At this time I write an essay for school about americans and guns.
As you see, I'm not from America, but I wonder why you all use guns. further I'm interested how you became a gunowner and in your personal record.
it would be very nice, if anyone would write on my questions..
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April 27, 2003, 08:14 AM
Well, you came to the right place. Thank you for keeping an open mind; it's more than many people do.
You asked a pretty big question, and I'm sure many will be along to answer.
Why I own guns? First and foremost, they're FUN. I enjoy shooting, especially military-style rifles. Also very important is personal defense; I've not yet needed to defend my home, but should I ever need to I feel better having firearms at hand.
How do you become a gun owner in America? If you're over 18 (21 for handguns), you walk into a gun store and buy one. They do an FBI background check, and if you're not found to be a convicted felon, have outstanding warrants, or have been judged legally/mentally incompetent, you pay the dealer and bring your firearm home. There's paperwork involved, and many states have their own laws on top of that, but that's the basic process.
My personal record? Not sure what you mean. I have no criminal record if that's what you're referring to; quite the contrary.
As for my background...there's not much to tell. I'm 21 years old, and am a university student, studying political science. I'm in the Army National Guard (for another year, anyway), and plan on going on to law school after I get my undergraduate degree. I grew up in a small town (my High School graduating class had 99 students). I was a student pilot for a couple years, and plan on picking it up again as soon as I am able. I don't hunt, and I don't participate in shooting competitions. I just do it for the fun.
Welcome to THR. :)
April 27, 2003, 09:40 AM
In the early days of European settlement, guns were brought by those people. So, you might consider why they, themselves, had already had them in Europe. :)
Those early folks needed firearms for acquiring meat. Any people moving into new territory needed some way to get food besides wait for three months for the harvest of a crop. A person can subsist on a purely-meat diet for quite a long time.
Self-defense was a need, from those first days. Not all Europeans were welcomed by the indigenous population already occupying this territory.
Thus hunting and self-defense became traditional. These traditions still hold among those most likely to be self-sufficient in their lives, those most likely to feel responsibility for their own well-being.
I grew up within the tradition of shooting and hunting. My family background is rural; farming and ranching. (School teaching and engineering are also parts of that background.) One protects one's livestock from predators by whatever means work.
Deer meat tastes good. Same for elk or quail or wild hogs or wild turkey or ducks or geese. The hunter--and the gardener--is a do-it-yourselfer. When you buy food from a grocery or a restaurant, you are merely hiring somebody else to have done the scutwork, the dirty work, for you.
Me? I'm a retired civil engineer. I'm old enough to have plowed behind a horse, back when tractors were still rather primitive and relatively expensive. I've worked cattle out of thorny mesquite thickets, which was rough on both me and the horse. Spent four years in the Army, some 50 years ago. Been a coin-collector/dealer; amateur gunsmith; reloader...Done lotsa stuff, just 'cause I wanted to, and it seemed like fun at the time...
April 27, 2003, 09:50 AM
Why? Originally because it was fun to shoot cans and jugs of water and other inanimate objects. That was about 1 and a half years ago, as I am quite young. Now, it is still fun to shoot paper at the range, cans, and jugs of water. And I also have is a self defense tool just in case of an emergency. While I would prefer not to use it, police are only human and cannot be everywhere, and even then, some of them are the ones we need to defend ourselves from.
I became a gun owner by going to the gun shop, filling out the paperwork and walking out with a 1911 pistol. I had gone target shooting a few months before for the first time and decided to get my own. Now, 9 handguns, 3 rifles, and 1 shotgun later... here I am!
I don't really understand the personal record question... I haven't had any accidents with the firearms... have introduced my wife to firearms and now she has 3 of her own... what other records did you want?
April 27, 2003, 10:08 AM
As you see, I'm not from America, but I wonder why you all use guns.
Shooting is fun, whether it be hunting, formal competition, or just informal practice (known as "pliniking.) I learned to shoot a BB gun at age 6 1/2, and by the time I was 8, I was using a shotgun to hunt with my father. I have had pretty much a life-long love affair with firearms, and it's only gotten stronger as I have aged (I'm nearly 48 now.)
However, the primary reason I own firearms is not for any of the above stated purposes. I choose to own firearms because they are the most effective tool to use if one has to fight for one's life. Regardless of what you may have been taught in your home country, self-defense is a very basic human right. The foremost right of every human being on earth is the right to life. It is the exercising of this right which allows a person to be free, and not a slave. The right to life can be stated simply: A person's life, and the fruits of their labor, are theirs to do with as they please.
The right to defend one's life is nothing more than an extension of that basic right. If my life is mine, then it is mine to protect, and I choose to protect it by using tools specifically designed for that purpose; military style (fighting) firearms.
When I was a youngster, buying a firearm was no different than buying a loaf of bread. Guns could be purchased at gun shops, hardware stores, department stores....you could even order guns by mail. You just decided what you wanted, and then paid for it.
I'm not sure what you mean by my "record." If I still owned every gun I'd purchased or been given, I would have about 300 or so firearms. I've never had an accident with a firearm which resulted in any harm to any living creature, and I intend to keep it that way.
I own guns because I like them, they're fun to use, and they can be essential in a crisis situation by providing food and protection for me and my family. In short, I own them simply because I'm free to do so, and I want to be as prepared as I can be for life's uncertainties.
April 27, 2003, 11:02 AM
Its an interesting hobby for me. 30 some years ago I was sitting in a USO overseas and I picked up an American Rifleman magazine (still have the issue) and read an article about captured Vietnam weapons. Soon as I got back to the States I purchased my first gun, a Ruger single-Six in .22 lr. I study guns and their developement like some people study race cars and their engines. No logic with me, no self-defense motive, I enjoy studying military firearms history. The second amendment as far as I am concerned is and has been interperated several ways and I feel that our gun-owner rights will be lost within the next 50 years. In the end we will be a nation of registered single-shot shotgun & ATF dewat owners, anytime you want to shoot it will be done by electronic simulation. By and large the majority of the shooting public will be happy with this compromise because it will be cheaper, safer, enable a larger variety of "personal ownership" firearms, no regulations or registration, and cheap long distance electronic competition. The big downside, no personal self-defense or gun ownership.
BTW; we lost the "right" to do as we please a long time ago.
April 27, 2003, 11:06 AM
Why not ... ?
April 27, 2003, 11:11 AM
I invited Henrike to THR by email. Thank you for welcoming her.
April 27, 2003, 11:18 AM
I grew up being denied the ability to even play with toy guns, but made up for it, by making my own. When I became old enough, I was given a .22 rifle, and progressed from there.
I have taught my children to safely handle guns, and shoot, even though my oldest daughter does not shoot anymore.
My chosen profession requires me to carry, something that I have done now for close to 18 years now, starting out as a police officer( 9 years), working as a PI for 6 years, and the past 3 as a deputy sheriff.
I enjoy shooting, as much as collecting guns, and feel that you can never have enough, although the wife sometimes disagrees.
April 27, 2003, 11:29 AM
BTW; we lost the "right" to do as we please a long time ago.
I disagree with this. We didn't lose the right, we lost the liberty to excercise that right. (Remember Carbon15's friend? He had the right to go to the range with guns, just not enough liberty to go to and fro with them.) Hope that makes sense. Its still all about liberty.
I own guns for much the same reasons already stated. Fun, food, freedom, defense against criminals & tyranny, respectable practical hobby which keeps me out of trouble (so far).
April 27, 2003, 11:52 AM
Henrike; Like most people here I started as a gun owner to protect my family from harm, I can do much more with my loaded 45 to keep an intruder from harming my family than with a telephone full of police dispatch, It is after all My responsibility not the police's to protect My family and Myself.
Also target shooting, competitions , and hunting are great fun and we have much enjoyment doing them as well as developing respect, safety, and responsibility with the arms doing such.
I don't have a record (only CDs)
I served 4 years in the Marine Corp, worked Industrial Construction and Maintenance, and now as an Operator.
What is your history?, and your feelings so far about firearms?
BTW welcome to The High Road
April 27, 2003, 12:34 PM
I use guns to shoot! Whether that be paper or tin cans or pests or, God forbid in the gravest extreme that hopefully will never happen, people.:( I shoot a lot because it is fun and hard. I learned gunhandling when I was 8 years old from my family. I became a gun owner when my father gave my his old .22 rifle and I won a revolver in a contest. My dad also helped me buy another .22 because I'm not 18 years old yet. My grandfather gave me a muzzleloader he didn't have a use for.
record so far:confused: criminal record? uh, no criminal record. Safety record? Perfect so far. I intend to keep it that way.
April 27, 2003, 12:37 PM
My personal record was 515 in the squat, but that was several years ago. You mean stuff like age and occupation?
I'm 25 years old, married with two sons, and I teach school for a living.
I grew up hunting for food. Now that I have a family I shoot mostly to protect them and my home, although I still enjoy hunting. And like many Americans, I try to stay fairly proficient so that if I absolutely had to, I could report for service with my local militia to respond to external or internal threats. Internal threats are considered much more likely at this point in history. Beyond all this, again like many Americans, I just plain enjoy shooting. It's a challenging skill and an interesting intersection of skill and technology.
