Learning to shoot

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Deacon
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Learning to shoot

Post by Deacon » Fri Apr 05, 2013 6:57 pm

A couple months ago I got to take a few foreign people to a shooting range for the first time in their lives. I acted as rangemaster, gave a safety and handling lesson, described how a semiautomatic handgun operates, and everyone got to shoot at least one semi-auto handgun (everyone started with a .22 Sig Mosquito and worked up to at least a 9mm Glock), one semi-auto AR-15, and one bolt-action .308 Remington 700. Today one of them messaged me, expressing how much she enjoyed it. Not a native English speaker but clearly well versed.
Thank you for helping me shoot. It was really special for me.
I was brought up thinking all guns are dangerous and I should stay away from all of them. So, when we all went to the shootingranch (or whatever you call it...) I was quiet nerveous. Never planned to shoot a gun myself, but to stay way back... I remember you coming over, telling me it was my turn. My heartbeat was so loud, I was afraid you could hear it. But you stayed real calm and explaining everything, and despite of what I planned, I didn't freak out, and shoot the gun. Here in Holland no one believed me. [My husband] ok, he's not afraid of anything. But me... I chicken out of everything.. So thank you for helping me through and doing something I never believed I could do.
I was brought up mostly the opposite, especially since my father was a federal law enforcement officer since I was 6 years old. My sister and I were educated on what a gun was, how it worked, and how to handle it safely and make sure it was unloaded. We were told we could see and handle the guns any time we wanted, all we had to do was ask, and we had to wait till my father handed the gun to us. I'm sure it was very annoying for the first week or two, when we were constantly pestering him about it, but the novelty quickly wore off, and it became just something normal we didn't even really care about. Even when we lived in Guatemala and had fully automatic submachine guns, high energy grenades, and other items in the house (not under lock and key, either).

Philosophically, I believe that taking away the rights of good people does not do much to keep bad people from doing bad things. It seems like most who disagree don't actually disagree with that principle, but rather disagree about guns in particular, even when the numbers are very much against them. Often that's because we are all human, and all animals including humans tend to naturally be afraid and mistrustful of those things we don't know or understand. Those people for whom shooting sports and hunting have never been a part of their lives--indeed who have never shot or even held a gun before--feel like they are not giving up much, so they don't mind taking away rights from other people that they themselves are not using or interested in.

But in America the Bill of Rights in our Constitution is not about hunting or shooting for fun. When the Constitution was written we had just finished fighting a revolutionary war (with guns and cannons and swords, generally equal to those the British military were using against us!) to secure our freedom and independence, and we understood that it was possible that some day in the future we might have to take up arms again in defense of our homes and freedom. We hope we never have to, of course, but when you see people fighting for their freedom against their armed government in Syria, Lybia, and other places, it is a reminder that it's still possible, that nothing in this world is permanent and guaranteed, and that things can change--sometimes suddenly and without much warning, sometimes gradually over time.

So even though I enjoy the shooting sports and hunting, I also like to keep up my skills in the knowledge that the ability to defend yourself may one day be required not just against a couple of bad guys who mean to do you harm or a foreign invading force, but also against my own government.

If I can help a few other people learn to be comfortable with firearms, they will see it is not like in the movies or on TV. They can understand their operation and how difficult it can be to use them effectively and to realize they are neither good nor evil but tools in the hands of people who may have good or evil intentions just like any other fashioned or purpose-specific tool, it makes me feel a little bit better about the world, that hopefully generations to come will be a little better prepared to defend themselves and their freedoms if it becomes necessary and they believe it's worth the cost.
The follies which a man regrets the most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

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Rorschach
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Re: Learning to shoot

Post by Rorschach » Mon Apr 08, 2013 1:00 pm

I've shot.

Albeit only at clay pigeons and with a shotgun loaded with, one can only imagine, something not that dangerous from any huge distance. It was great fun. We did it during a stag do and although we were jokey and competitive and making smart-arse remarks when it came to someone else's turn, there was a frisson of nervousness knowing that you were handling a loaded firearm.

One of my friends went one better and actually went to a shooting range in the States. He said guns are surprisingly heavy. In every way imaginable.

In both cases, there is an element of shock being, quite literally, handed the power of life and death. I don't mean to dramatise it, but if you've grown up around guns and learning about their proper safety and useage, you probably won't get that. To our way of thinking, guns are a tool of the criminal more than a way of defending oneself against them. That's a mentality I've struggled to overcome when talking about guns here, but I like to think I'm beginning to understand where y'all are coming from.

That message, by the by, seems to be an admission of carnal desire for you. Why are you hanging with Dutch people? Through work?
To Let

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Post by Deacon » Sun Sep 22, 2013 4:27 am

So with the recent shooting at the naval base in Rhode Island, once again the outcry from those who believe that guns themselves are the problem is heard keening across Facebook and snarking across the news media (and news media adjacent, such as The Daily Show), some with genuine empathy while most are simply capitalizing to score political points.

The one thing that frustrates me so very much is that there is only one thing in common among all of these shootings, going back even to Columbine, and including these on military bases like the Ft. Hood shooting and this one in Newport. The one thing all of these shootings have in common is that they have been perpetrated in places where good people have been forcefully disarmed. In other words, the primary problem isn't that a crazy or evil person got ahold of a weapon of any sort but that no one is allowed to stop them. Bafflingly enough this includes military bases, where according to the New York Times in 1993 one of Clinton's first directives was for the Army to ban soldiers from carrying their personal firearms and to make it nearly impossible for base commanders to issue soldiers firearms to be carried while on base. All that are left are the relative handful of MP's (military police) happen to be on duty somewhere on the base, generally at the entrances to the base.

