Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Why a 1911?

1911: "Fear no man, no matter his size, for I am the equalizer." Author Unknown

My carry gun will be the one pictured on top of the New Gunner Journal.  An ATI FX45 GI 1911.  What exactly does that mean?  It means I will carry a gun that has been around for 102 years and still goes "click BANG" when you want it to.  Every time.

Chambered in 45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol), this gun has been the choice of the U.S. Military and for countries world wide since its inception in 1911.  John Moses Browning's design of simple elegance has remained, except for very small "adjustments" in 1924, the very same design that was first delivered in 1911.  How reliable is it?  It wasn't until the mid-80's, seventy plus years after its introduction, that U.S. Armed Forces switched to another pistol (Beretta 92F and then the M9) as its standard issue weapon.  But to this day, Marine Corps Special Operations, F.B.I. Hostage Rescue Team and 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment—Delta (Delta Force) still use the 1911 as their gun of choice.

1911: "For when you come to grips with the fact that the game of life is single elimination." Author Unknown

So why did I choose the 1911?  First let me say, at the time, I had no idea what kind of gun I would carry.  This changed when my Son took me shooting at our local indoor range. As I was reloading my little Walther P22Q, my head down in concentration, an unexpected and tremendous "BOOM" went off in front of me.  My head raked upwards, there was a solid "thump" in my chest and with my eyes wide as dinner plates I furtively looked to see who had set off the grenade.  But the only view I had was of my Sons Glock 30.  He turned and smiled at me, nearly laughing at the look on my stunned face and asked if I wanted to shoot.

Oh Hell Yeah!

My first impression was that the gun was much lighter than I expected (polymer based) and the grip - with 10 rounds - was uncomfortably fat, even for my large hands.  I fell in love though, with the feel of the 45 caliber round as it "pushed" its way out of the gun and knew immediately that this caliber would be the one that I carried.  Now it was time to figure out which gun I might buy to assuage my urges.

"Rifles are for fighting your way back to your 1911." Author Unknown  
My Son and I discussed what I might be looking for and I told him I thought I would prefer the heft and weight of a steel framed 45, as I didn't care for the light feel of the Glock and I thought a heavier gun would allow me to be a little quicker re-acquiring my target after firing.  He nodded and without hesitation he told me to check out the 1911's.  Of course he had to tell me what it was, some of the history and why I might like it, including the fact it was a single stack mag (8+1) with thinner grips.

I already knew I wanted a gun with single action - I like "click bang" - and not the double action of some guns including revolvers (I tried my Sons .357 Magnum and didn't like the feel, balance or trigger, though it was a lot of fun to shoot.)  My own Walther P22Q was double action / single action and I knew just from shooting the Walther that I liked the feel and break of the single action trigger.

As soon as I picked up a 1911 at my LGS (Article ll in Lombard, Illinois), held it in my hands, felt its heft and amazing balance, I knew this was the gun for me.  Now it was time to figure out which one to buy.

I couldn't afford the higher end guns like Kimber, Colt or Smith and Wesson, so I did my homework and found many great reviews of 1911's made in the Philippines (Shooters Arms Manufacturing and Armscor) and sold under the brand names of ATI and Rock Island Armory.  A mid to high range 1911 will set you back $850 to $1400, with an Ed Brown selling above $2500, but these lesser known sellers were in the $400 to $500 range.  Right up my alley.

I decided on my ATI FX 45 GI (Commander length barrel of 4.25") not only for its looks and balance and feel, but also for its fit and finish.  Those reviews that I read at places like the 1911 Forum were correct - this was a very nice gun, for any amount of money.  The slide to frame fit is as tight as 1911's I've seen in the $1200 range.

"As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for I carry the baddest pistol John Moses Browning could design. "

After talking with the salesman, making my purchase and waiting 72 hours for pickup (supposed "cool down" time in the State of Illinois) I brought it home.  As with the Walther P22Q, I worked with the gun every day.  Handling it, getting a good feel for it and generally making it my best and most trusted friend.  I learned to break it down, clean and reassemble (so easy, thanks Mr. Browning!) and read everything I could get my hands on about the 1911.  The history of the gun is amazing.