Mostly, I like being a free man. Not being TOLD that I am a free man, but knowing that I am armed and able to demand the right to control my own destiny if push comes to shove.
April 27, 2003, 01:08 PM
at first: Thank you for your replies.
Sorry, that you missunderstood me. With personal record I ment "your way of live from birth until now". Perhaps I could see there a reason why not every European got a weapon at home forseen that we can not by law.
What is your history?, and your feelings so far about firearms?
Hm... interested in my way of life.. ok:
I was born, my mother had separated from my father. I grew up,went to school where I also go now.
We live in our own house (what I'm very proud of) in a little town.
My feelings about firearms.. Thats a more difficult question because I never had one. And I think I will never get one. I just know one who has contact with guns, he wants to become a hunter.
I just have no opinion on firearms.
So, one more question: Do (Did) you change your opinion on guns seeing those crimes like Littleton happening or does this not influence you (and why?) ?
April 27, 2003, 01:33 PM
welcome Henrike , as for my record its more like an album ( kidding ) after secondary school I was sponsored to be a law enforcement officer but I dropped out of the program for personnal reasons,up until that time I never handled a handgun , growing up on a farm in central rual america I always shot longguns ( rifles , shotguns ) after being trained in the use of a handgun, I liked the competition aspect of it ,shooting targets for speed , but also shooting for defense at the same time . I gotten married, then divorced ,then after I dated for some years I had a former girlfriend's family member threaten my life , thats when I reverted back to my self defense mode of shooting , I live on the edge of a large city outside of chicago and the response time is sometimes non existant ( some calls are never responded too.) so I took up handguns as a mode of self preservation and protection , then sport. then in the last several years as a mode of americanism , as the rights that once we had are slowing dwindling away and socialism is starting to rear it's nasty head in our political system ,the constitution of our country says it all why we are allowed to have them , to prevent total domination and removal of our basic rights as humans.
April 27, 2003, 01:49 PM
Born to a single poor mother in a very bad part of of Baltimore. Started riding the public bus alone to school at 5, and got mugged for every tape player I ever owned, mom had a revolver for HD. At 14 mom marres step dad whom is a hunter and we move to the country. HD is not an issue but hunting is a lot of fun, in fact hunting with pops is the first time I actually have fun with a firearm. Came to DC area after highschool and briefly attended college. No interaction with firearms while on campus, got into some legal problems, (DUI, paraphanelia). Got past all that, Now live in a house in the city and HD is the main use now (a very real concern), Mossberg 500 with short barrell and pistol grip, but I wish I had more time for the range, and can't wait to get a handgun. I Build websites to get by these days and am thinking of joining the Army. Old American Cars are really my main hobby over firearms though, and I have considered selling firearms to afford engine parts in the past.
Columbine did not change my opinion. Actually I was thinking that if some teachers were armed and trained maybe they could have stopped it. My sister is a highschool science teacher and tends to agree.
April 27, 2003, 01:52 PM
I own guns for target shooting and for self-defense.
Shooting a gun is easy. Shooting a gun and putting the bullet right where you want it is very difficult. I find shooting to be a very challenging sport, both mentally and physically. I enjoy the challenge. That's why I shoot for fun.
As for keeping a gun for self-defense, my particular story is a bit lengthy. I grew up in New York City, which is extremely restrictive on gun ownership. For the first 28 years of my life I never owned guns or even knew anyone that did. I also never had any desire to own any. Although I didn't know anyone who owned a gun, I did know several people that had been robbed at knife point and gun point, including my mom and including myself when I was a teenager. Still, the idea of carrying a gun for personal protection was quite foreign to me.
Then I moved to Idaho for a couple years. While there my girlfriend got me into guns. I enjoyed target shooting, but still had a New York City attitude towards carrying guns around for self-defense. Of course, I believed the line that police officials feed to the public...that is it better to comply with a robber than to fight back.
All that changed when I did some research on the subject. According to the government's own nationwide survey, you have a better chance of escaping injury when you fight back with a gun than if you comply with the attacker. After some more research I realized that there really was no "gun problem". The combined injuries and deaths cause by other weapons far exceeds that caused by guns. So I decided to defend myself with a gun, because statistically speaking, that is the best way to avoid being injured in a criminal attack.
As for Littleton, there are many counter points and counter questions for such a question as you have asked. For instance, I could ask "do you think the situation would have been so bad, had all adults in the building been armed?"
I can also ask "when you see a police chase on TV and the car being chased causes a major accident and hurts several people...does that change your opinion on cars?"
The fact is that guns, and cars, and knives, are inanimate objects. It is the person that wields them that decides to do good or do harm. So I don't form an opinion of the object. I form an opinion of the person that uses it.
April 27, 2003, 01:56 PM
Greetings, Henrike. Welcome to THR.
I've always been interested in guns in the same way that a lot of people are interested in cars. While some people might admire a Subaru WRX or a vintage muscle car, I find myself admiring AR15's and vintage 1911's. I've also found that the competitive shooting sports are some of the most enjoyable and rewarding sports out there. In order to ultimately win the only person you're competing against is yourself. I liken competitive target shooting to throwing free-throws in basketball. It's nothing more than a test of accuracy and concentration.
As for my personal record. I've always been interested in guns, but didn't really get to act on it until I was in college. That's when I bought my first pistol and joined the shooting club that was on campus. About a year ago I graduated from college with a degree in Computer Graphics Technology and I now work for a television station.
On the politics side of things, a couple of years ago I came to the conclusion that individual liberty is the best philosophical outlook and it's one that should not be trifled with.
So, one more question: Do (Did) you change your opinion on guns seeing those crimes like Littleton happening or does this not influence you (and why?) ? Yes. After seeing what happened at Columbine I was sickened by the idea of all these people in one place, and none of them had the ability to protect themselves from two murderous idiots. That was one factor in my decision to carry a handgun practically everywhere.
April 27, 2003, 02:04 PM
Let's see... I was born in germany while my dad was in the army. Being a soldier's son I grew up around many different types of guns...tanks, fighter jets, etc... My father has always had guns in the house, though he isn't a big shooter and we only went to the range a couple times. Both my mom and dad are more or less pro gun. I have always found guns interesting and have always had toy guns. When I transferred to Sam Houston (in the country) and had nothing to do I focused my attention to guns as far as a hobby and recreational activity. It relieves a lot of stress to go out to the range and shoot at poor defensless paper. Home defense is also a concern, but not as much at the moment due to the location I live in. I own 3 guns at the moment, 2 rifles, 1 shotgun. I will be buying a few handguns this summer after I turn 21. Hope this helps
April 27, 2003, 02:11 PM
Why you ask? I'm probably repeating myself but this is why I own firearms. They are fun. Fun to shoot with, hunt with and tinker with. I also own them for self defense. I think everyone has a right to defend themselves. Anyone who thinks otherwise and wishes me to change my position is a fool, I think(I don't mind pacifists who leave me alone). All life is precious. And while it would pain me to do so, I am willing to defend my own and other lives if it means I must kill or injury someone.
I also look at it as my duty to attempt to be ready to fight for my country, against an enemy without or within. I think that duty not only requires that I have a gun but that I learn how to use it and how to apply it.
If I understand you, you want my life story, in a can. Here it is. My father is a computer consultant and retired Airforce Mechanic. My mother is a nurse, thinking of retiring now.(About time.) Basically I had a good childhood. Which means it was boring. :) I never really bothered with the gun issue till I was about thirteen. I knew how to operate the "family shotgun" but gun rights never entered my mind. Then I realized that the ban on any gun was wrong. I can't remember what triggered that. Anyways, here I am now. Seventeen, considering military service via college ROTC and wishing for more money.
April 27, 2003, 03:14 PM
You sure came to the right place to learn about guns.
Perhaps I could see there a reason why not every European got a weapon at home forseen that we can not by law.
I do not know what country you are from, but you shouldn't talk about Europe as if it has only one culture and law.
Here in Norway we have close to the number of guns per capita as in the US.
Many homes has one or more guns, for hunting and sports shooting, and many has rifles issued by the government for use in the home guard.
Finland and Switserland are other countries in Europe where owning firearms is common.
April 27, 2003, 03:23 PM
Welcome to THR!:D
April 27, 2003, 03:23 PM
My great-grandfather depended on his guns for food. My grandfather and father used guns to get food but were less reliant on them.
When I was young, I used to go with my father early in the mornings to hunt squirrels so that we could bring them back to the family for breakfast. As time passed, farmers seemed to stop relying on guns to get them food and simply bought everything they needed in stores. I suppose hunters nowdays hunt for the "sport" although they do enjoy eating what they kill.
I no longer hunt but I keep guns handy (and carry one daily) in case it might be needed. Why might it be needed?
To stop someone from breaking into your home and hurting your family....
To stop an attack by a vicioius wild animal....
To stop a mugger.....
Tp stop a crazed gunman (or terrorist) from killing lots of innocent people
There are many ways that a gun might help you defend yourself or otherwise protect another innocent person's life. AND if things in this world get REALLY bad, I could always use them to hunt again and get food if needed.
April 27, 2003, 03:32 PM
Why? Because I choose to.
In a free society, an individual has that choice.
April 27, 2003, 03:48 PM
Herzlich willkommen, Henrike!
