We need more guns (part 1 of 3) 1

Mark Heinz

We’re cooking up the zeros, we’ve been doing all the sums.

The judgement of this court is — we need more guns. (“Guns” by Coldplay — Chris Martin, Guy Berryman, Jonathan Buckland, William Champion)

I was maybe 7 or 8 when my parents first let me shoot a BB gun. A woods and wetlands behind our house contained birds, frogs, and all sorts of little critters that I shot and killed.

Eventually I graduated to hunting with a 12-gauge shotgun. I hunted rabbits mostly. I also killed squirrels, quail, doves, woodcock, and ducks. (I didn’t have the patience to hunt deer.)

In the Army, I was a crack shot with an M16A1 rifle. During Basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, I shot a perfect 40 out of 40 at a notoriously difficult shooting range. I was the first “boot” to shoot 40/40 at that range in almost two years.

At Fort Jackson, I also fired an M2 .50 caliber machine gun. Every tenth round was a tracer round, so I could see where my bullets traveled. I thought it was way, way cool—unpleasantly loud, but way cool.

Over the years, I’ve known a few cops and assorted gunowners. I’ve fired all kinds of rifles and handguns, including a .44 Magnum rifle, and a .44 Magnum revolver—“the most powerful handgun in the world....” (Harry Callahan in the movie Dirty Harry).

I’m not opposed to guns, per se. My main question for gunowners is “why?” Why do you choose to own a gun?

Of course, I’m not opposed to owning a gun for hunting, (although I disapprove of certain types of hunting).

I’m not opposed to owning a gun for recreational shooting. As a carpenter, I spent most of my life handling loud and dangerous tools. Yes, firing a gun is thrilling in a way. But I mostly find it loud and unpleasant—and it’s expensive, about $1 for a single .44 Magnum bullet.

I’m not opposed to owning a gun for home protection. However, I wonder at the practicality of that. It’s recommended that guns be kept unloaded and locked in a gun cabinet or, best of all, a gun safe. So, in the event of a home invasion, you’re telling a vicious criminal, like, “Just give me a few minutes, please, while I unlock my gun safe and load my gun.”

Me, I’d rather have a baseball bat handy.

Earlier this year, (2/10/2021) USA Today‘s Douglas A McIntyre reported, “Guns in America: Nearly 40 million guns were purchased legally in 2020 and another 4.1 million bought in January.”

“U.S. gun sales in January surged 60% to 4,137,480. This makes it the largest single month since figures started to be recorded in 1998.”

Let’s pause right here and think about that. U.S. gun sales reached their highest level ever in January 2021. That just so happens to be the month when violent insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C.

“The rise is part of a trend. Gun sales in the United States rose 40% last year to 39,695,315. The figure also represents the high-water mark in gun sales since the current record-keeping system went into effect....

“Growing civil unrest may have prompted people to buy guns for personal and family protection, many social scientists have posited, although this remains a matter of debate. Another theory is that chaos brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic is a major cause. A new UC Davis School of Medicine study about fear of violence reports: ‘The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated persistent structural, economic, and social inequities in the conditions that contribute to violence and its consequences.’

“Who bought these guns? CBS News pointed out that over 5 million people were first-time gun buyers last year....

“The state with the most sales in January was Illinois at an extraordinary 1,002,118. That is 24% of national sales for the month. However, the state has slightly less than 4% of the national population. The same pattern holds true for the state that had the second-highest gun sales figure last month. Kentucky’s figure hit 421,790, or just over 10% of the national total. Its population is only 1.3% of the U.S. number.

“At the current pace, gun sales in America will reach almost 50 million this year. It is too early to say whether the January trend will continue. However, it is nearly assured that 2021 will set another annual record.”

I was surprised to learn that our son Logan is part of those statistics. He purchased his first gun, a Springfield 9 mm. semi-automatic handgun, earlier this year.

I asked about the gun, and Logan told me: “If I could snap my fingers like Thanos, and no one had guns or the desire to own them, I would. However, that’s just not the world, or more accurately, that’s not the country we live in. Principally, I never wanted to own a gun and I very much desire to never see mine again (although I should probably get it out once a year and make sure I remember how to load it properly). I was more of the mindset that I don’t put myself in dangerous situations, I don’t live in a dangerous neighborhood, so I should be fine.

“That mindset changed towards the end of the Donald Trump presidency. After seeing, for months, images of armed militias ‘peacefully protesting’ in state capitols over mask mandates and keeping watchful eyes over BLM protests: BAM, the ‘gravy SEAL’ [not Navy SEAL] insurrectionists attack the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overturn the Presidential election. So, I arrived at the conclusion that these were the most ill-informed, and painfully well-armed, sore losers in the world. And they numbered in the millions. At the end of the day, I didn’t like feeling quite so underprepared, should any of them start going after anyone who voted for the ‘false’ President, Joe Biden.

“Am I in any more danger now than before? No. Not really. Is anyone going to come banging down my door to attack me or my wife? Most likely not. But I feel a little better knowing that I’d have more than a taser against any of these lunatics.”

Our son Logan is every inch a man—a finer specimen of manhood than I ever was. It saddened me to think that he had bought a gun because he was afraid, or fearful. That’s not my son; he’s not afraid or fearful—and this isn’t the America I envisioned for our children.

The Urban Dictionary defines “gravy SEAL” as: “A person either belonging to a militia group or has an unhealthy obsession with the military, guns, and anti-government views, but was never actually in the military due to either being grossly out of shape, mentally unfit, or just too dumb to function.”

Having served in the Army (and having known a few cops), I never lost faith in our military and our police to stand up for democracy when push came to shove—and they did. It’s sad and it’s shameful that Republicans claim to be the party of “law and order”—while they deliberately foster and facilitate a system that creates fear and uncertainty and compels peace-loving, law-abiding citizens (like my son) to buy guns.

Mark Heinz lives at Nolin Lake. Visit his website at amazon.com/author/markheinzbooks.

Mark Heinz lives at Nolin Lake. Visit his website at amazon.com/author/markheinzbooks.

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