There was a bad day some-where's in there when I realized that the correct way to carry a 1911 was in "condition one", with the gun locked, cocked and ready to rock!  This freaked me out, the old fear through ignorance feeling welling up in me.  Carry a gun with one in the pipe and the gun cocked?  Jesus!  Wasn't that just asking for an accident?

In a word, No.  As it turns out, the 1911, carried in "Condition One" is one of the safest guns you can handle, no matter how counter intuitive that sounds.  Why?  Unlike most pistols, the 1911 has three safeties.  That's right, three.

 The first safety is the "grip" safety.  Seen at left in this photo, this 1911 is in Condition One, the hammer is cocked and the thumb safety (in front of the hammer) is on (in the up position).  The Grip Safety is under the hammer and is the bottom part of the "Beaver Tail" - the backwards c-shaped extension under the hammer and lays along the back strap.

You must grip the gun with that part of your palm under your thumb pressing in on the grip safety for it to be deactivated - As seen in the second photo.

The second safety is the aforementioned Thumb Safety.  The small, flat, horizontal piece of metal in front of the hammer. Flipped up, safety on, flipped down, safety off.

So, in effect, the gun cannot fire if the grip safety is deactivated but the thumb safety is on.  The gun cannot fire if the thumb safety is off, but the grip safety is not "squeezed."  So what is your third safety?  Your trigger finger.

In the end, with a round in the chamber, the gun cocked and in your holster, to fire you first must grip the gun, deactivating the safety, you then must flip down the thumb safety and then last but certainly most important, you must put your finger on the trigger and pull.  It cannot fire any other way.

1911: Upholding the promise to defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic, for an entire century.

There are all kinds of factors that must go into deciding which gun you will use as your carry gun, but reliability should be number one.  My ATI 1911 has more than 500 rounds through it and it has NEVER failed to feed (FTF) or failed to eject (FTE).  I have used most cheap ammo, including Tulammo, a steel cased 45 acp made in Russia that is dirty and smokey.  The ATI eats it all up.

Many people don't like a single action pistol because they feel when under stress, a negligent discharge is possible with the light trigger pull of 4.5 to 6 lbs on the 1911.  Most double action triggers are somewhere between 6 and 12 lbs of pull. This is a choice you will have to make for yourself.  For what its worth, I'm comfortable with the light trigger, but may have a gunsmith take it up to 7-8 lbs, as a precaution.  But if I don't get it done, it won't bother me.

Watch Hickok45's Range Report on the ATI FX 45

The best part of owning a 1911 is that its like owning a hot rod.  Hi Perf parts are available, usually relatively cheap and are easy to change.  I have put an extended slide stop on mine and will be going with a heavier recoil spring, although to this point the factory spec spring has been fine.

1911: "Even 100 years later, it's still the best defensive pistol the world has ever known."

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The War On The Second Amendment

America is at war for her Second Amendment rights and it seems as though there is no middle ground - with nearly everyone I talk to having a strong opinion, one way or the other.

What are the gripes from non-gun owners?

"40% of all guns sold at gun shows don't include a background check!"

This statistic is gathered from a rather dubious poll taken by the National Institute of Justice in 1993-94 using a sample size of 251 citizens - That's right two-hundred-and-fifty-one!  That's one hell of a sampling size - and it was taken 20 years ago!  The poll was actually 34% with a +/- factor of 6%.  So, of course, pro-gun control advocates latched on to the 40% number as gospel, while in fact, it could have been 28% (and reading the poll itself, the numbers could have been appreciably smaller.)

This same poll shows that only 3.9% of all guns purchased in America were bought at gun shows.  So, if 3.9% of all guns were purchased at the aforementioned gun shows, and even using the high end of 40% were without background checks, then only 1.56% of all guns bought in the United States were without background checks at gun shows.  If you figure the low end of 28% (34% - 6%) then that number falls to 1.09% of all guns.  That, for all practical purposes, is one-in-a-hundred.   

And how many of those one-in-a-hundred are sold to maniacs? Bureau of Justice Polls of prison inmates in 1991 and 1997 showed that less than 1% (0.6 and 0.7) of guns used in crimes were bought at gun shows. As you can see, in a worst case scenario it becomes an infinitesimal number - less than 1 in every 10,000 guns sold at Gun Shows.