(My guess as to your nationality is just a shot in the dark :) I hope you're not offended if I'm wrong.)
As you see, I am not American, so I can not really answer your questions. I just thought I would mention a couple of facts about gun ownership in general. Americans are not the only ones who own guns. Maybe it's just that they make more noise about it, like everything else they do :)
I own more guns than many Americans on this board, and I was introduced to shooting at an earlier age than most. As Kobun says, countries like Norway, Finland and Switzerland have gun ownership rates comparable to that of the US, and we can in some cases own types of guns and accerories that they can't, like "standard capacity" magazines and sound suppressors for example.
Why do I shoot? Well, it's fun. Shooting is one the most demanding sports there is, IMHO. My friends will also tell you that I like shooting because it is the only sport you can do lying flat on your belly :) In Norway shooting is actually the largest organized sport in the country, although football (soccer to you 'muricans reading this) fans will refuse to believe that and claim that the statistics are "flawed". Hunting is also an important reason for many people in my part of the world to own guns. As an example, in Norway, Sweden and Finland combined, hunters take nearly a quarter million moose per year. Hunting is absolutely necessary to control many animal populations, and we do eat what we shoot.
Self defence seems to be less important to most European gun owners than it is to Americans. Whether that is because we actually have less need to defend ourselves, or just believe we have less need, or whether it is the Americans who believe that they have more need to defend themselves than they actually do, that is another discussion.
Anyway, my point is to say that I think the difference between Americans and Europeans is smaller than a lot of people seem to believe. There are gun owners in varying numbers all over Europe (even in England, although they do not allow handguns). And Hollywood notwithstanding, Americans do not shoot each other all the time.
So, my American friends, maybe you are more like us spineless Euro-commies than you like to think... :D
April 27, 2003, 03:55 PM
it is not a question of possibility to choose but its the question why you did choose!
And the choice to own a gun is a sign of a free society?
April 27, 2003, 04:12 PM
Hmm, personal background, first I think you will see there isn't a typical firearms enthusiast/hobbyist.
Me, I am 32 years old and grew up in an upper-middle class, white collar (i.e. relatively well-off office workers) suburb of both Baltimore, MD and Washington DC (it is a little closer to Baltimore in distance but to DC socially). I went to both public and private schools (including 2 years at a top college prep Quaker high school) and grew up in an extremely liberal (left wing) family.
I was always intensely interested in the military and military history and that is where my interest in firearms probably began. I was first exposed to firearms at my paternal grandparents house droolling over grandpa's collection of hunting rifles and shotguns when I was about 7 but my parents would never let me touch them. I first truely handled a firearm when I got to Army Basic Training.
I let several years go by after that before I ever bought one.
I have had my degree in psychology for a few years now. I have worked in sales (before college), in banking (while in school), in management and I am currently a substitute teacher while I try to get into graduate school in school psychology. I am an Orthodox Jew (I was not raised as a religious Jew, I came to that as an adult).
I have owned guns for a few years now. I first came to simply be interested in informal target shooting but personal defense is also a high priority (having been jumped by 5 guys and sent to the emergency room a decade ago, having friends who have been robbed at gunpoint and having a friend whose uncle was murdered for simply walking down his street I am not one who falsely believes that things only happen to someone else- bad things can happen to all of us so it is best to be prepared).
Gun crimes simply reinforce the need to be prepared. Had a teacher or administrator or two at Columbine been armed it probably would have ended far earlier than it did with fewer children killed.
April 27, 2003, 04:18 PM
I was a late bloomer... I didn’t own my first gun until I was 30. The original motivation for me to buy a gun was simply to exercise my constitutional and inalienable right. I’ve since taken a couple of gun safety and training courses, am a member at a local range and am looking at my first hunt this coming season.
The responsibility, precision and overall awareness needed to be a responsible and able gun owner has added perspective to my 'world view'. I’m happy to have fallen into a hobby with so many facets and fine people involved.
April 27, 2003, 04:56 PM
Henrike, where are you from??
Why do you not want people to email you?
Are you from a Free country or a country that has been liberated from oppression?
Do You own a pistol or a rifle?? Do you understand that no war has ever been won in recent years without gunfire??
Do you wear anything made from the hide of animals, do You eat meat?
:what: Please answer honestly.
April 27, 2003, 05:00 PM
I didn't think it over a whole lot. Just like some people have bicycles, whether for practical reasons (transportation) or competition, or just to have around in case they need a bicycle.
In America we have the liberty to choose. And certainly don't want it taken away. We also don't like when we are limited in what we can choose, like the 'assault' weapon ban does.
As for columbine, I think it goes beyond having to stop the crime by shooting the criminals, though it couldv'e come to that. I think if the school had been armed (and our criminal justice system did a better job of punishing criminals) the crime most likely would have never happened. A lot of innocent students would be alive.
I certainly do not think more restrictions on personal gun ownership are the answer.
April 27, 2003, 05:07 PM
Well I use my firearms in many diffrent ways. I love to go to the range and shoot at targets. It is a great way to relax. I also enjoy hunting. I mostly hunt whitetail deer, however I am thinking about trying some varment hunting, and maybe some turkey. I also plan on doing some compitition with my hanguns.
I have been a gun owner on and off most of my life. The first time I ever held a gun I was probably about 2 or 3. I don't remember it, but I have seen a picture of my father helping me hold his shotgun. By this you may think I was raised pro gun and you would be partially right. My mom is scared of them, my father is one of those anti gun hunters. He thinks that the evil black guns are no gun but hunting firearms are ok. I am slowly converting him and my mother too. :D
I am 28yrs old. I was born in CNY and spent all of my life here. I was raised in a middle class home. I am an only child. My father has been a mechanic most of his life. My mother a teachers asst most of hers. I am also a mechanic. I work for the same school district that I attended most of my life. I have worked there 10yrs started out washing buses and worked my way up. Now I have an office my own computer with a T1 line:D , my own budget . I am also a computer geek. I like to build custom rigs and use relitivly excotic meathods of cooling. Basicly I am about your average American.
April 27, 2003, 05:32 PM
Welcome to The High Road, Henrike.
My own background: I had three older brothers who hunted, so I've been around guns since I was a baby. At age 13 I joined my school's rifle league (we shot at a range in the basement of the school!). After college I began buying guns both for self-defense as well as target shooting. I've found that target shooting is the one activity that will take my mind off of all the day's problems, because of the intense concentration required.
To answer your question about the choice of owning guns being the sign of a free society: absolutely. A government that is afraid to have its citizens armed is a government that's probably up to no good. Certainly many of us disagree with our government some or most of the time, but we have the means to change it. As a last resort, an armed citizenry has the power to change a government by force.
Unlike many nations, we haven't witnessed genocide being inflicted on our citizens by the government (some would argue that the killing of American Indians, Waco and the Benefits March prove otherwise). It would be near impossible for a Hitler/Pol Pot/Hussein/Stalin-style government to be instituted here, as the tyrant would be shot dead in a matter of weeks.
I hope this helps you in your quest for answers.
April 27, 2003, 05:33 PM
I grew up on a ranch in Wyoming.. I got my first rifle when I was 8 years of age.
My Dad taught me proper handling procedures and I hunted for food and shot pests that damaged feed.
I carried a gun on horse back and in my car during my teens and shot predators to protect the ranch and sold the hides for spending money.
After schooling I went in to Law enforcement and carried sidearms as a part of my job.
I am now back on the ranch and again the gun is a tool.
I use it to shoot predator and to put injured animals out of their pain.
The ranch is many miles from the nearest law enforcement agency and I am the law in some cases until the police arrive. On occasion I find poachers and rustlers or vandals and it is sometimes required to use firearms to control the situation until the police can arrive.
I have also found old muzzle loading guns as a hobby and this has taught me about my ancestors and the building of America..
I am not a wild and dangerous outlaw or a threat to my neighbors..
I am just and American who enjoys being able to own, shoot, and enjoy the skills and responsibilties of a gun owner and citizen..
Here is a link to my web page. It might give you a little more insight into a modern cowboy and rancher, and gun owner.
Good luck with your report..
April 27, 2003, 09:56 PM
A little background about me:
I am 34, married, with a baby daughter. I grew up in a middle class Jewish home which unusually, was filled with guns. :) I have an bachelor's degree in History-Politics, a Law degree, and now work as a system engineer for a large Internet Service Provider. (Computers are much more fun to deal with than other lawyers.)
I started shooting with airguns as a child under my dad's supervision. At first, I did it because it was challenging and fun. I still shoot for these reasons, but I also developed an intense interest in the history of military technology, and it's a lot easier to own a gun than a fighter airplane or a tank.
My other motivation for owning guns is for defense of self, family, and home. As a father and husband, I have the responsibility to defend my wife and child should anyone attempt to do them harm. Aside from that, members of my family were killed in the Holocaust and various pogroms merely because they were Jewish. I've also visited Dachau and seen the ovens and the "showers." I take "Never Again" very seriously. Should any demagogue seek to harm Jews in the US, harsh language won't dissuade his followers. Armed, resolute Jews will.
As for school shootings: Sick, demented people did them, not their guns. The guns were only tools. Why is it that whenever there's a slashing attack nobody talks about banning knives?
