I’ve had an interest in firearms from a fairly early age. This interest came about despite (or maybe because of) my parents’ absolute embargo of “war toys”. Looking back as an adult, I can understand and even respect their dislike. My father was in the Air Force, and at that time, had just returned from a tour in Thailand, supporting the war in Vietnam. I know he saw some pretty terrible things that stick with him to this day.
Despite that, I was a kid, and a boy at that. I wasn’t allowed toy guns, GI Joes (and then, they were the COOL ones, a foot tall, with tons of accessories), violent movies, tv shows, or books, but I had Legos, and I was pretty creative at building toy guns from them. All my friends had toy guns, and we ran the neighborhood, playing cops and robbers, “war”, cowboys and indians, you name it. We were bloodthirsty little hooligans. If I was playing on my own, any appropriately shaped stick worked as a pistol, a rifle, sword, spear, you name it. All this to say that the allure of the forbidden certainly helped to reinforce an interest in guns.
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As I got older, and my parents spent less time worrying about my reading material, I started reading about history, and consequently, more about firearms.
Fast forward a bit, and my family moved overseas, first to Germany, then to England. Other than reading and watching movies, I didn’t see a gun for years.
I was a senior in high school when I first fired a real gun, thanks to my friend Paul, who took me skeet shooting at the base’s Rod and Gun Club. It was a cold winter’s day, and we shot a round of skeet, me using a rental shotgun that left a satisfying bruise on the shoulder, and Paul using the skeet gun his family had brought with them from the States. Paul’s family was very different from mine, obviously – he had reloading equipment, they hunted, and while he liked guns, they were familiar tools, not a source of forbidden fascination.
Not too long after this, I headed out on my own, moving back to the States. It was a struggle to keep a roof over my head. It still never occurred to me that I could legally own a firearm at that point – first of all, I saw it as a terrible responsibility I wasn’t ready for, and secondly, buying food was a higher priority.
As time went on, things improved, and my friend GunNutmegger invited me to go shooting with him. Over the next year or so, we went to the range on a fairly regular basis, me using his rifles, and paying for my own ammunition and range time.
I eventually started to feel a little guilty about using his firearms, and started looking around. I found a good deal on a used Marlin 75C .22LR rifle, paid the money, and impatiently waited the 15 days Connecticut required to pick up my new prize. GNM and I drove from the store straight to the range, and I was completely hooked. It didn’t take long for me to decide that the .22LR wasn’t enough, and a .223 rifle soon followed. Then came the Marlin Camp 9, and on, and on. That was ten years ago.
In 2008, between the way the political winds were blowing, and my own impatience with the waiting period, I finally got around to getting my Concealed Carry Permit. This was, of course, both a blessing and a curse. Now I could buy pistols and revolvers, as well as long guns… No waiting period also meant that impulse buys became a reality….
I’m lucky – my wife supports me – I’ve called her from the store, and her only comment has been to ask what gun I was buying.
My parents still don’t like it. My father has seen the evil that guns can be used for. My mother is pretty ambivalent about them, and my sister… not really sure, but she doesn’t like them.
My personal attitude is that guns are a tool, with no morality one way or another. The good guys need to have them, because the bad guys always will. I’ve never fired a shot at anything but paper, and I pray that I get through my life that way. I keep guns for defense, and also for recreation. I practice regularly and I still love using them and learning more about my chosen interest.