 Hmm... can you say "Mountain out of a molehill?"
[After this was posted, the Washington Post gave King Obama "Three Pinocchio's" for his continued use of his 40% stat, even though he knows its a lie.]

"We need background checks to keep the guns out of the hands of criminals!"

Okay, I know this is going to be hard to hear because to know the truth means that the politicians you voted for are lying to you, but here it is.  We already have background checks!  Let me say that again, nice and clear - WE ALREADY HAVE BACKGROUND CHECKS!  Whenever you buy a gun from a Federally Licensed dealer, he is required to run a background check through the F.B.I.  Since 1998 there have been 166,000,000 (166 MILLION) background checks performed by the F.B.I.  Yeah, you read that right.  Here in Illinois - the State I live in - We are required to apply for a Firearm Owners Identification card (F.O.I.D.) in order to purchase and or own a firearm, and guess what it requires?  An F.B.I. background check.  And when you apply for a Carry Permit? Yep, another F.B.I. background check plus checks by State, County and or Local constables.  And when I buy a gun and show them my F.O.I.D. card (which acknowledges that I have already had a background check) guess what they still have to do?  Wow, you guys are smart!  You catch on real quick... yes... Another background check!

The contention that background checks catch criminals is just plain wrong.  Criminals don't buy their guns through legal channels. You know why?  Because they're criminals!  Whoa!  I saw it!  I saw it!  It was a glimmer of light shining in your eyes... Like a mindless zombie coming back to life!  Stay with me, you'll get there, I promise.

"We need all guns registered so that if a gun crime was to occur we would know who's gun it was!"
Alright.  Lets talk about this one.  The only reason to have a gun registry is to keep a national
database of law abiding citizens who own guns.  That's it.  No other reason.  Don't believe me?  Criminals don't registers guns.  Why?  Because they don't follow laws.  That's why we call them criminals.  And if they don't register their guns, then who would be the only people listed on a national database of registered guns?  Law abiding citizens.   And why would you need information like that on law abiding citizens?  You'll have to answer that for yourself.

Getting back to gun registration.  Did you know that all legal guns are already registered?  No?  Hmm, I wonder why the same people who want a National Gun Registration Database of law abiding citizens wouldn't want you to know that?

When a gun manufacturer produces a gun its stamped with a registration / identification number.  When the manufacturer ships the gun to his Distributor, the distributor keeps a record of the number.  When the Distributor ships it to a Federally Licensed Dealer, he keeps the dealers information in his database.  When the dealer sells it to me, he writes down the registration number and I must read it off to the dealer when I pick up the gun to insure its correct.  He keeps that information on his database.

If a crime is committed with a gun, the gun registration number is taken to the manufacturer, who tells the government who the distributor was.  The government goes to the distributor and asks who he shipped it to.  The Government then goes to the Federally Licensed dealer and the dealer pulls up the number and tells them who he sold it to.  And then there is a knock on my door.  Where is your gun?  And I should have a good answer.   In Illinois, if I sold it to someone else (Father to Son, or family member or friend) I must have a receipt of the transaction with the registration number of the gun and I must keep it available for 10-years.  If it's been stolen, has it been reported? Maybe I didn't know it was stolen.  Maybe a bad guy (otherwise known as a criminal) took it without my knowledge (hard to believe anyone would do that, ya' know... because its against the law).  At the very least I may be a suspect in a gun crime.  At best all I've had is a hassle with the police.

Whats the difference between a national database of guns and owners and the way its done now?  That's an easy one.  The way its done now is out of the governments hands.  The truth be told, I don't trust them to do the right thing with a national database of guns and gun owners.  It works fine just the way it is, with all the information available to them and without them prying into our lives anymore than they already do.

"We need more laws to keep criminals from getting guns!"

The bottom line is that none of the legislation that's been brought before the Senate will stop or even lower, crime.  Why?  Because law abiding citizens follow the laws already in place.  We aren't the problem. Criminals are the problem.  They don't care about laws, they don't care about background checks, they don't care if a gun is registered or not. They don't care about you or I or their own lives. They don't care if they KILL someone!  Why?  Because they are criminals!  If they want a gun they will buy one.  Legally if they meet the parameters of the background check.  Illegally if they can't.  Pay someone to buy it for them.  Steal one. Get a fake I.D.