April 27, 2003, 10:35 PM
I'm primarily a hand-gunner. I shoot because it's extremely difficult to shoot well.
I keep guns to protect my home and carry guns to protect my life, but it's very unlikely I'll ever need to do either.
Welcome to America!
April 27, 2003, 11:50 PM
Welcome to The High Road, Henrike.
I am 25, I grew up in a house with nine brothers and sisters, we weren't poor but we weren't well off either. I really wasn't exposed to guns much when I was younger. I don't hunt but some day I probably will. I bought my first gun when I was 20 for home defense. I own guns because they are fun, and they are also a useful tool for protection, I also like to tinker with mechanical things.
About gun ownership = free society, I think that free, law-abiding people should be able to own (and have the right to own) any type of gun, or any other weapon that they want to. A government that is afraid of it's citizens being armed, is up to no good.
The incident at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado did not change how I felt about firearms ownership. I think that what those two thugs did was absolutely wrong, and the people that they killed did not deserve to die. I don't know what caused them to do this, but it was NOT the guns. Guns do NOT get up and kill people on their own.
Oh, my occupation. I'm a heavy equipment operator, plumber, truck driver, snow plow driver, etcetera for a small town government in Maryland.
April 28, 2003, 12:22 AM
I fired my first rifle at YMCA summer camp at the age of ten.
I owned an air rifle after that until I turned thirteen, at which time my father gave me my first .22 rifle. Dad grew up on a farm surrounded by guns. He kept the barn free of rats by shooting them from his second story bedroom window.
I bought my first handgun, a revolver, when I turned twenty-one. From then on I guess you could say I became addicted to the hobby.
Firearms are rich in history. Firearms have been an integral part of the history of the United States. Perhaps half of my rifle collection served in the armed forces of several countries, some allied, some enemy.
Our country is a country of citizen soldiers. It began when ordinary farmers and tradesmen took up their privately owned militia weapons and started a revolution that gained us our freedom and independance from a monarchy.
Even though I am retired from active military and law enforcement service, I still feel it my civic duty to be prepared to defend my home, my neighborhood, my community, and country from lawlessness, riot, and foreign invader.
Unlike Great Britain which had to beg for small arms from this country at the beginning of World War II, most communities in the United States have enough privately owned firearms in their homes to arm every able and willing adult if an emergency requires it.
Is that why I keep firearms? Waiting for that terrible day that may never come? No. I enjoy training to develop the skill to be an accomplished marksman. I enjoy all the side hobbies that derive from being skilled in arms, like reloading my own ammunition, modifying and customizing my weapons, and being in the outdoors.
I think it is the nature of man to be really good and skilled at something. Some take up woodworking. Some, gardening. Some, fine automobiles. I particularly enjoy firearms and shooting. It has been my pleasure and hobby for forty-three years and I can't imagine ever becoming bored or tired of it.
Thanks for asking, Henrike. I hope you will the the answers you seek here.
April 28, 2003, 12:55 AM
I'm in my early 30s (is that Generation X?), married, with two kids (my 4-year-old boy had his second heart surgery in January, <http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?s=&threadid=3448>). I and my wife are both college graduates, and I'm employed as a science editor by a publisher of school textbooks.
I received my first gun (a Daisy BB gun) when I was 6 years old or so, barely old enough to work the lever myself to load and cock it. After several years and tens of thousands of rounds, it finally wore out and I graduated to a .22 rifle and .22 pistol. While I was a teenager, a former police officer and friend of my dad's noticed my interest in guns and suggested I join the NRA as a way to learn more about them (NRA has a really neat magazine, _American Rifleman_). I did, read a lot on the subject, and became a better shot than my dad. :D
I got my first military-caliber rifle in 1989 (I think), a Ruger mini-14, in response to the hysteria that followed the Stockton, California shooting in 1989. I've customized it since with a pistol-grip stock (think AR-15 wannabe), and am eagerly awaiting the (hoped-for) repeal of the 'Assault Weapons Ban' so I can fit a stock that folds for storage.
I don't know what country you're from, but I also have an M39 rifle from Finland (originally manufactured in 1905 in Russia and rebarreled in Finland at VKT in 1942) that may have seen action in the Finnish secession and definitely saw action in World War 2.
My wife is also a gun owner and shooter, and we are both licensed to carry concealed handguns for defensive purposes (S&W 3913LS 9mm for me, Glock 26 9mm for her).
My other hobbies include playing the guitar, physics, and sailing. I also love horses, cats, and English literature. (My name on this board is an allusion to a Robert Browning poem, if you're interested.)
Thanks for asking!
April 28, 2003, 01:29 AM
My father and grandfather raised me around firearms. As a boy they taught me about safety, and among other outdoor activites, like camping, hiking, fishing, etc, we went hunting. In the Boy Scouts, we also would target shoot.
Later in life, I joined the US Army, and served as an infantryman. As you might imagine, this job involved almost daily handling of firearms. I now own several guns, and I love to shoot them, although I haven't gone hunting in some time. I now realize that guns are not just for recreation, and they are not only for military use, but are used most importanly for self-defense. It is every human's right to defend his family, property, and self.
Having guns around, and learning to handle them safely, has taught me to not fear them. As the old saying goes "we fear that which we do not understand." I believe this fearful ignorance is the reason for so much anti-gun bias. People who are unfamiliar with guns and gun safety, see them as "dangerous" objects. In truth, a gun is like any other object, and is only as dangerous as its user.
April 28, 2003, 06:57 AM
There are two basic reasons for firearm ownership, one happy and one serious.
Happy: Shooting is fun. Hunting is fun. There are many ways to enjoy guns even when not shooting: handloading, collecting, building or repairing. A fine firearm is a very beautiful thing. Shooting sports can get you into some very interesting company, as you're finding out now.
Serious: there are two aspects. First, self-defense. We can debate all day about how much any individual needs a weapon for self-defense, but overall there can be no denying that crimes do occur and it is better to be able to defend oneself. Second, and more political, and the main reason that owning arms is enshrined in our nation's founding document, Americans believe that we have the right to control our government. And to remove it if it refuses to obey us. And to remove it by force if it resists. We see armed citizens as the final control on government. And as long as we have final control on our government, we are free.
It has been argued that civilians could never resist the military power of our government, but there are many historical examples of people doing just that: Afghanistan vs Soviets, American colonists vs British Empire, Warsaw Jews vs Nazis. A determined civilian 'army' can make it very costly for a government army, and often can delay the government army long enough for some other factor (such as outside help, as the US provided in Afghanistan) to intervene and make the contest more even. In Northern Iraq, the Kurds might have defeated Saddam after the 1991 Gulf War if President GHW Bush had suported them. Not that it was necessary for American soldiers to get into the fight, just that we could have supplied the Kurds and hampered Saddam's maneuvers. Much as Hessian and French military support helped the Americans defeat Britain.
This last reason is the only really important one, and it is why firearm ownership is such a political issue here. Because the firearm is the ultimate political tool of a people who wish to remain free.
Hope that helps.
April 28, 2003, 07:21 AM
Welcome to THR, henrike! :D:D:D
Reading these quotes from notable personalities may help explain to you how and why firearms owned by responsible civilians represent freedom not only in America but in our country as well... ;)
Hope this helps ;)
April 28, 2003, 08:12 AM
Greeting's From The U.S.A.-
Your question should be placed in the "tall order section";
but I will try to explain-
You see, my love and association with firearms began at
a very early age; possibly 8 or 9 years old, when a friend
carried several of us youngster's down to the Cahaba
River bank in Jefferson county Alabama.
It was kind'a like a camping trip of sort's, with all the
modern day accesory's. There we were introduced to
a handgun. And if memory serves me correctly,
it was a 4" barrel Smith & Wesson model 34 .22 caliber
"Kit-Gun". Being that this was everyone's first ever
experience with a handgun; none of us were really
that good a shot!:uhoh: We plinked away at "junk"
floating down stream for the better part of the after
noon.:) I personally throughly enjoyed the experience,
and have never forgotten the details surrounding this
Progress to 21 years of age; newly wed to a lovely bride
from the mountains (and woods) of east Tennessee. I
again was introduced to numerous firearms (handguns,
rifles, and shotguns) owned by my new brother-in-law,
and father-in-law. In particular old Colt revolver's, and
L.C. Smith shotguns. Here again, it was love at first
Not having a very good job at the time, I hastily went
to our old K-Mart store and purchased an 8-shot, .22
caliber Arminus revolver, for the sum of $42.50. Really
thinking that I had done well with my purchase, I then
proceeded to the firing range (actually and old dump).
There I met these cat's that had an arsenal of weapons,
including a S&W model 27-2 with 3.5" barrel, a Ruger
.30 caliber carbine pistol with a 7.5 in barrel, and an
old Colt simply marked "Colt .357 magnum" with a
4" barrel. These guys being nice and friendly, let
me shoot the S&W; and I have never looked back-
as I was hooked!:uhoh:
When I got to the house, I informed my wife that I
needed a quality handgun. She says "what for"?
After a very lengthy discussion, she agrees. So,
my next stop is at our local sporting goods store!