This shameful disarming of good people is almost always predicated in the notion that bad or crazy people will follow the rules, too. This leaves good people defenseless against criminals, crazies, and evil men, none of whom concern themselves with following the rules. And this somehow shocks and confuses the people who set it up where good people are forbidden from stopping bad people, regardless of the weapons they happen to wield.

Think about it rationally. Strip away the emotion and knee-jerk reactions. If guns really cause the problem, exacerbate the problem, or even just enable the problem, then places like police stations and firing ranges should be hotbeds of mass shootings, because nearly everyone there has a loaded gun on them. Yet they're not. Not ever. Why not? Because nearly everyone there has a loaded gun on them. Even if someone were crazy enough to try, they would be put down almost immediately by the good people there who are also armed.

Just something to think about the next time you realize that these events occur at schools and other places where good people are forbidden from stopping bad people just in case one of the good people might one day turn bad--in which case the rest of the good people could intervene if allowed. But freedom and personal responsibility aren't always politically expedient.

It's so frustrating how very backwards and dogmatically un-pragmatic so many people insist loudly on remaining.
The follies which a man regrets the most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

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Martin Blank
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Re: Learning to shoot

Post by Martin Blank » Sun Sep 22, 2013 10:38 pm

Having talked to some people in the military about it, most of them wouldn't carry firearms with them unless ordered to or at a post that requires it. The majority of them are not combat troops, and carrying even a pistol means carrying around another 3+ pounds and having something sticking out that might just get in the way. It's also another piece of gear that they have to maintain and is subject to inspection.

You can't take places like police stations and extrapolate them out. Cops are trained, screened, and watched for signs of issues. If one starts losing it, he can lose his gun or even his badge if it can't be brought back within acceptable limits. Shootings happen in court buildings, despite every court building I've been in having an armed law enforcement officer somewhere in line of sight.

The last 30 years have seen a lot of mass murders--67 to be exact, including the most recent, when you go by the FBI's definition that regards four or more dead, not including the shooter(s). Only a dozen of those were schools, and three more were churches. A few others may have been places where firearms were legally prohibited at the time--three post office shootings, for example. Some have taken place in locations where an employer has prohibited firearms, but that's a private decision, not one that can be blamed on the government. But in these cases where weapons were prohibited, there was almost always a connection between the shooter and the location, often that of an employment situation gone bad.

I absolutely do not support the NRA's vision of volunteer armed response citizens taking shifts at schools. That's a disaster waiting to happen. I would expect to see altercations where the volunteers move beyond their mandate and try to break up fights between students, something teachers are generally better trained, equipped, and experienced to handle. We've all seen what happens when a fight starts, too--the kids all circle in to watch. An armed volunteer wading through a jostling crowd has a higher change than normal of losing his gun, and he may not even realize it, depending on how it's carried. Even if this doesn't happen, a volunteer getting involved in a simple fistfight can quickly generate negative feelings with the staff, souring the entire relationship.

I do think that school teachers should have the option of carrying a concealed weapon, much like I think pilots should have the option to carry a firearm in the cockpit. Anyone carrying a weapon for the purposes of defending someone else in the line of duty, though, should be required to meet more stringent requirements than just a CCL/CHL. The Federal Flight Deck Officer certification requires requalification every two years.

Personally, I'd rather it be every six months. I'd also require regular lane time and accuracy requirements, probably including at least 100 rounds per month with accuracy requirements at 7 and 21 yards. (Cops have stricter qualification requirements, fire their guns in the line of duty more often, even if most never fire in a live situation in their careers, and still manage to hit only about a third of the time.) If you're going to take up the mantle of protecting my child with a deadly weapon, you'd better make damned sure you know how to use it.
If I show up at your door, chances are you did something to bring me there.

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Re: Learning to shoot

Post by Deacon » Sun Sep 22, 2013 11:05 pm

I'm not necessarily "blaming the government" in all cases, though certainly there's a substantial degree of culpability that rests in the hands of the people who push the politics of defenselessness. I agree that the NRA's armed volunteer idea is dumb. As you note, the vastly simpler and better solution is to simply err on the side of freedom. Stop the disastrous practice of turning good people with the proper licensing into criminals, forbidding them from carrying on school grounds. It's yet another poorly thought out law that fails to solve a problem that never existed and instead creates new ones. And as far as carrying on post, it may be true that some or even many people would pass, but that is not a good reason to criminalize any other choice.

You can absolutely point to police stations as a good example of a place where you are surrounded by people who are armed. You can do the same with shooting ranges. One may believe that all the reasons for the right to bear arms to be secured a position in the Bill of Rights second only to the freedom of speech, religion, and assembly, are obsolete or themselves invalid. One may also then give credence to the assertion that access to and possession of firearms are the problem and that we should universally criminalize both. But if any of that is true, then you must believe that police stations and shooting ranges must be subject to daily if not hourly mass shootings, with gun stores and skeet ranges right up there with them. After all, the root of all this evil is nearly omnipresent. But the reality is that they are not. At some point a rational adult has to admit that few are literally insane enough to try--and even those who might would be put down almost immediately--and that evil is facilitated when the inaction of good men is enforced by law.

Mass shootings don't only occur in places where firearms are forbidden, but they are the predominant target, with those that remain clearly being perpetrated in places where few if any others are armed.
The follies which a man regrets the most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

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