Laws don't make people criminals - they define who criminals are.  In order for laws to work, you must prosecute those criminals who break the laws with seeming impunity.  Here in Chicago it's a killing zone - its a story that is on the national stage due to the press for gun control laws.  Chicago is where every gun control advocate points to as the reason why we need more gun control.  Yet Chicago has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country and still people die by the hundreds every year.  And Chicago ranks dead last in prosecution of Federal gun laws!  How is this possible?  How is it that politicians can stand and deliver an emotional message of streets filled with the blood of children and not even attempt to prosecute those who have illegal guns?  Its as if they don't really care about those that have died.  This is why gun owners throw up their hands when the argument for more gun laws comes up.  All we can think is, "How about we enforce the ones that are already on the books!?"

In the end, everyone is free to form their own opinion and to voice that opinion whenever they want.  Its just a shame that those who believe in the First Amendment, journalists and electronic media who make their living off the First Amendment, citizens who have a belief and say it loudly and proudly, don't realize the First Amendment stays intact, without interference, because of the Second Amendment.

Its a shame that so many supposedly intelligent people don't realize the wolves are at the door and darkness is coming.


My new book -Concealed Carry and the War on the Second Amendment, a collection from the New Gunner Journal - is now available at Lulu.comAmazon and Barnes and Noble.  If you have any questions about Concealed Carry or are sitting on the fence, this would make a nice Christmas present to learn about the lifestyle and those who live it.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Best Gun Quotes

"A reporter did a human-interest piece on the Texas Rangers. The reporter recognized the Colt Model 1911 the Ranger was carrying and asked him 'Why do you carry a 45?' The Ranger responded, 'Because they don't make a 46.'"
- Clint Smith

"But if someone has a gun and is trying to kill you ... it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun."
- Dalai Lama

"When a strong man, fully armed, guards his house, his possessions are safe."
- Luke 11:21

"The philosophy of gun control: Teenagers are roaring through town at 90MPH, where the speed limit is 25. Your solution is to lower the speed limit to 20."
- Sam Cohen (inventor of the neutron bomb)

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
- Benjamin Franklin

"I carry a gun cause a cop is too heavy."
- Clint Smith

"As a card-carrying member of the liberal media, producing this piece was an eye opening experience. I have to admit that I saw guns as inherently evil, violence begets violence, and so on. I have learned, however, that in trained hands, just the presence of a gun can be a real "man stopper." I am sorry that women have had to resort to this, but wishing it wasn't so won't make it any safer out there."
- Jill Fieldstein (CBS producer, Street Stories: Women and Guns)

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and passed on ... or we will spend our sunset years telling our children's children what it was like in the United States when men were free."
– Ronald Reagan

"A woman who demands further gun control legislation is like a chicken who roots for Colonel Sanders."
- Larry Elder

"Though defensive violence will always be 'a sad necessity' in the eyes of men of principle, it would be still more unfortunate if wrongdoers should dominate just men."
- St. Augustine

"Remember the first rule of gunfighting ... have a gun."
- Jeff Cooper

"Gun control is like trying to reduce drunk driving by making it tougher for sober people to own cars."
- Unknown

"I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery."
- Thomas Jefferson

"It's better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have it."
- Christian Slater

"Without doubt one is allowed to resist against the unjust aggressor to one's life, one's goods or one's physical integrity; sometimes, even 'til the aggressor’s death.... In fact, this act is aimed at preserving one’s life or one’s goods and to make the aggressor powerless. Thus, it is a good act, which is the right of the victim."
- Thomas Aquinas

"By calling attention to 'a well regulated militia,' 'the security of the nation,' and the right of each citizen 'to keep and bear arms,' our founding fathers recognized the essentially civilian nature of our economy... The Second Amendment still remains an important declaration of our basic civilian-military relationships in which every citizen must be ready to participate in the defense of his country. For that reason I believe the Second Amendment will always be important."
- John F. Kennedy

"Make your attacker advance through a wall of bullets. I may get killed with my own gun, but he's gonna have to beat me to death with it, cause it's gonna be empty."
- Clint Smith

"A shoot-out is better than a massacre!"
- David M. Bennett (Average Joe)