Whereas I purchased a NIB Smith & Wesson model
57 .41 magnum; with all the bells and whistles. Now,
I'm ready to shoot with my bud's, at the old dump.
Only thing, the cost of .41 magnum ammo was very
expensive; at least for this ole po' boy.:(
To wrap up, the LOVE and ASSOCIATION with this
type of weaponary has NEVER ceased. Now at 56
years of age, and literally thousands of dollar's
lighter in the wallet; I'm on top of my game. As any
good shooter's know; I'm always constantly trying
to improve upon my scores. One can debate over
revolvers or semi-automatic self loaders
all day long; as there is NO END in sight. But you
know what? I like 'em both; and shoot both equally!
Hope this "book" helps you understand our AMERICAN
heritage, and way of life; here in the good old U.S. of A.
Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member
April 28, 2003, 08:40 AM
Wow, you asked the question that can be approached in soooo many ways.
Usually, I give the short answer:
and follow up with a statement along the lines of "It's reasonable to have more fear of a spoon in the hand of a criminal, than a howitzer in the hand of an honest man".
The deeper reasons need a lot more explaining, I guess.
For me, beyond the obvious utility of defense and fun, it is an extension of who I am, and what I've been able to work out about humans and their place in the universe. I could fill a book, but all flows from some very basic first principles:
-Inherent in my existence is the right to defend that existense.
-I have the right to select, keep, and use whatever personal tools are relevant to that end.
The next topic that is relevant is the relationship of the individual compared to society.
-All societies and polities are man made things, and therefore:
-Society has not collective rights or perogatives that are not derived from individual rights or perogatives.
-Any "annointed" source of authority, governmental, religious, or societal is to some extent a confidence game, and I see through it.
To some extent, weapons are about power, and power can be used nobly, or corruptly. By accepting the responsibility of weapons ownership, I empower myself, against those who corruptly prefer to gain power at my expense.
And finally, I own weapons to preserve this basic right for all future generations to come. If corrupt men band together to take them away, legally or extra legally, they will HAVE TO COME AND TAKE THEM. In this fascist/nazi scenario, it rules out for them the possibility that one man with a pistol will be able to go door to door disarming the public. They will have to send lots of men, with lots of equipment.
Now, depending on the circumstances, I may or may not choose to resist, but I reserve the right to do so if I determine that it would be just, and beyond that, I have the means of so doing.
The simple fact that I own a small number of military quality firearms significantly raises the bar of effort that such forces of darkness must muster to even contemplate such a move.
You see, weapons ownership is a "tripwire". Before significant evil can be visited upon the people, they must first be disarmed, and their means of resistance stripped from them. Check out the 100 million plus folks systematically slaughtered in the 20th century, and ask a simple yes/no question:
Where these people disarmed first? (The answer: ayep)
April 28, 2003, 08:42 AM
Hi henrike! Like M67, I'm not an American either, but I'll answer anyway. Maybe you can expand your essay to say something about gun ownership in other countries as well? :)
I am a 28 year old Norwegian male, just about getting ready to deliver my master thesis in applied mathematics. I now live in Oslo, but I grew up on an island slightly more in the south of Norway.
I first started shooting when my father bought me an air rifle when I was about 10 or 11. It was a great source of fun to us both, and we spent many summer nights in our large garden shooting at differnt types of targets. It was the only gun we owned. In the winter, we would make a temporary shooting range in our cellar, about 10m long, and I would practice my skills, steadily improving as a shooter. When I became a teenager, suddenly a lot of other things started to be more important to me, and I didn't do a lot of shooting for many years.
At my university, there is an academic shooting club practicing both rifle and pistol shooting. Remembering the fun I had in my youth, I dropped by one day to check it out, and it was still every bit as enjoyable. I am now the president of the club, and I enjoy every aspect of the shooting sport. Most of the time I just practice and compete with myself, trying to improve myself, but I also enjoy travelling to competitions with friends. Last year I participated in the national "field target" championship in the revolver class, and I'm very proud of my 150th place :D . I also help to hold courses for new shooters at my club, hoping others will get as much pleasure from the sport as I.
I feel that being free is the most important part of living in a free country :) Being free means many, many things, and yes, I believe the right to own a gun is one of those things.
Good luck with your essay!
April 28, 2003, 09:19 AM
Well since its an essay maybe a reference source or two could help since it'll add balance with objectivity.
Maybe you could say that some people have chosen to carry since its 'against the law'. What is 'the law'?
IMO, its a declaration of war against the citizens of America.
Another useful and enlightening site;
In the meantime, guns are fun and like an insurance policy that pays dividends through fun and practicality.
April 28, 2003, 09:25 AM
Most of the reasone I own and enjoy guns have been covered in the replies above.
I'd just emphasize that the Right to keep and bear arms is enumerated by the Second Article in our U.S. Bill of Rights.
It is an 'unalienable' right, not subject to political expediency or arguments of social utility. It is your right also, even though your government may not recognize so.
I am 54, began shooting with my father's rifle over a kitchen chair at the age of 5. We owned a small farm in Indiana, and as I grew up my love of shooting and firearms also grew. I served in the U.S. Army as a small-arms repairman, graduated university and mover to the American west before emigrating to New Zealand and then on to Australia, which is currently my home.
The events at Columbine High School, like those in Germany, were perpetrated by deranged individuals and ought to be treated as the exceptions which they are. Millions of people all around the world use firearms safely everyday. Nations such as Australia are misguided in their attempts to outlaw the ownership of firearms by lawful individuals, as these laws have not been of use in reducing homicides anywhere they have been implemented. They disarm the lawful people, but not criminals.
April 28, 2003, 09:49 AM
Henrike, where are you from?? Why do you not want people to email you? Are you from a Free country or a country that has been liberated from oppression? Do You own a pistol or a rifle?? Do you understand that no war has ever been won in recent years without gunfire?? Do you wear anything made from the hide of animals, do You eat meat?
many questions but simple answeres:
I'm from Germany!
And because of the opposit opinions of our state rulers in Iraq war I did not want to know you where I come from, perhaps you would have answered in a different way or do not have an open mind.
And I do not want to receive mails because I do not know the people here, how they might react, maybe I would receive mail-bombs, who knows?
As I said before: I don't own a pistol or rifle.
And please let us not discuss about war, this is not the topic.
And I'm not a vegetarian.... But this is also off - topic.
Back to my question: Does everyone think that Littleton was a necessary misfortune and could only have been prevented if the adults there would have been armed?
April 28, 2003, 10:17 AM
could have been prevented if the perpetrators' parents had been paying more attention to what their kids were doing...
could have been prevented if the school officials had noted the activities of the perpetrators with more care...
could have been prevented if the fellow students of the perpetrators had taken their threats seriously and reported them to school officials...
could have been prevented if there were metal detectors at every entrance to the school...
could have been prevented by the presence of an armed teacher or guard...
could NOT have been prevented by yet another anti-gun law.
The perpetrators violated several laws, among them: having guns on the school grounds, being in possession of illegally-obtained (by straw-purchase) firearms, setting up explosive devices on school property, possession of illegally shortened shotgun, and of course, by killing their fellow students.
To be blunt, Henrike, the perpetrators were murderers and criminals, not law-abiding citizens...they would not have obeyed any 'gun law'.
April 28, 2003, 10:18 AM
Does everyone think that Littleton was a necessary misfortune and could only have been prevented if the adults there would have been armed?
It was not necessary. The primary cause was deviancy on the part of the perpetrators. That may or may not have been preventable. Contribuiting, aggravating causes included the official promise in the form of the law which prohibited carry of defensive arms by responsible, lawful adults and students. That law guaranteed to the murderers that every lawful person on site will be disarmed and that they will be in control of the place until police shows up. In reality, police officer was present and ran away after the initial exchange of fire.
So, in summary, Littleton was not necessary and that's what makes it so aggravating -- we view it as a direct, predictable consequence of the un-fulfillable promise of "gun-free schools". The statement "don't harm me, I am unarmed" is nothing more than a statment confirming that it is safe to harm the person saying such a thing.
April 28, 2003, 10:27 AM
Hello, Henrike. I've enjoyed the discussion on this thread so far, and I hope it's giving you food for thought. I'd like to comment on your last question, and perhaps change direction a bit, because your question is not so much about guns as about human nature. You asked:Does everyone think that Littleton was a necessary misfortune and could only have been prevented if the adults there would have been armed?Littleton was NOT a "gun" problem, or a "gun" crime: it was a HUMAN crime. The two murderers brought guns with them, sure, and used them: but they also brought a large number of home-made bombs, one of which was subsequently determined by investigators to be so powerful that it could have posed a threat to low-flying aircraft overhead if it had exploded. Fortunately, the two criminals did not know enough about explosives to make reliable fuses and detonators, so that the bombs mostly did not explode.
Guns were simply a tool used to commit evil at Littleton. A tool has no mind or moral consciousness of its own: it is inert, unthinking, and can be used for good or evil. Let me give you an example. An air pump for car tires at the local gas station can be used for its intended purpose - raising the air pressure in your tires. It can also be used as a weapon of murder - I had a friend who was killed in this way, with the air pump inserted into his rectum. The pressure destroyed many of his internal organs, and he died in great pain and suffering. Was the air pump "guilty" of his death? Because it was used for evil, did it become something evil itself? Of course not! It was - and is - purely an instrument, and the choice of whether to use it for good or evil belonged to its user, not to the instrument itself.
