“A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercise, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind…Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks.” -Thomas Jefferson
We began with a light warm-up round of skeet shooting. But this soon devolved into two pigeons being thrown, and then blown into a fine powder by a thundering volley of shotgun fire, followed by us laughing loudly, congratulating each other for our fine marksmanship and firing our guns into the air in approval. Soon after, we moved to the handguns. The others at the range stared in disbelief as we let out blood-curdling screams and fired off 10-round clips at life-size posters of Alex Rodriguez, Spencer Pratt and Nancy Pelosi, or took aim at the mapp gas canisters with the .500 and .44 Magnums.
At one point, I almost got shot myself; I had just finished mounting a poster of CNN’s Rick Sanchez on a tree when I heard a blood-curdling scream behind me. I whipped around just in time to duck as a friend of mine started running at the poster, foaming at the mouth and a glazed look in his eyes as he unloaded two ten round clips from the 9mm’s and then pulled the .44 Magnum out of his belt, squeezed off six shots with stunning precision, then pulled out the sawed-off Mossberg, pumped three slugs into what was left of the poster and finally collapsed on the ground, moaning loudly and clearly sexually-aroused. I was a bit shaken by this episode and I considered toning it down a little as I watched the other visitors at the range quickly pile into their cars and pull out their cell phones. But then someone mentioned that this sort of fun would all be over if the Democrats, and President Obama in particular, got their way. I shrugged the comment off outwardly, but inwardly a dark pall fell over me and my shooting took on a desperate, frenzied nature.
I had never considered that a Democrat-controlled White House, Congress and Senate might lead to serious curtailments of the 2nd Amendment, but when I got back into town I began to ask people if they felt this way about the incoming administration.
The Tackle Box on Park Avenue was my first stop. I sidled up to the counter and asked a man named Phil if I could ask him a few questions for a possible article. He fixed me with an amused look in his eyes, leaned back in his chair and said, “Well, let me ask you a couple of questions first. Do you own a gun?” I smiled back at him, showing lots of teeth, and said I did, making sure not to mention the loaded .357 in my belt. He said to proceed, so I asked him if there was any truth to these sadistic rumors I had been hearing. He told me that the government in general has been trying to limit our right to bear arms virtually since it became a right. “But,” he said, “Obama’s scaring the shit out of everybody.” I offered to attribute that particular quote to an anonymous source, but he would have none of it.
We talked some more and he told me that gun sales had gone through the roof since November 4th, but also explained that in poor economic times gun sales tend to go up anyway. But he also estimated that roughly half the people who had bought guns since the election had done so in order to get all the guns they could while they still had the right to do so. To emphasize this point, he pulled out an absolutely gorgeous Springfield Arms .45 semiautomatic and told me that a woman had called the day after the election asking for a price on the gun ($750) as well as 100 rounds pre-loaded into 10 clips.
I pondered the significance of increased gun sales in a conservative, pre-dominantly white county after the election of a black Democrat to the White House while I headed to the next shop. Grim implications indeed. When I arrived and informed the owner why I was there, he agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity. I shrugged, said why not, and began asking him about assault weapons such as the AK-47 and its less expensive cousin, the SKS. How do people justify using these guns? Aren’t assault weapons above and beyond what we need for home protection purposes? The glint in my eye and the manic lilt to my tone must have scared him as I rattled off the names of various assault rifles, my voice rising with each one, because he slowly backed away with his hand on the pistol in his hip holster. When he finally answered, he told me that the NRA fought to keep such guns legal so that anti-gun activists did not have any legal precedent to begin banning even more guns. Or, as several of the people I talked to outside the shop said, it isn’t about protecting people’s right to own assault weapons specifically, it’s about protecting the right to own guns in general. If anti-gun activists were to get their foot in the door regarding assault weapons, they surely would not stop there; gun lovers have no intention to find out just how far anti-gun activists will take their crusade.
I had set out to see whether there was any legitimacy to the dark rumors I had heard concerning the Obama administration and future gun control measures. I suppose I had always known that gun lovers would harbor some sort of concern about gun rights when a Democrat moves into the White House, but I wanted to gauge the paranoia level and compare it to my own. But the paranoia simply wasn’t there. What I discovered instead were people who were indignant, angered and exasperated by repeated attempts to limit a very basic right of theirs. In tough times like these, gun control is not high on the government’s list of priorities. But when things are better, the government now in place will have the will and the werewithal to enact harsh anti-gun legislature if they choose to.
When considering that gun sales in California have gone up roughly 50% since November, it’s hard not to think that gun owners have become gripped with unnecessary fear and paranoia at the remote possibility that their gun rights will be taken away. But these people are not paranoid; they simply understand that their vigilance in protecting their rights might have to become a little more focused now. It is the effort of these “paranoiacs” that spearhead the fight to preserve what has been a basic American right for more than 230 years. Free speech advocates must protect even the rights of pornographers if they want to preserve free speech, and gun lovers face the same situation in their fight. Are there some horribly paranoid gun freaks out there who are convinced that Obama’s out to get them and their guns as the first step in turning this country into a totalitarian police state? Sure, but those people are far and few between, even if they are the ones who get plastered all over the cable news networks as “gun advocates”. Besides, those uneducated inbreds don’t even realize that it’s the Dick Cheneys of the world, not the Obamas, that are most likely to turn this nation into a modern day 1984.I also noticed another interesting trend at the gun stores I visited. Without exception, every shop is completely out of ammo, aside from .22 caliber bullets (which may as well be pellets) and shotgun shells. Gun prices have also gone up by as much as 50%. (A Glock 9mm a few months ago went for around $500 but now start at $700) Given that I didn’t find any ramped up levels of panic or paranoia about Obama’s gun control intentions, I think it is entirely possible that some of the hysteria caused in the media recently may have been at the behest of gun and ammo companies. Are they looking to jack up the hysteria to boost their profit margins? I wouldn’t put it past them.
Although my own behavior has done little to dispel this notion, people with guns are not homicidal maniacs trying to preserve their right to act in such a manner. Every gun owner I spoke to readily acknowledged that assault weapons are severely pushing the boundaries of good taste, but they also fear that banning such guns would be the first step toward banning ALL guns. Many also readily accept that protecting the right to own guns means protecting the right to own guns that they personally feel should be illegal. But they will gladly fight to protect your right to do something, or own something, that they may not agree with because they fully expect you to do the same for them and their rights.