"The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes.... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."
- Thomas Jefferson (quoting 18th century criminologist Cesare Beccaria)

"The Nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools."
- Thucydides

"The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed -- where the government refuses to stand for re-election and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake free people get to make only once."
- Judge Alex Kozinski

"Foolish liberals who are trying to read the Second Amendment out of the constitution by claiming it's not an individual right or that it's too much of a safety hazard don’t see the danger of the big picture. They're courting disaster by encouraging others to use this same means to eliminate portions of the Constitution they don't like."
- Alan Dershowitz

"The gun control extremist has at least two things in common with the Islamic extremist. He has a willingness to die for his fundamental beliefs. And he has the sanctimony to demand that others go with him."
- Dr. Mike Adams  (Average Joe)

"To disarm the people is the most effectual way to enslave them."
- George Mason

"I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians."
- George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)

"Those who deny me the freedom to carry a firearm with which to protect my family and myself, are as complicit and guilty as the perpetrator should we be harmed or murdered by an act of violence."
- Charles F. "Chuck" Bearden  (Average Joe)

"The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms."
- Samuel Adams

"What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty .... Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins."
- Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts

"The purpose of the pistol is to stop a fight that somebody else has started, almost always at very short range."
- Jeff Cooper

"Sooner or later we all must die. Warriors choose to do so on their feet, standing between their enemies and those they hold dear. With a weapon in their hands. Cowards choose to do so on their bellies. Unarmed."
- Dave Gell (Average Joe inspired by author David Weber) 

"Freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it."
- Pericles

"In a perfect world, you wouldn't need guns. This is not a perfect world."
- Sheriff Ben Johnson, Volusia County, Florida

"The West was not won with a registered gun."
- unknown

"The problem is not the availability of guns, it is the availability of morons."
- Antonio Meloni (Average Joe)

"The media insist that crime is the major concern of the American public today. In this connection they generally push the point that a disarmed society would be a crime-free society. They will not accept the truth that if you take all the guns off the street you still will have a crime problem, whereas if you take the criminals off the street you cannot have a gun problem."
- Jeff Cooper

"Know guns, no crime. No guns, know crime."
- Ralph Lauretano (Average Joe)

"Note the relationship between casual and casualty."
- Unknown

"The will to survive is not as important as the will to prevail... the answer to criminal aggression is violent retaliation."
- Jeff Cooper

And The Journey Begins...

In the opening paragraph of the introduction to David Kenik's must-read book on armed self-defense titled, "Armed Response," he states:

"Carrying a gun takes commitment - a lot of commitment.  You need to learn about firearms; learn to shoot; understand and practice gun safety; learn tactics; comprehend legal issues; practice ; clean and store the gun; adjust how you dress; and perhaps even change your lifestyle and attitude.  Beyond those issues, the study of self defense also encompasses responsibility, mindset, awareness, control, dominance and discipline.  If done right, its not an avocation to be taken lightly."

As a novice gun owner, reading this paragraph brought home the subtleties of being a greenhorn... who carries.  One of the reasons I'm writing the New Gunner Journal is too give those like minded, newbie concealed carry / gun owners a place to touch base with, to hear what another novice is going thru, to realize there are others out there just like them who starts this lifestyle with doubts and fears.

My Son gave me my first go-round of gun safety.  Never put your finger in the trigger-well until you are ready to shoot.  Always point the gun in a safe direction and never at anything you don't intend to destroy.  Any gun that you pick up, you are responsible for checking to see if its loaded - even if the person who just handed it to you demonstrated that it was empty.  Never sweep anyone with a gun, even when its unloaded. When cleaning your gun, take the ammo and magazines out of the room to a safe place for storage.  There are more safety insights, but the bottom line is... you do these steps each and every time you handle a gun.  No excuses.  And why?  Because if you make each one of these points of safety a habit, if you do them each and every time, then you make yourself and those around you safe from negligent harm.

When I received my first gun - a Walther P22Q - a friend of mine, ex-military, told me the best thing I could do was to get some snap caps (fake ammo used for practicing reloading, ejecting, dry firing, stove pipes and such) and handle the gun every day to become not only practiced with how it worked, but to build a comfort zone with the gun.  He couldn't have been more spot on.