How could Littleton have been stopped? I can think of several ways. Firstly, if the teachers and other responsible individuals in the school had been armed, they would have been able to resist murder with legitimate, legal, justifiable violence of their own. It might not have saved all the victims of this tragedy, but would probably have saved some. Secondly, the two murderers had given many signs of being disturbed, perhaps mentally unbalanced individuals. If those around them had paid more attention to these signs - and particularly if they had reported them to those able to do something about them - the entire tragedy might have been prevented. Thirdly, if the parents of these two criminals had taken greater care of their firearms, locking them in a secure gunsafe whenever they were not around to directly supervise their use, this would have made the Littleton affair much more difficult.
Let me give you another example from a different country. I was born and brought up in South Africa, where, as you probably know, between 1976 and 1994 we had an eighteen-year period of civil unrest so violent, savage and vicious that it was virtually a civil war. This was the final struggle to get rid of apartheid, the policy of racial discrimination practised by the White government there. Something like 100,000 people died in this conflict - we shall never know exactly how many, because so many simply "disappeared", with their fates forever unknown. Atrocities and barbarities were perpetrated by all sides - the Government fomented inter-tribal and inter-group conflict on the principle of "divide and rule", and murdered thousands of innocent citizens caught in crossfire, or kidnapped for interrogation. The so-called "liberation movements" ("terrorists" to others) in their turn murdered thousands of their political opponents in other movements, and exerted a "rule by terror" over many areas. Guns were used by both sides, but the guns themselves were not guilty of the murders and atrocities they were used to perpetrate - rather, those who wielded them were the guilty parties.
I buried 27 friends in that conflict. None of them were active participants in the fighting. Almost all of them (including myself) were trying to help the victims of violence and unrest. As a result, we became targets for both sides: the Government didn't want anyone seeing what they were doing, and reporting it, and the "guerillas" (to use a politically neutral term) did not want the people whom they were ruling by terror to have any hope, any expectation of a way out. We paid in blood for what we were doing - but that doesn't mean that it was any less worth doing. I didn't blame guns for killing my friends: rather, I thank God that I was able to carry a gun for my own defence. In spite of repeated injuries, I am only alive today because I was able to deter, defend myself against, and - when necessary - stop, those trying to kill me. A gun also helped me, several times, to defend and protect those working with me, and the victims of violence we were trying to assist.
I'm a Christian pastor now, and serve as Chaplain in a maximum-security prison. Every day, I'm surrounded by men convicted of murder, rape, drug-smuggling, terrorism, and brutality of every kind. I often talk to them about their crimes, and their future, and try to help them change their lives. (It's a losing battle in most cases... I would guesstimate that if I can reach one in ten of these men, I'm doing very well indeed! Most of them fear neither God nor the Devil...) However, virtually all of them do say one very interesting thing - their greatest fear, in their criminal activity, is to encounter an armed citizen who is prepared, willing and able to defend him- or herself. The most profound argument I've found in favor of having a gun is that it gives you this ability to deter - and, if necessary, stop - criminals who have targeted you as a potential victim. I think that if those who oppose personal gun ownership could spend a day or two among these criminals, hearing what they've done (and believe me, the details would sicken you - after many years of working with such men, I can still be nauseated listening to one of them describe his crimes, and have to exert enormous self-control not to do something drastic!), I think they would run screaming to the nearest gunshop to buy something appropriate for their defence.
And yes, even as a pastor, I still own and carry firearms. I see no moral objection to defending myself against evil, and have done so on several occasions since becoming a pastor. Working with the criminal element of society as I do, one becomes a target for attempts at manipulation, threats, and other undesirable things. I have no intention of allowing those threatening me to get away with any attempt to implement their threats! In fact, a number of police, corrections officers, etc. find me a useful and valuable friend and colleague, precisely because I've been shot myself, and have shot others. When those who protect and defend our society have to use their weapons, all too often they find themselves misunderstood, even rejected, by the society they are sworn to serve. I'm here for them, as one who truly understands, having "been there and done that", and they are grateful. I, too, am grateful that guns have helped to keep these good men and women alive, have stopped the criminal career of so many, and are to this day a valuable (and sometimes indispensable) aid to keeping us safe from those who regard us merely as prey to be hunted.
I hope this rather long screed helps. God bless.
April 28, 2003, 10:52 AM
Back to my question: Does everyone think that Littleton was a necessary misfortune and could only have been prevented if the adults there would have been armed?
Only the parents of the shooters could have prevented the tragedy at Littleton from happening. This is one of the biggest problems today. Parents are not involved in their children's lives and are not giving them proper guidance.
School violence is a major problem. In Germany, I would expect that you only hear about the shootings. However, the injuries to children cause by school shootings is insignificant compared to injuries and deaths caused by other weapons in our schools. Some schools in New York City are so bad that teachers quit their jobs in fear for their lives. Robbery and rapes are common place. It is a very sad situation.
However, New York City, and a handful of other major cities like it such as Los Angeles, are exceptions. The majority of our schools are safe.
Students with guns are frequently found in New York City schools, and gun violence is a major problem with gangs in Los Angeles. But these two cities have some of the most restrictive gun laws in our country. Other than the people I meet at the shooting range, I never come across another person that owns guns. Gun ownership is very rare in New York City. Yet students have guns. I know that the guns don't come from the students' parents, so they must come from someplace else. Also, criminals can get guns easily. The fact is that gun laws have fail to protect students, as well as the general population. The reason is clear. Guns are not the problem. Parents are the problem.
April 28, 2003, 12:13 PM
The "why" hardly matters. My reasons are similar to the others posted here.
What is important is that a society allows a citizen to have such a choice. You are likely not familiar with the American euphemism of the "Canary in the coal mine". Canaries were once kept in coal mines to detect poisonous gas. Birds are far more sensitive to gas than humans, so if the canary died it was time to get out!
Gun ownership is the "canary in the coal mine" of good government, the first right to be extinguished when the swing to authoritarianism begins.
A much better question would be to ask "why not", in nations which deny gun ownership.
April 28, 2003, 12:26 PM
"why not" is the wrong direction (perhaps I can imagine why, but that's not for discussion)!
April 28, 2003, 12:41 PM
"why not" is the wrong direction
Maybe not, if it pertains to whether gun ownership should be allowed or not.
There are, I feel, two different approaches to making laws: Either you need to argue why something should be allowed, or you need to argue why something should not be allowed. I am a big fan of the latter. In the name of freedom, the burden of proof should lie on those wishing to ban gun ownership.
Gun ownership is the "canary in the coal mine" of good government
Too true. Unfortunately, there are whole lot of dead canaries around. Our Norwegian canary has developed a nasty cough, and it doesn't look well at all. I think it must have cought it from one of those European birdies that were buried in the backyard last week, they still reeked of whatever killed them. What was that? I thought I heard a sneeze from the birdcage flying the Stars and Stripes. I think you better have that checked out ...
April 28, 2003, 12:59 PM
Hi Henrike, welcome to the boards.
I grew up a Navy brat, lived overseas for about 14 months and all over the US West Coast.
While I played with cap guns and such as a kid, we didn't have a gun in the house as far as I knew. Dad had a service revolver, but if he stored it at home, we kids never knew it and if we did, we would have been taught it was not a toy the same way his cermonial swords were not to be touched or played with.
I didn't get into shooting until after I married when I was in my 30's. Hubby wanted a pistol and he bought one from a friend who had a pawn shop. We drove home with this pistol in my lap, me crying all the way home. Why? I've never quite figured that one out, I really didn't want a gun in the house, even tho I had never been taught that guns were "bad". I just wasn't happy about having one in the house (keep in mind now that I had enough swords, knives and other sharp pointies I loved to collect that would keep a barbarian warlord happy hehehehe I had absolutely no problems with having self-defense weapons in the house).
Fast forward a couple of months and I came home from work extremely cranky and pissed off. Normally I would head straight for the computer to play Quake or Doom or some other shoot'em up or hack and slash game to provide stress relief. This time, rather then breaking another keyboard I told my hubby to take me out and let me shoot the real thing. I was hooked. Shooting a real gun with real ammo wasn't as bad as I had imagined and I turned out to be a pretty decent shooter.
I'm now into Cowboy Action Shooting and have taken up hunting. I own more guns then hubby (okay, granted several of them he bought for himself and I've declared them mine :D hehehehe) and wouldn't mind expanding my collection.
April 28, 2003, 01:00 PM
it is not a question of possibility to choose but its the question why you did choose!Everyone has their Thing. For some people it might be motorcycles, for others, guitars, or martial arts, or sailboats, or yoga, or whatever. For me, it's guns. There is not really a "why" to it; guns are simply my Thing. There is just nothing else that holds the same fascination for me, and it was been this way for as long as I can remember.
April 28, 2003, 01:22 PM
Mp partner (Susan) and I study both armed and unarmed self-defense. At our level of martial arts training, it is glaringly obvious that firearms are a requirement to a comprehensive plan.
