Thursday, June 28, 2012

Gunnery Overkill

I’m not an anti-gun guy.  I’m an anti-stupidity guy.

With some refresher work, the geezer probably could hold his own as a shooter, at least among other fully mature adults.  In the distant past, the U.S. Army declared me qualified with standard infantry rifles, carbine “grease guns,” and .45-caliber pistols.  Once upon a time, I competed (didn’t win) in a skeet tourney using 12 different Browning shotgun models at the company’s testing range near Morgan, Utah.

Much earlier, my air rifle shots knocked icicles off the eaves of numerous northern Wisconsin roofs.  Many other somewhat strange targets came into my sights.  A bit later, I learned how to fire the family shotgun and deer rifle.

Fortunately, no one has been killed or seriously hurt by my gun play.  The only injury was a purplish welt caused by a well-aimed BB shot to the buttocks of one of my childhood pals.  He shot first, I claimed at the time.  His father abruptly stopped the mini-war between us, and confiscated our weapons for a while as punishment for stupidity.

From my experience with guns and acquaintances with many people who own and use them, I’ve reached three conclusions:

1.  Responsible use of standard rifles and shotguns during hunting seasons not only provides enjoyable outdoor recreation but is useful to society.  Because we have removed most large predators from the environment and it probably never will be practical to restore them completely, hunting is necessary to maintain healthy wildlife populations, and hunting with firearms is the best way to do that.

2.  Some people in some places feel a compelling need to own a handgun to protect their homes or themselves from real or imagined serious threats, and they should be allowed to do so after careful screening and licensing. Screening should be rigorous. Needs should be firmly established before any carries outside the home are permitted.

3.  AR 15 assault rifles, .50-caliber guns effective at a thousand yards, and other high-powered weapons intended for military use are absolutely unnecessary in the hands of civilians and should be banned.  That’s banned as in everywhere.  Gun collectors shouldn’t have them.  Hobbyists shouldn’t have them.  Target shooters shouldn’t have them.  No civilians should be allowed to possess them.

Smith and Wesson is a NRA favorite
Yikes!  Parts of my conclusions sound like stricter gun control, and we can’t have any of that in the U.S., according to the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun organizations.  Students of American history know we always  had gun controls in this country.

Members of the first militias in the 1700s were required by their leaders to own and use only certain types of muskets.  Those western sheriffs depicted in movies demanding that cowboys surrender their guns when they came to town really did that.  Similar requirements were in effect in other places to promote law and order. At one time, the National Rifle Association was among the leading advocates of gun controls.  Many controls were installed by major cities in the 1960s following riots and protests. The intent was to get weapons out of the hands of the Black Panthers and other militant groups

Gun control is nothing new in the U.S. Decontrol is. Decontrol was encouraged by Supreme Court rulings in 2008 and 2010 (both by 5-4 votes) that liberally interpreted the constitutional provision allowing citizens to keep and bear arms so the country would have “a well-regulated militia.”  The National Guard might be considered today’s equivalent of our 18th century militias. The Guard keeps its weapons controlled by locking them up when they are not needed for training or active duty purposes.  The Guard is well-regulated, and civilian help in that area seems unnecessary.

Despite flying in the face of common sense, deregulation is sweeping the land.  Chicago’s ordinance controlling handguns was repealed.  Several states now permit “open carries,” taking us back to Wild West days.  Macho Men and Wonder Women once again are seen packing pistols in public.  At least we know who these gunnies are.  The latest compilation shows 319,900 men and women (one in 22 adults) in Michigan have permits to carry concealed weapons, and the number is growing weekly. That’s scary.

Who has those permits to secretly pack heat?  They are people at least 21 years of age who are not known to have mental illnesses and do not have serious criminal histories.  They must complete a certified pistol course before applying for a permit from a county concealed-weapon licensing board.  If approved, they pay a $105 fee.  The permit is good for four years, and then may be renewed.

The pistol courses vary by state.  In Wisconsin, a concealed-carry safety course takes four hours and can cost as little as $40.  Retired law enforcement officers can get permits without the training in some states, including Michigan.

Michigan’s law lists “gun free zones” where permitted carriers are not allowed to bring their weapons.  That seems reasonable and sensible.

What is unreasonable is a measure being considered by the Michigan Legislature to drop all the gun-free area provisions.  People with permits would be allowed to carry their weapons in churches, bars, schools, sports arenas, and hospitals. This goes way too far.  The legislation deserves a bipartisan speedy death. While it is being killed, the legislature should add public libraries to the gun-free list.

Would sensible people condone allowing guns into bars where liquid courage is known to frequently provoke shouting, shoving, and punching over even minor disagreements? This is ridiculous. Wyatt Earp would be aghast.

There is no test of intelligence in Michigan’s concealed weapons licensing process. Some such control seems justified. A recent Detroit Free Press story indicates that at least one concealed carrier wasn’t too bright.

A 45-year-old man working in a Detroit suburb on an air conditioning installation was carrying a .40-caliber Glock pistol in his pants pocket.  He moved the pistol.  It went off.  The man shot himself in the penis.

One reader commented, “At least he won’t be producing any offspring who might want to carry a concealed weapon.”  


Sightings said...

As Jack Reacher, the hero of the Lee Childs thrillers, says: "For a population obsessed with guns, civilian marksmanship is pretty appalling."

I think your gun regulations make perfect sense. Let's put you in charge.

schmidleysscribblins, said...

You sound like my husband David. He shot well for the Army but never picked up a gun after he left it in 1953. Southern boys generlly learned how to shoot as children, but I always hated it when I saw some kid shoot at birds. Terrible practice. Dianne

Kay said...

My husband was in the Air Force and he says he really couldn't shoot the side of the barn. I'm afraid I AM for stricter gun control laws. In fact, I'm all for banning them. But that's just me.

joared said...

I totally agree with your gun laws. As a young person I was introduced to guns and learned to use a 22, 10 gauge shotgun and shot 1 time an army 45 in possession of a govt. official legally allowed to carry. Those first two type guns I was taught to use with care and was well-informed about safety issues. Also, I had to be able to not only care for them but to clean them properly. There was lots of SAFE target practice, plus no random shooting in the air and any critter dispensing was necessary and for good cause -- not just sport.

I have a great deal of respect for guns and a whole lot less for a bunch of nuts who are now being allowed to carry them. I've long been disgusted and concerned with some State's laws, many of the NRA positions, and the latest is this Michigan plan.

JHawk23 said...

Good points; people of reason need to stand up and be counted, and find some politicians who will do so also, on this issue. Thansk for the inspiration to revisit this issue.

Wayne Nicholls said...

Thanks for the new blog offering; I enjoyed it as always. Don't totally agree with all the details in your gun control discussion, but you aren't wanting to "take our guns away" anyway.

In my advancing maturity I took up trap shooting and served as president of the local gun club which is primarily a trap club and enjoyed it all very much and wish I'd got into it at a younger age when I probably couldn't afford it! One daughter and a son are much better than I am or ever will be--a great sport.

I have a good friend in Fairbanks, retired from the AK DNR, who with his wife is a very active pistol competitor. She holds the distinction of having shot one of the few perfect scores with a .45. Their ownership needs would not be completely possible with some of your restrictions. Neither of them "pack heat" partly I suppose because their pistols are too delicate and valuable to be dragging them around on their hips or on their shoulders.

Big John said...

Here in the UK no one is allowed to own a firearm apart from licensed shotguns (non-automatic) for farmers and the like.

Legislation increased in recent years due to the 'knee-jerk' reaction by our government after a number of mass killings.

Trouble is ... no one told the 'gangstas' !