Every day I would carefully take the unloaded gun out, check to see that it was unloaded, load snap caps into a mag, load the pistol and practice holding the gun with my finger along the slide, finally settling upon the ejector port as a comfortable rest for my index finger.  I practiced loading and unloading, working the safety, dropping the mag, ejecting the snap caps, clearing stovepipes, tapping and racking and firing (dry) and keeping the gun pointed in a safe direction at all times.

As I worked with the little Walther on a daily basis, I began to understand the irrational fears I had about guns in general.  The more I used it, the more familiar I became with it the more practiced my habits, the less fear I felt.  The less anxiety.  I wasn't emboldened, but I was gaining confidence that I wouldn't slip up... at least as long as I continued to practice good safety habits.

As kids we pick up our six-shooters, rip them out of the holster and start banging away at unseen bandits.  Our fingers naturally went to the trigger as soon as we picked up our Colt Widowmakers, ready for the next gunslinger to ride into town.

And now, as I began to work with my gun, I realized how ingrained it was to have my finger go right to the trigger.  When I first did it without thinking, I felt the blood rush from my face as I realized how badly that small mistake could affect myself, my loved ones and passersby.  Of course the gun wasn't loaded, but the realization of what I had just done hit home like a bat to the stomach - it takes your breath away.

I immediately knew that this was an accident that just could not happen.  Ever.  I began a regimen of not only all those things I described doing on a daily basis, but now included picking up and setting the gun down 50-60-70 times a session.  Over and over and over until my finger went naturally to the ejector port.  Until it felt like that's where it belonged all along.  Until if felt like it never would feel comfortable anywhere else, ever again.

I haven't made that mistake again.

Now I keep a loaded 45 acp 1911 in a safe that no one can get to but me.  But even with those safety habits ingrained and even as I continue to train with them, opening that safe and wrapping my hand around my pistol, I still realize that my full attention must be on the matter at hand.

And this is where we start.  This is the beginning of the journey.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Leaping the Grand Canyon for want of a Rattlesnake

The difference between researching guns and committing to owning and carrying a gun, for me, was like leaping across the bottomless gaping maw of the Grand Canyon.  On the one side of the sheer drop are like-minded non-gun owners and the great masses of anti-gun Second Amendment haters (here and forever known in the New Gunner Journal as Treasonous Traitors).
And as you sit with them and contemplate gun ownership, ruminate over their lethality, ponder the vagaries and the responsibilities of gun ownership,  deliberate on the accountability of the gun owner and whether owning a gun is worth the obligation to safety and the training that will protect you and your loved ones from the bad guys in life - it all seems surreal and dreamlike, how silly that anyone would want to own a gun!  It seems like a childhood fantasy of hero's in white and bad guys in black who cry "Curses, foiled again!" - As they fall in a dramatic, groaning, bloodless, soft focus death while the heroine buries her face in the barrel chest of her Savior, wistfully sighing, "My Hero!"

But I'm here to tell you - owning a gun is nothing like that.  Its a commitment that quite literally changes your life.

Once you make that giant, unnerving leap across the expansive canyon, the magnitude of your decision quickly comes into a sharp, cutting focus - the difference between duck down feathers and an anvil.  The weight of the choice you've just made, to own, train and carry a gun that can take the life of another in the blink of a momentarily distracted eye, is crushing - in many respects, nearly overwhelming.  And for those who are reading this who've never owned a gun, who are so cocksure that gun owners are fantasizing, irresponsible, feckless dolts - You can't possibly know what the far side of the canyon is like until you arrive there, until you experience it, until you've made the commitment, taken the weight of the responsibility and the accountability - in short, until you've made the conscious, dire promise to keep yourself, your loved ones and innocents alike, safe from harm... at any cost.

Now, with the leap made, I own my first gun.  A Walther P22Q.  A fine little .22 caliber pistol that is fun and cheap to shoot.  And then my second gun, my carry gun, the one posted on top of my Journal, an ATI FX45 1911.  A beautiful, hairy beast with the charm and grace of a Princess and the stopping power of Joe Frazier having a bad day.  Sounds cool and fun, doesn't it?