Susan grew up in a remote area of Colorado, where subsistence hunting was a way of life when snow closed the high passes for months on end every year. Her proficiency with both shotgun and rifle earned her numerous trophies in regional competition during the warmer months as a teenager.
Originally from Alaska, I did experience going to high school in the Los Angeles area of California during the Watts Riots. I saw firsthand the reality of mob rule, where the unarmed were openly and readily victimized, where law enforcement was completely ineffective. . . As an adult, I survived extreme violence for being openly gay - and I did not carry a handgun at that time. My abilities with martial arts were readily overwhelmed (though my training has progressed far since then, I would still know great risk in similar circumstances were I to again face those events were I to be unarmed!). I have been raped twice, and simply beaten severely on three other occasions, left for dead once.
When Susan left the mountains and moved to the Denver area in search of work, her father gave her his WWII 1911 Colt .45 for protection, and she successfully defeated home invasion/rapists on two separate occasions (both without killing or wounding the attackers: once, the mere sight of the semi-auto sent one adult leaping from a second story window in fear, dropping the butcher knife; the second time, a warning shot deterred two intruders who were held for law enforcement without further ado).
We both love to shoot, enjoying the sport and necessary skill level required to be absolutely safe as well as wonderfully accurate with quality firearms. We view defensive handgun training to be a natural compliment to our unselfconscious lives, where we live without hesitation or inhibition from the social predator or the sociopath or the demonstrably predispositioned violent homophobe. We both have extensive formal training in firearms use and the applicable civil and criminal law that pertains to said skills set, and carry concealed handguns legally with State issued permits (though we both loathe hte concept that an inherent human right can/must be legislated/regulated by any civil bureaucracy).
I think we both see our combined skills set as a minimum prerequisite to living as conscionable, self-reliant adults, comensurate with our responsibilities as citizens of the Republic, voters, and active members of our community - as well as role-models and teachers to the generations who will ably inheret our places in society when we retire.
Columbine? Much apt, clear, and worthy commentary has been already written on that incident in this thread. As you imply but do not define your area of residence/citizenship beyond one of being beyond our borders, I ponder your comprehension of the remarkable vastness of the United States, both geographically as well as well as a compendum of sociological and geo-political forces, from the eastern urbanite residing in a megalopolis to the plains farming communities, to the southern and western states, where both the spoken accent as well as the climatological conditions necessitate intellectual resources and a different palate!
Here follows an excerpt from a posting I made in the aftermath of Columbine:
14 Oct 1999
I'm a middle-aged housewife, receiving permanent disability, living quietly in
the mountains of Park County, Colorado. My name is Trisha.
Time has passed, and the media's feeding frenzy has abated a little. Maybe my voice can be heard
now, as I am surely among the least visible and
politically potent in many things.
If there were to be a more lucid and graphic demonstration of the social mechanics of a disarmed
society (that being one where only criminals and vested authority posessed firearms) for the
apathetic to examine, it escapes me. Frightened teenagers and their authority figures, the faculty,
numbering collectively in their hundreds were completely cowed and terrorised by two
Civil authority was summoned, and in their great might (with advanced martial training, and
dramatic state-of-the-art weaponry), acted within their conditioning and authority structure's
And the unbridled, empowering reign of terror within continued; the huddled, powerless, weeping
throng praying and begging for rescue by others whom they had been taught would protect them.
Thirty years of the victim mentality bore a bountiful harvest that day. Mass media quickly averted
its' viewfinder from the wholesale slaughter waiting in the wings: The propane bombs didn't
detonate. Professional mental health counsellors were provided by civil authority to absolve the
fear and helplessness carried by so many.
My revulsion for the coherent demonstration of contemporary society and the "victim mentality"
overwhelmed me for a time. The triumph of the control to glorify and empower a mindset of
helplessness in the presence of fiends bent on wholesale slaughter sickened me. Even without
firearms, the hundreds found no "Iron blood of courage" that day.
I vote. I lawfully own and carry and regularly practice with firearms. In the acutely limited sphere
of social contact I interact with, I advocate awareness on second ammendment issues including
right-to-carry legislation. I encourage people to investigate self-defense, and the related issues of
our government being the servant to the populace, and answerable for its' actions.
Columbine embodied the agonies waiting for all of us (and all of our futures) if, in all of our
diversity, we fail to effectively deliver and demonstrate the worth of self-defense, courage, and
social responsibility as truly viable and durable and worthy traits of a caring and active and
Henrike, I have enjoyed the opportunity to correspond with some respondents from Europe on the issue of firearms, and I have found some consistency with what seems to be a dependence by said people to almost secularly follow and singularly believe 'what they are told/what they read,' versus what they can avail of themselves to learn independently of any commerce-driven or politically motivated/sponsored mass media outlet of convenience. I applaud you for your presence here, and your query!
April 28, 2003, 01:43 PM
Why do I choose to have firearms?
For defense. If someone breaks into my house and has a gun, I need one to protect my family. If no criminals had guns (miracle!) and that same criminal only has a knife, I still need a gun to protect my family. The saying is "Never bring a knife to a gunfight"
The Littleton questions.
One of your posts mentioned did the Littleton event change my opinion. Well, no it did not. However it did show to me how just an armed person could have helped end the massacre more quickly. And here in America, we try very hard not to pass laws as a REACTION to events like that. It still happens and we get bad laws. Like after the one that happened in Scottland. There was a huge media frenzy and the UK passed new laws that made everyone turn in many of their firearms to the goverment. Now crime in England is going up and up and up. Robberies of homes are up (because the criminal knows that homeowner has no gun).
Emotional events like Littleton generate many calls to ban firearms from people that do not understand their use or history of our country. But doing so endangers all of us because criminals do not obey these laws...THIS IS THE IMPORTANT PART... The laws of the United States, Germany, or elsewhere, only apply to certain people. There is always a small percentage that do not obey any law you make, thus you need to protect against them. The only absolute way to do that is to learn how to use a firearm, and be able to use it when needed.
I could go on much longer.......
April 28, 2003, 02:07 PM
Yes, American Canaries are quite unwell in a number of states, while in others he is happy and flourishing. It's a constant battle to keep the canary healthy!
As to my personal "why" ...
Some of my guns are hunting arms. I live in Alaska and hunt for most of the year.
Others are self-defense arms that I carry or keep in my home for that purpose.
Some are collectables, kept (and shot) for the pleasure of reliving another era. Sometimes it's enough just to hold such a item in your hand, to admire the art and craftsmanship that our ancestors were capable of.
Other guns are purely recreational, shot for the challenge of hitting a target at whatever distance the gun is designed to shoot. It's just as much (or more) fun to "ring a gong" at five hundred yards with a FAL, as it is to make tough shot in pool, or sink a basket from mid-court.
I was raised in a gun culture. I was given an air gun at 6 or 7. My first shotgun at the age of 12.
Firearms have given me pleasure, put food on my table and protected me all of my life. I would give up my right arm before I would give up the right to own firearms.
This is something that was passed down to me by my ancestors and I am passing it to my own children. The attached picture is my son Connor at the age of six with his first deer.
April 28, 2003, 02:35 PM
In answer to your questions, I am 29, married for almost 4 years, have 1 child born 11-1-1.
I own guns for the following reasons in order of importance to me. 1. To protect myself and my family. 2. To deter crime. (the more gun owners out there the lower crime will be. Not an opinion, a fact) 3. They are fun to shoot. 4. For hunting. 5. To help keep my government in check.
A lot of things may have detered Columbine. First and foremost in my opinion is proper parenting. If it's ingrained in the child's head that murder is wrong, they won't murder. I also think if all the school staff were armed, then the death toll would have been significantly lower.
I view an armed society kind of like a special game of chess. Pretend all the pieces can only move 1 space, and each piece is an individual person, that values their life, and therefore don't want to be placed in check, or suffer any bodily harm. An attacking peice can not put you in check without placing itself in check. Take away the guns from law abiding citizens, and only the criminals will have guns. Then they are free to move themselves in check because their opponent will have no means to defend themselves. When everybody has guns, it puts everyone on an equal playing ground.
And lastly inanimate objects do not have the ability to do harm. They need a person to operate them. If we are to blame obects for doing evil deeds, then let's start blaming stairs, or pools, or cars for all the deaths they cause every year.
April 28, 2003, 02:47 PM
Hello and welcome to The High Road.
I am 22 years old.
I have always loved guns. Most boys in America play with toy guns. I was no different.
In America you must be at least 21 years old to purchase a handgun, and 18 years old to purchase long guns. (Rifles and shotguns.)
After I turned 21, I realized that I was now able to buy guns.
So I bought a Beretta 96 and a Mossberg pump-action 12 gauge shotgun.
I have always loved Berettas (due to their popularity in the movies, and in some of my favorite movies, I'll admit) and I've always loved shotguns too.
If you have ever heard the sound of a 12 gauge action working, you'll know what I mean. :D
I am a member of bladeforums.com (a cool knife site!) and found TFL (and then THR obviously) through bladeforums.
I have since purchased a Stainless Beretta 96, a Glock 27 and a Glock 30.
Why did I first purchase guns?
As I said above, I have always loved guns and because I can. Because it is my right to.
Why do I and will I continue to purchase guns?
