. Not now. Not ever, now. So maybe the answer on this whole gun crime thing is to go the other way. Like Kennesaw, require every citizen of a legal age with a fair and balanced mental condition to own and carry a gun. Forget concealed carry and open carry. Let’s talk about forced carry.
If everyone was armed to the teeth, we’d be in Israel. I mean, a small percentage (a.k.a. a large number) of gun-toting citizens would kill themselves, either by accident or design. Some would commit gun crimes (that’s crimes with not on guns) and, perhaps, take out innocent bystanders. Yes, even children. Reality check: that happens now.
Would accidents and serious crime decrease if we really put our foot down on the pedal marked American gun culture? It’s impossible to know—unless you use Kennesaw as a guide, where the answer is yes.
Unless you’re a gun control advocate, in which case it’s no. Not-so-quick aside. Check out this hit and myth analysis of the Kennesaw law, from our friends at guninformation.org:
Philip J. Cook and Jens Ludwig explain [the myth that Kennesaw’s gun law decreased local crime], “The case of Kennesaw, Georgia, which adopted an ordinance in 1982 requiring every household to keep a gun, has been prominent. There have been several published analyses of the burglary trends in Kennesaw around the time of the ordinance, with contradictory results. In any event, this is not a good test of the deterrence hypothesis, since the ordinance was purely symbolic. Most homes in Kennesaw already had a gun before the ordinance, and it seems unlikely the ordinance had any effect on prevalence since there was no penalty specified in the law for refusal to comply.” (“Guns and Burglary”, Evaluating Gun Policy, pages 81-82)
The gun ownership rate of Kennesaw could have actually decreased because there has been a big increase in the population of Kennesaw since 1982, and it’s not certain how many of the new residents abide by the ordinance. Nationwide the gun ownership rate has decreased according to the General Social Survey. So if Kennesaw has followed nationwide trends the gun ownership rate in Kennesaw would have also declined.
Prevarication, thy name is advocacy. Or . . . get thee to a gunnery! Mind you, there’s irony on the other side of this anti-anti-gun control gun control. (See?) Forcing citizens to arm themselves against a tyrannical government would require a tyrannical government.
Setting aside the logistics of forced ballistics, I’m not saying Kennesaw’s gun laws prove that an armed society is a safer more polite society, as “contradictory” as that may seem. But they might. More to the point, it’s not a point of view you hear much these days.
The groups touting the right to bear arms are all about the individual right/freedom to own and carry firearms—rather than coming right out and saying that society need more guns. (Author John Lott is the exception that proves the rule—and does so with enough statistics to bludgeon an accountant into submission.) In that sense, the Second Amendmentistas remind me of the advocates of legalized abortion, who call themselves “pro-choice.” They can dress up your argument anyway you like, but they still can’t take it anywhere.
This issue of gun truthiness was best expressed by one of our commentators re: a YouTube video called “Let the Gun Nuts Exterminate Themselves.” Bob Buchman reckoned the anti-gun nut nut had an excellent point. I reckon Buchman has an even better one.
Let those who hate firearms so much establish their gun-free schools (which they have and they are attacked), work areas, stores, etc., and label them prominently. The only stipulation is they CANNOT hire armed security. Gun free is gun free. It wouldn’t bother me and it would keep the criminals away from the areas that my friends and I shop and live in.
I keep trying to think of a way that wouldn’t work. Especially as I left the range today. Watching the Arabic threesome pack their firearms and leave, an even stranger thought occurred to me: what if they’d been on Flight 93? They would have shot that terrorist bastard dead in a heartbeat. You know; if they’d had their guns.