But here is where the real truth of gun ownership comes into play.  This is what is so hard to explain to non-gun owners.  To the gun-control advocates.  To those who believe gun owners are immature men and women who need to have their ego's stroked.

The real truth (for me) is that every time I open my safe to access my gun, the weight of the responsibility washes over me.  As the safe door opens, I am completely committed to the task at hand, my concentration sharp and fixed on what I'm doing.  I'm hyper-aware of my surroundings and anything that might take my attention away from the work ahead of me.  The only way that I can describe the sensation is like this:

Reaching into my safe for my gun is like reaching down to pick up a venomous snake - a dangerous, agitated, buzzing Rattlesnake.  You know that every bit of your attention needs to be on the gun.  There is a soft sensation of dread, that this gun could and will bite, if you aren't completely and utterly engaged in what you are doing.  And this is not a bad thing.  This is what keeps you from doing harm to anyone other than someone who is using lethal force against you.  This is what keeps you focused, reminds you of your safety checks and practiced habits - finger out of the trigger well and the gun always - ALWAYS - pointed in a safe direction, never sweeping anyone.  This is what stops you from cutting corners, doing things the easy way.  This is what makes you check and recheck your gun to make sure its empty.  This is what forces you to walk back down the long hallway and put away your live ammo before breaking down and cleaning your gun - instead of leaving it on the table, an accident waiting to happen.  And you do these things, step by anally retentive step, even when you are alone in your home.

Does this sound like a childhood / hero worship / gun toting fantasy?

No, its a heavy responsibility.  Its an oath you've charged yourself with.  It is a self-imposed discipline.  It is training and work and practice, classes and more practice, expense and more practice.  In many ways it defines who you are, who you've become and who you will be when the chips are down and those around you, those you love and are bound to protect, are in mortal danger.  No one I know who owns a gun takes this lightly.

Now that I'm on this side of the canyon, I look back on those who I've left behind and I realize they are clueless.  What they think they know, they don't.  What they believe, they should question. What they understand to be true is a lie. And, unfortunately, the only way to find this out is to come to the far side of the canyon.

I'm here... and the view is breathtaking.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

You're killin' me, Smalls!

Its hard to talk to people who are pro-gun control.  I mean... really, really hard.  There isn't a fact they won't ignore, a catch phrase they don't embrace or a heinous, emotional event they won't stoop to aggrandize for the sake of their own desperate, rights infringing cause.  Like Ham Porter in the movie Sandlot, I want to look a them and scream... "You're killin' me, Smalls!"

But what really raises my ruckus is their pompous, arrogant, tsk tsk tsking, holier-than-thou attitude - where they stand looking down from above to bestow upon us meandering neanderthals the gift of their wisdom and the charity of their knowledge of how the world should be and why we should follow them to the promised land - where they can look after us and take care of us... kind of like an old, stupid dog who has outlived its usefulness.

You may give them facts from the F.B.I. Crime Statistics page that show the gun murder rate in the United States has dropped 50% since 1992 while Concealed Carry has gone up in that same time frame and they will counter with Newtown, where a madman massacred children in a gun-free zone in a state (Connecticut)  which has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, and they are so blinded by this event that they can't see that their argument only proves the point of those that fight to uphold the Second Amendment.

They use words like "weapons of war", "common sense" and "assault weapon"... as if saying the words over and over make them real, make them true.  But they can never quite wrap their heads around the idea that common sense says children should never be left vulnerable to the mentally unstable with illegal weapons... that gun free zone laws serve only to keep out the lawful citizen, because lawful citizens don't bring a gun where its illegal.  Only the bad guys do.

They live in mortal fear of guns, as if this inanimate object can suddenly explode in violence, all by its lonesome, like an unstable, nitro sweating stick of old, moldy dynamite.  And their fear will not be assuaged.  The gun-control advocates are like children who cross their arms in front of their chests with a loud "harrumph", turn their faces away from you and hold their breath.  They want what they want and they don't need the argument clouded with facts, common sense or killing fields called "gun-free zones."  They stamp their feet and let you know that if they don't want guns, then no one should have guns.

Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

I have yet to talk to someone who is in favor of gun-control that doesn't believe that all gun owners are drunken idiots who can't wait to pull the trigger on some poor unsuspecting person, laying waste to all those around them in a gleeful, testosterone laden, rampage of a childhood cowboy shootout fantasy.