I almost consider it more of a duty and a responsibility than a right, which means it is a choice. I feel it is my job to protect myself and my family, and if it came to it, my country.
Regarding Columbine, I'll just ask you this henrike:
When there is an automobile accident, are the cars at fault, or are the drivers of the cars at fault?
April 28, 2003, 03:29 PM
Hi Henrike, I'm not from the USA either, I'm one of the few European members of THR. Like yourself, I'm from Germany.
I was born in '71 and my experience with guns was limited to my father's airrifle until I joined the army at age 19. There I was trained to shoot assault rifles, pistols and machine guns. Contrary to what some people who are opposed to guns think, I never saw them as symbols of power (or machismo). Maybe because of my interest in mechanics I've always seen them as inanimate objects, tools of some kind and trade, not much different from a power drill, just with different abilities and purposes. Unlike most of my comrades I was very interested in the operating principles of the guns we were trained with.
After the army I started my studies of aeronautical engineering. During that time I came in contact with the reservists association and started participating in military competitions. I soon realized that I could train for almost every aspect of the contest, except for the shooting part, so I joined a shooting club. Now, four years later, I own a pistol and two rifles.
I use them mainly for competitive and recreational shooting. I'm a member of my club's pistol team and we have monthly matches against other clubs in and around Stuttgart. But I also chose my guns for their practicality. My pistol could just as well be used for self-defense at home, the Enfield will accompany me to Spitsbergen (for defense against polar bears) and my SL8 could be used during times of natural or social disaster.
My grandma likes to say, "there'll be bad times again!" Well, I just take her word and try to be prepared, just in case. ;)
You asked, "And the choice to own a gun is a sign of a free society?"
Not having the choice to own a gun certainly is a sign of an oppressive society. Just go and ask the millions who were first disarmed and then slaughtered in the 20th century alone. Just ask the Jews in Europe and the Armenians in Turkey.
Oleg Volk has a nice poster that says:
"Winston Smith (from Orwell's 1984) was not permitted to own guns.
Why do you think that was?"
For me the right to own a gun is an indicator of how free the society I'm living in is. Since April 1st it's less free. :(
Regarding Littleton and Erfurt:
I was driving home from work when I heard about the tragedy in Erfurt in the radio. One of my first thoughts was, "please, let it be an illegal gun!" In Germany 95% of the guns used in crimes are illegally owned, +/- 1..2%. I have yet to hear a single proposal on what to do against tose 95%. All I hear is aimed at the ~4 million law-abiding legal gun owners and the remaining 5%.
It didn't take our politicians long to ban pump-actions with pistols grips (disregarding that Steinhäuser didn't use that gun), to raise the age limit for certain guns and to ask for medical examinations.
I'm working in the automotive industry. Every week about 150 people die in traffic accidents. How many of those fall victim to reckless and irresponsible drivers? Do I have bad feelings about providing them with the means to kill innocent people?
It seems that our society sees it as a necessary misfortune that we loose thousands every year. No one is proposing tougher regulations for car owners or holders of a driver's license.
It's a matter of whether you're a part of it. The majority of us are drivers, the minority are shooters. It's so much easier to oppress a minority. And it's so much easier to ask people, "why do you own guns" than asking "why do you own a sports car?"
April 28, 2003, 03:50 PM
....because even with all of America's current political correctness diseases and our burgeoning nannystatism, being able to carry a gun (I have my carry permit) means that I am a CITIZEN of this Republic, not a subject, unlike so many of our unfortunate cousins in Europe.
Henricke, the key to understanding America is understanding our founding in 1776. Our forefathers were revolutionaries who hated the tyranny of unchecked power and government. That legacy has been handed down the last 225 years.
April 28, 2003, 04:00 PM
May I also add, on a less philisophical and more practical front:
Bad people exist in the world. We have to defend ourselves from them. It is inherently obvious that police cannot be there 100% of the time (see my story A Mother's Conversion elsewhere in this section - true story). Many times the police can't save us. They only get there to clean up the mess.
Why should only the rich and powerful be safe? The right to bear arms is the great equalizer.
April 28, 2003, 04:01 PM
Thought I would go ahead and add my story.
It was just a little more than a couple of years ago when I bought my first house. My fiance moved in shortly after that. I'm not physically incapable. I've been fight training, did some amateur fighting, and bounced for the better part of 20 years now (except for the bouncing). However, if there was one thing that I've learned, its that a malicious person with bad intentions proceeds with their actions with no intent of a level playing field.
I do all the standard things, double check doors and windows at night. Keep an eye on strange things. Anything dangerously out of the ordinary, I call the police. However, the option of a firearm loomed in my head. I had no aversion to firearms, having politically sat on the fence for quite some time. So, to determine if this was in fact the correct route, I researched.
My research showed my several things. The first of which is that the gun control information is a far cry from information. It is propaganda. The pro-gun rights information has some bias as well, but not nearly so much. The conclusion I drew was "better to have and not need than need and not have." There is an accepted risk in owning a gun. Let's not be mistaken about that. But the risk is not a fault of the gun, the risk is in the owner's level of responsibility.
Having no children, I decided that I did not need a safe. I have hiding spots literally built into my house. This to me was sufficient. Then I obtained a gun, a Sigma .380. I shot it enough to be comfortable. But didn't enjoy shooting. Then I shot a friend's Firestar .40 and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Then I shot a friend's Kimber. Then a Ruger. Before long, I found I was not only enjoying shooting, but I had a piece of crap as my only piece.
To shorten up this portion, I'll cut to the chase. I started acquiring handguns and long guns. When this collection grew, I bought a safe to keep them out of the wrong hands. Everything that isn't on me or being used is locked up. Then there were a couple of situations that could have turned ugly. I wish I had been armed to provide me more options. I didn't need a gun in any of them, but it was not me that determined I didn't need one. It was the people with the malicious intent. Thats when I got my carry permit and a carry piece.
My family has given me much grief about carrying. Trying to convince me that I am in fact in more danger by carrying than not. I've managed to quiet most of them by requesting them to cite their "facts" as I provided citations of facts to the contrary. They now accept that I carry and don't give me grief about it. They also accept that I am a weekly shooter. What they don't quite understand is the desire for the number of fire arms I have (which I assure is humble, meager, and miniscule compared to many people on this board).
I started to acquire firearms to make sure that I can at all times be sufficiently armed. My idiot brother chimed in once with "I'm 37 years old and I've never needed one." I asked him, "how many times will you need one before you carry one?" When people say they will probably not need one and therefore don't carry, I point out the following: You don't wear a seat belt for the times you don't need it. You wear for the one time that you do. Does this mean you go out looking to get into an accident simply because you've protected yourself with a seat belt and an air bag? No.
It is not different with firearms among the law abiding. We do not seek trouble. We are prudent. We seek to be safe as is evidenced by our desire to carry an extra measure of protection. By this very desire to be safe, the vast majority of gun owners and carriers actively avoid conflict. I never want to draw on someone. Ever. But I do not wish to not draw on someone for not being properly equipped. I don't want to be facing a criminal with whatever weapon he chooses while I am armed only with whatever weapon the government allows me to have.
And this brings up the other portion of why I decided to be an owner. I read that second ammendment. I read what Mr. Jefferson and others had to say on it. I read what history has said about the unarmed civilians. I never expect to see a righteous uprising. Not in my lifetime. But it is important that I fight for my right to keep and bear arms so that future generations are guaranteed the same right. This is what I do "for the children." There is a reason the government fears firearms. Firearms mean an armed populace. An armed populace means that the government must rule by the will of the people, rather than by force.
You cannot regulate criminal behavior. You can only punish it. Since they will do as they want, I will do all I can to be ready to respond if, heaven forbid, I ever need to.
I'd also like to add that some people in my family have been the victims of violent attacks.
Fortunately, none were seriously injured, but who knows what could have happened.
Also, had they owned firearms at the time, the incidents would likely have turned out much differently.
April 28, 2003, 04:43 PM
henrike, I have a suggestion for you, if you have time. I'd suggest that you take a little time to learn about the circumstances under which the United States was formed. It's very helpful in understanding why we feel the way we do.
If nothing else, take a look at two documents. The first is the Declaration of Independence. In that document the colonies declared their independence, and listed the grievances held against the English monarchy. The second is the The Bill of Rights. It lists the rights, held by the people, that the new government was forbidden to violate. What you would notice is a very close correlation between the grievances of the Declaration of Independence, and the rights listed in the Bill of Rights.
Americans have always been fiercely independent, and very distrustful of government. That is why we have a government of *delegated* powers. This is a very important concept. Our government can only do what the people allow it to do...and no more.
I find it amusing when other countries call for the US government to raise taxes on gasoline in order to cut the amount of gas consumed by the American people. What these other countries don't understand is that the US government and the American people are the same thing. We will never impose such a tax on ourselves. Any politician that would support such a tax would be committing political suicide...he would never be voted into office again. That is the power that the Amercan people have.
April 28, 2003, 04:46 PM
"We will never impose such a tax on ourselves. "
Right. That is why so many of our taxes are hidden - especially income taxation that is withheld from our paychecks before we receive it. Our pols know we hate taxes, so they steal from us under our noses.
I dream of the day tax withholding is abolished....instant revolution!
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