By Patrick Buchanan
I recently purchased my first gun and, if you’re scoring at home, shortly thereafter I bought a second one. My story is not unique. There were over 3.7 million firearm background checks done for firearm purchases in March alone. New gun owners often get accused of jumping on the bandwagon when the world gets a little scary, which is fair. Our side of the story doesn’t always get told however, and perpetuates the mystery that surrounds gun ownership for the uninitiated.
At the age of 55, I had yet to ever fire a single weapon. Even my BB and pellet gun experience could be counted in minutes on one hand, all before the age of 15.
No paintball, no “kid’s” .22 rifle. Nothing. I simply had no interest in using or owning a firearm, nor was it part of our family heritage. I never recall seeing or hearing a firearm discussion in our home, despite having parents that had served in the military.
I never had a problem with the 2nd Amendment. The sad truth is, I never gave it much thought at all. I knew others that had guns and didn’t have a problem with them. I did have enough sense to realize, even in my neophyte state, that banning legal gun ownership or even specific types of guns didn’t seem right.
I assumed the criminally inclined weren’t simply going to stop using certain weapons because they were illegal, so why keep them from tax-paying Americans? Still, there seemed to be a lot of anger on both sides of the equation I just didn’t understand.
Frankly I had never really been afraid for our family’s well-being enough to even consider owning a gun. I could put some of the blame on a wife who didn’t believe a firearm should even exist in the same house with six children, but the truth is I didn’t disagree with her. Every year or so a new story about how a toddler got a hold of a loaded gun and shot themselves or someone else would circulate, and any thoughts I had about owning one would dissipate.
Before you start flaming me in the comments, hear me out. I now understand what’s completely wrong with that statement, but let me get there first. At this point in my life I still had no measurable interest in gun ownership, however there was now a curiosity about the concept. The first piece of the puzzle was put down in late February when the company I work for put aside a few days for team building, which included time at a high-end indoor shooting range as one of the activities.
I couldn’t tell you much about what we shot that day. We had four handguns to try out and a couple of machine guns we could shoot. I used my very first shooting opportunity to focus only on the handguns, which were what I would have called at the time, “full size.”
As I considered this a mostly one-and-done experience, I didn’t put much more thought to it. Then just a week or so later came the pandemic. Call it coronavirus, COVID-19, or the Chinese virus…it doesn’t really matter other than it provided a profound jolt to my gun ownership sensibilities.
That same week, an extremely close friend surprised me with a random text. “Hey, thought you should know, I just got my LTC.” Of course, I had no idea what that was, but I learned that in Texas it’s a License To Carry, usually referred to as a CCW in most states. I thought the timing was a bit ironic, it’s not something that happens overnight, but OK.
Now my mind was churning. Though not particularly comfortable with the idea, I knew how to shoot a handgun. A great friend not only has a gun now, but a license to carry it as well, and there’s this little thing called COVID-19 that’s turning the world upside down.
Do I need to protect my toilet paper stash? Are we at risk of a home invasion if food supplies dwindle? How would I protect my home against these things? Despite all of the evidence, I was still in the thoughtful stage, with no real intent to buy. Then the wife walked in.
Had my bride of 33 years came into my home office and said that she thought she might be turning into a zombie, I would have found that to be more believable than what she actually said.
“Honey, do you think we should get a gun?”
I could write for hours on reasons why I would bet it all on red that she would never speak those words. Suffice to say that was the final piece of the puzzle and the picture was clear, I was about to own a handgun.
I returned to the gun store and range I had visited just a few short weeks prior. I’m not sure I would have felt comfortable anywhere else, and they were one of the few still open during the lockdown. I walked in with zero knowledge and only the expectation that I should leave with something.
I was nervous. No one wants to be labeled a noob. It’s one thing to suck at Fortnite, it’s quite another to be an idiot with a real handgun.
The vibrant gun store I had seen previously was basically gutted. Virtually everything on the walls and in the display cases was gone. Most of the ammo was gone as well.
I asked to see something that might do well for myself as well as my left-handed wife, who has smaller hands. I was shown the SIG SAUER P365 Tac Pac, which included three 12-round magazines and a holster.
They had some 9mm ammo, but I was told it wasn’t personal defense ammo. Really? They’re bullets right? A quick 30 Texas minutes later I left the store as a first-time gun owner.
I brought the gun home and the wife and I looked it over, trying to figure out what all the levers and things did. The guy at the gun store had shown me, but apparently I hadn’t seen enough John Wick movies to retain any of it.
I knew it wasn’t loaded however, and it would stay that way until I learned more. I’m kind of an all-in guy, so I pursued knowledge with vigor. Since golf and hockey had been eliminated from my nightly viewing repertoire, I watched YouTube videos to learn the basics.
More out of ignorance than desire, I applied for and went through the steps to obtain my own LTC. The knowledge was invaluable. Whether I actually carry or not remains to be seen.
The day I took my LTC proficiency test on the range was the first day I shot my new handgun. Fortunately, I had shown up a couple of hours early to practice. I quickly learned that this little P365 is not the full-sized gun I had learned on a few weeks earlier, and I have the scabs on my left hand to prove it. Apparently, I overcompensated by gripping right into the path of the slide with my non-shooting hand.
I made the necessary corrections and an hour later, still bleeding, I passed my LTC test and am now waiting for my LTC/CCW license to arrive in the mail.
Those two range sessions got me thinking. I dove back into YouTube with both eyeballs wanting to learn more. The next time I went to the range, I came back with better results, no scabs, and a new SIG P320 in my bag. The larger gun felt amazing and was super easy to shoot. Perhaps it will just be a range gun or a home defense weapon while the P365 will be an everyday carry gun. Who knows, those are all questions for the next chapter of gun ownership.
The most interesting thing to come out of all of this is perspective. I now understand the strong feelings regarding 2nd Amendment rights. I get why negligent discharges can actually be managed (prevented) by careful, conscientious gun owners. I can see why banning guns and restricting rights is not the solution.
I’m also thankful I have no small children at home any longer. I am still afraid of guns, but only in the same way I am afraid of chainsaws. When properly handled and managed, they are a good thing. When not, they are dangerous. For now, I’ll shoot more, train more, and learn more.
Perhaps next time we’ll talk about all those new acronyms you’ll need to learn like; EDC, CCW, IWB, OWB, FMJ, JHP, and WTF. Never mind that last one, it came up when I was shredding my hand. You probably know that one already.