Gun-control zealots believe gun owners will mistakenly pull the trigger.  That we will fumble and drop our guns, causing them to go off.  That we will leave our children unattended with guns laying about, loaded, cocked and ready to rock.  That we drink and carry.  That we twirl our guns like an old
western gunfighter.  That we prowl the streets and back alleys at night with $100 dollar bills bulging from our pockets in the hopes someone will try to rob us, so that we may kill them in the name of justice.

They bring up "facts" that aren't true - using Britain as the bright shining ideal of gun confiscation - even though Britain's gun crimes went up after the confiscation and to this day, the Brits have a higher violent crime rate than we do.

Many have no clue at all as to what an "assault weapon" really is.  Many believe its a fully automatic weapon.  Most don't know that the guns they're trying to ban account for a ridiculously low number of deaths on a year to year basis.  In 2011, 323 of 12,664 murders were attributed to rifles, and only a small percentage of those were the "assault weapons" that this country is up in arms about.  323 murders by rifle... 728 by hands, fist, feet, etc.  Yeah, you read that right.

So we just keep plugging along, trying to keep our Second Amendment rights alive.  And in the end, if those gun-control zealots would close their mouths long enough to hear some simple truths, they would find out that the only Amendment in the Bill of Rights that guarantees the protection of all their Rights, is the Second Amendment.  If it wasn't so sad, I'd laugh.


Friday, April 12, 2013


Those friends and family who’ve known me most of my life may have been surprised by my sudden jump into gun ownership, but the reality is, I was never against guns, I'd just never felt the need to keep a gun in my home if I wasn’t able to carry it on my person on a daily basis.
I never saw the point of keeping a loaded gun in the home with children around, the risk vs reward factor, for me, was too high.  Some of the thoughts that went into that decision were based on, in no particular order – An irrational fear of the weapon itself (as I had never had any training,) fear of the consequences of one of my children somehow getting a'hold of the gun and flat-out ignorance of the mindset and training of the gun owner who takes on the responsibility of keeping a firearm.  Add the fact that I have always lived in relative safety in towns that had low crime rates and thus, in my mind, someone breaking into my home was the only reason for me to keep a gun – and that probability was very low, nearly non-existent.

Now forward many years.  My children are grown, my wife and I have five grand kids, life is good.  From out of nowhere comes the news that the U.S 7th Court of Appeals has ruled that Illinoisans shall be allowed to Conceal Carry in self defense both in the home and in public... and now I had reason to buy a gun.

I worked for 20+ years as a delivery driver on the south side of Chicago.  Through all that time, delivering to some of the worst neighborhoods - not just in Chicago, but the country - I carried a boot knife, a small bat in the cab and a meat hook that hung on the rails of my truck for emergency use, if I needed it. 

Although I never had an altercation, being alone in an alley, after dark or before dawn with nothing but the above mentioned tools to protect me was more than a little nerve wracking at times.  There were bad situations that took place within our company - one of our drivers was attacked by a man with a knife (the driver took it away from him, the attacker much worse for the wear) - another where my Brother had to huddle down between the cab and trailer of his truck while a running gunfight took place on the side street where he was delivering concrete - and another where one of our drivers, caught in the crossfire of several men, ended up face to face with a gun wielding thug who looked him in the eye - and then turned and ran, firing blindly back over his shoulder at his enemies.

So, the reality was, even with laws in place that forbade individuals to carry a gun, the bad guys still had them while the law abiding lived or died at the whim of the gunman.  With the ruling by the Courts, this changed in an instant - and I am going to make full use of it.

I believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (not Bill of Wants as many think of it) and for the first time since I was born, Illinois was being forced to allow me my rights (as if they had the right to take them in the first place.)

Now I have the right to Keep And Bear Arms in self defense of my loved ones and myself.  I believe that anyone who is confronted with lethal force should be able to defend themselves in kind and for a long time, in Illinois, this was not the case. 

I hope to God I never have to pull my pistol in self defense.  I pray I can avoid the situations that lead to lethal force - hell, the truth be told, I would just as soon run.  But in the end, boxed in and with no other outs, I will not be a victim.

And now you know why I will carry.