- Posted January 9, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Gun control debate: Background checks
Purchasing a gun after Sandy Hook
I'm 51 years old and at one time carried the title of Marine (1st Gulf war). I live in California, in a good neighborhood and do not put myself in situations that would require the use of a gun.
I left the Corps in 1993 and no time since was remotely interested in buying a gun. Friends tried to get me to a range, declined but after ten years went once and confirmed I still had the skills. Ten more years, following Sandy Hook, walked in to my local gun store and bought a handgun. The process included paying for and taking a 30 question gun safety test. Without studying, I got 29 out of 30 correct. My guess is military weapons safety training lurked somewhere in the brain. Received my safety card, purchased the gun and proceeded to fill out paperwork for the required background check. The government requires payment for that as well. Walked out of the store and waited the mandatory ten days.
Ten days to justify what propelled me to this decision. I told the wife, she was not happy with the decision. My wife is the most peaceful person I know, mother of our twins and we spoke at length. I told her if she still did not want a gun in the house, I would cancel the purchase. I did say however, if no gun, then we must live with our decision and develop an alternate plan should an intruder present in our home or if we encounter a criminal. With no pressure, on day five she said yes knowing one condition was she learn how to use it. That moment the enormous burden of responsibility started to crush my brain. Responsibility to train, to properly secure, to know laws, understand with clarity when to defend or walk away...and addition to all that, could be subjected to a lawsuit should I ever need to use it. The low probability, that I, or my wife could take a life, sunk into deep into my conscience and asked myself again, is this worth it? The right to bear arms is guaranteed, the weight of responsibility is burden by choice.
I reviewed some issues and thought about large magazines and why they exist, one word...ambush. Contact right...all weapons turn towards incoming fire and every one fires in that direction; basic rule of combat, fire and maneuver. It is beyond me as to why any civilian needs a thirty round magazine. Deer, ducks or doves have no opposable thumbs, nor does your average criminal have the discipline or skill set to coordinate an effective ambush. As for a ban on assault rifles, a black plastic clad, single shot rifle per trigger cycle is not an "assault" weapon. Legislators saying it is, undermines all credibility to act on this issue.
As the waiting period continued, I listened to media talking heads, statistics citing positions, legislators relaying action needed, actors call for change and the medical community relaying we have folks needing mental health care. All convinced their position will ease suffering. None offered to make my home secure, improve safety of my neighborhood, keep me safe at work or protect my family in public. In the end, it's the hope that somehow they can will a positive outcome should my path cross someone with the intent to harm me or ones I'm responsible for.
In the end, we must accept bad or mentally ill people exist and no one knows the mind of someone who justifies harm to another. And one must accept the limits police selling the statement "to serve and protect" yet cannot shrink time required to make that statement a reality.
I support licensing weapons. It's ridiculous to expect one to purchase an object which employed, can take a life without getting training in the appropriate lawful use of said object. We require a license to drive an automobile, the same should be applied to gun ownership. 16 hours of instruction to demonstrate effective use of a weapon along with an understanding of all laws governing its use should be the minimum. A gun owner must demonstrates to legislators, law enforcement, and judicial system an acceptance of responsibility to own a weapon.
On final note, in California...police and retired officers, along with lawyers and judges (after getting the appropriate certifications) are allowed to carry firearms in public. The reason, they may encounter criminals they put in jail and need to defend themselves. For the common citizen we have the right to protect ourselves in our homes, but are denied equal protection afforded our public servants.