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    Posted December 20, 2012 by
    Orlando, Florida
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Gun control debate: Background checks

    This is my AR-15. It has never hurt a soul and I hope it never has to.

    I think the social stereotype of the "typical gun owner" had a lot to do with my early aversion to firearms. The media likes to portray guns as mysterious objects; coveted by criminals and feared by the law abiding. To have one means that you are either a police officer or are slightly off your rocker, as gun owning citizens are often derided as "gun nuts", hillbillies, and tin foil hat wearers.

    "Well to hell with that!," I said one day. "Why shouldn't I have one? Why shouldn't I have the ability to protect myself and my home?"

    So at the age of 26 I went to a gun store for the first time. I was nervous; I had been conditioned to think that it was wrong to want a gun. It wasn't until after I set out to actually learn about firearms and gun culture through experience that I realized how mislead I was by all of the fear mongering and misinformation. In reality, most gun owners are polite, every day people, who value the ability to protect themselves and those that they care for. The "typical gun owner" at your local range is going to reflect that of your local area's demographic. I also found that once I started talking to people about firearms I was actually surprised at how many people that I already knew who owned one.

    My first gun was a .357 revolver. It was small, and reliable but was also heavy, kicked really hard, and hurt my hand to shoot it often. So I bought a 9mm for home defense and the range. While the 9mm is less powerful, it is also much lighter, has less recoil and is easy and cheap to shoot.

    Then I bought an AR-15 which CNN and people with an agenda like to refer to an "assault weapon." For the uninformed, AR doesn't stand for what you think it does. It stands for Armalite Rifle, named after the company that designed it. I chose the AR-15 because it was highly customizable and wanted to shoot farther targets than I could with my pistols. I liked that the .223 was a relatively small, affordable, and accurate rifle cartridge with low recoil. Despite my recreational reasons for purchasing one I believe that semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 play a very critical defensive role even if the likelihood of needing one in that role is low. Yes you can use one for general home defense, but in my opinion they are best suited to defense during catastrophes such as protection from looting after a hurricane or during a riot. More important however, is the role that these firearms play in the preservation of our democracy. The second amendment guarantees the people the right to keep and bear arms as "necessary to the security of a free state." Firearms are a deterrent against tyranny. They are the means to overthrow a dictator (read: Syria, Libya.) and in the modern world deposing a dictatorship requires people with rifles that fire really fast bullets (not muskets.)

    I can hear some of you saying, "Ha! He is a tinfoil hat wearer after all! The US could never become a dictatorship." And I would agree. That probably will never happen here as long as citizens have the means of holding their government in check. Take that away, take away the last line of defense against tyranny, and our democracy could very possibly fall apart; not overnight, but eventually and without the means to do a damn thing about it.
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