When I was in Texas, a couple of people asked me if I wanted to go to a shooting range and shoot some guns. I told them “for sure”. For a lot of reasons, I am not going to identify them in this blogpost. I will say I made lasting friends with them and really enjoyed getting to know them. It was very nice of them to take me to the range. It was even nicer for them to share their knowledge, expertise and experience with me.
To give you some background, I didn’t grow up with guns. My wife’s family all were raised knowing how to shoot. They are all excellent shots. My father in law was a master shot in all four shotgun gauges. More importantly, they were raised with an intense focus on gun safety. I find that families who own and respect firearms are very highly educated when it comes to gun safety.
I own two shotguns. I use them for hunting. They are in storage. I don’t need them in my apartment. If a bad person gets past the doorman, and onto my floor, and busts the lock on my door then it’s just going to be bad luck for me (or him if I get my hands on him : ).
That being said, I am an advocate for the Second Amendment. We have more killings and shootings in select neighborhoods of Chicago that it has become a war zone. I see no reason to prohibit people that live in those neighborhoods from deciding for themselves if they want to own a weapon to make them feel more secure. Most of the people in those neighborhoods are good people. Not everyone is a gang banger.
I also know that the 2nd Amendment wasn’t put in place because we were going to have Minutemen all over the place. It was put there so the populace could protect themselves from an over reaching government. The entire Constitution and Bill of Rights is there to protect individual liberty from government and the collective.
People in the military have a special kind of training that is very hard to duplicate. Your average person with no military background will not defend the country against invaders. But, they could protect themselves from their own government if it came to that.
I will tell you after shooting them, there is really no way possible to pull a “Rambo” like move. When I read citations of Medal of Honor recipients I have a brand new appreciation for what they did.
I also had never shot a machine gun or any high powered weapon before. I wanted to learn about it. I had shot .38 pistols at USAFA-and I did poorly.
Here is an Instagram of some of the things we shot. If I were going to get a home defense weapon, that tan 12 gauge shotgun would be tops on my list. It takes at least 6 rounds, and is amazingly accurate and devastating.
The two people that took me to the range were highly experienced with weapons of all kinds. Both had served in the military. One had been a sniper. Both had seen very intense action on the battlefield. As a matter of fact, one of the weapons we used had the sight and trigger that one of them actually used.
Before we did anything, they explained the medical kit to me in case anything happened. Then we went over the rules of the range. Barrels always pointed down range and safety was always first. Here is a photo of me shooting a small machine gun.
Shooting this kind of weapon was a totally unexpected experience for me. First, I was surprised at the lack of recoil. The other thing I was surprised at was the amount of pressure it took to pull the trigger. The triggers on these weapons were not nearly as light as my shotguns. It took an active action to pull. Most people think triggers work like plastic dime store machine guns and that is simply not the case.
Machine guns are also not super accurate. They are designed to be more defensive, than offensive weapons. They lay down a field of fire and stop the enemy.
In the case of the one we shot (not pictured), there was an unbelievable laser sight on it. It was very very expensive. It made the gun a lot easier to line up and shoot. The other thing to remember is I had 2 experts instructing and watching me at all times. I think you would have to shoot hundreds and hundreds of rounds to be comfortable with it and really do some damage.
Conventional wisdom is that a person might be able to go to a gun store and pick up an AR-15. They think it is plug and play, but it’s a lot more difficult than that. It’s also unrealistic to think someone could shoot from the hip like they do in Hollywood and actually hit anything. 99.9% of what Hollywood shows with firearms is inaccurate. Actors don’t hold them, fire them or do much right with them.
Here is the target I shot at prior to using the shotgun.
A photo posted by Jeff Carter (@pointsnfigures) on
After shooting, what do I think about them? Amazing engineering. Really impressive. I had a lot of fun and I barely have scratched the surface. One small arms pistol we shot had a very silent design, and the ammunition that it used was also designed to be silent. Really great to shoot small things when you don’t want to be discovered-but it didn’t have enough stopping power to really stop an attacker.
What do I think about people owning them? I’d say it depends. I prefer to let people make up their own mind about what sort of weapon they want to own. If they want the responsibility of that weapon, let them be free to choose. But, I think it’s really important to let people know that you can’t purchase a gun without accepting the responsibility of knowing about it. Knowing a lot about the weapon not only makes you a better shooter, but it will turn you into a fanatic about safety.
I wouldn’t ban high performance weapons like AR-15’s from individual ownership. Not everyone lives in a city with a doorman like I do. If I was living on a ranch, or a farm, I’d feel very comfortable about having a very high powered weapon to defend myself in case something crazy happened. By the time I called 911, and law enforcement showed up, all the bad stuff you could imagine happening would have happened.
If I was in a suburb, or an individual home inside a city I’d still let people be free to choose whatever they wanted to own.
Should there be background checks and registration? I don’t like registration. Why should government know what I have? In the case of a total breakdown of society, I might have to use it against them and I don’t want them to know what I have. If you don’t think society can’t break down, check out the Middle East. Unrest can happen anywhere although the probability of it happening in the US is pretty remote. But, you never know.
Background checks depend too. If they are all knowing and universal I am against them. What is a background check going to accomplish? How long will it take? What are they looking for? I don’t think anyone that has had any mental health problems should own a gun. If that’s what they are looking for I am cool with it. But, when government does things it never does just a little. I know women that have gone to a doctor and had to answer questions about home life. Does your husband hit you? Does the government need to know things like that?
When it comes to criminals and guns, they are going to find all kinds of ways to get them. Why is this so hard to understand? It’s the same with drugs. Drug users are going to find ways to get them. The more they are regulated, the more underground they are and the harder it will be to find. Heck, in Chicago Democrats just made it illegal to buy a pack of smokes if you are under 21. I remember when people came home from Vietnam and it was “Old enough to fight, old enough to drink/vote”.
I will probably never own a machine gun. However, I will eventually buy more guns for different things if I live in a different place. I am sure fortunate I got to experience shooting one. I would never limit other law abiding and mentally stable people from owning one if they chose to. I was more fortunate to meet the people I did and even more fortunate that they were highly experienced in the use of those kinds of firearms.