On a snowy Christmas morning, in what feels like a lifetime ago, Santa had left my present leaning up against our families fake, tinsel and star crowned tree: my first rifle; I was 10 years old. I consider myself an open minded, liberal leaning American. In today’s political climate however, my belief that allows me to accept this gift as rational, within the context of our lives in the early 1980’s, paints me a cultural lunatic. I can understand the concern of parents who’ve lived outside of our then rural life, nevertheless, black and white idealism, in my opinion, precludes one being an authentic idealist.
I am not one of these 2nd Amendment absolutists. In fact, I am opposed to the sale of weapons of war throughout society. The only practical use for a assault weapon combined with armor piercing ammunition and high volume magazines is that of warfare between similarly armed men on the battlefield. I even seriously question the use of these weapons by most law enforcement agencies in but the most serious of conditions.
That photo captured in Ferguson Missouri, showing an unarmed protester directly down the barrel of a turret mounted machine gun left a powerful impression on me as a combat veteran. It was symbolic and profound. The destruction of our 1st Amendment through an overly broad interpretation of our 2nd. Those who are unwilling or ignorant of the irony should take stock in the lessons of history where free speech and the right to protest the government have been squelched.
My first gun was a Ruger model 77, .22 long rifle. My family owned several guns, from shotguns to pistols. However, we did not own any assault weapons. We lived the majority of our life in an extremely remote region of Alaska where hunting and fishing were beyond sport and closer to subsistence. At the age of 8 I was wearing a .44 magnum while out of the home, in the woods, hiking, fishing or camping, as protection from aggressive bears. I was responsible and well schooled in firearm safety. I still vividly recall my grandfather shooting an apple with my little .22 perched upon a signpost. The apple basically exploded, followed by his words, “that could be someones head. Even this little .22 needs to be always respected.” Not every 10 year old will absorb such wisdom, I know. I suspect the same amount of adults suffer from this same flaw? If my parents suspected or had reason to believe this of me, I would have never been allowed the responsibility.
I said all that to say this: the more ubiquitous these weapons become, the more paranoid our society seems to become? That America will be invaded by some ragtag army of terrorists, or that our government will swing tyrannical, both grow from that same seed of paranoia. We have a government to protect us from that so-called army. And if the government goes all martial law, assault weapons owners will find themselves in one of two unfortunate camps: 1. a part of that twisted tyrannical government without realizing it, or 2. so fucking scared and impotent up against a machine so much heavily armed and sophisticated, they’ll be unable to fight back, let alone defend themselves.
Machine guns can be quite fun to shoot, as long as the target cannot return fire. So my compromise is this: armories and target ranges could provide security and safety over these weapons when not in use. Americans could still go hog wild at the range, -fuck, let ’em have some RP-G’s, Mortars and LAW’s to fire off at these facilities even- but that’s where these arms will stay, locked up until our military is being overrun at the Mexican border, or President Bush IV declares martial law. You want a few 12 gauges, a 30.06, some handguns, no problem. You want a weapon of war? Sign up and head downrange.