I am a Subject, Not a Citizen (Good essay from a Canadian)


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Drizzt
May 10, 2003, 12:51 AM
I am a Subject, Not a Citizen
(But You Should See Me With a Gun)

I have never been what you would call a gun nut. Sure, I’ve always been up for defending an individual’s Second Amendment rights in a theoretical argument. It’s my libertarian pleasure. But when it comes to real life encounters with guns themselves, I’ve been happy to keep my distance. I know that “guns don’t kill people” and that “people kill people,” but it’s still always seemed to me that it’s the “people and guns” combo that poses the greatest likelihood of doing real damage. So, I’ve been content to argue consistently for a right to bear arms, while staying as far away from those arms as possible in my everyday life.

That’s why it is so strange that I recently found myself standing in the lane of a Florida shooting range, staring down a paper target through the sites of a fully loaded 9mm Glock handgun, while slowly moving my index finger onto the trigger. And even stranger was the fact that I was enjoying every minute of it.

I’d agreed to accompany my boyfriend to the shooting range because we were in Florida. We don’t come from Florida. We’re Canadians living in Toronto. But we were down there for the wedding of one of my college friends, and my boyfriend had, over the course of the weekend, been entirely patient and good-humored about sitting through endless “Whatever happened to…” stories, innumerable SARS jokes, and much mocking of his Canadian accent, without ever once complaining. So, if he wanted to spend the last evening of our vacation at a shooting range, I wasn’t going to stop him.

I was going to be a bit freaked out, mind you. I didn’t know what to expect, and when we walked into the lobby of the shooting range and were greeted with shelves of ammunition, two display cases full of handguns, and a series of automatic weapons mounted on the wall behind the counter, I was ready to turn and run. This was the kind of stuff you were supposed to see in a barn the A-Team was locked into (“We lucked out, Hannibal! There’s an UZI and twenty rounds of ammo lying around.”), not in a legal place of business.

But the boyfriend was all business and before I had a chance to even begin planning my escape, he was already chatting with the reassuringly diminutive young woman behind the counter and setting up his rental of an AK47.

I, meanwhile, did my best not to hyperventilate as one of the male employees showed me a gun the size of a small cannon whose bullets, I was told, would break through a brick wall.

“Try not to look like a deer caught in headlights,” my boyfriend whispered to me with a smile, as he took my hand and led me over to a table where he could fill out the many sheets of paperwork that were required before the kind folks at the range would turn over one of their automatic weapons to him.

“O.K.,’ I said. But my entire body shook with each muted “bang” that leaked through the thick glass and double doors separating the lobby from the shooting lanes.

I suppose that’s how the slim, compact, white-haired man in the Army shirt knew I was scared. He spotted me quickly and came over and asked if I was planning to shoot. I told him I wasn’t. He told me I should. I told him I wouldn’t.

“It’s your duty as a citizen,” the man said.

“I’m not a citizen,” I said. “I’m Canadian.”

“Then, you’re right” he said. “You’re not a citizen, you’re a subject.”

“What kind of gun would you recommend?” I said.

What can I tell you? The truth hurts. But it leads us to action.

In the end, through much consultation with the white-haired man (who turned out to be a calming private instructor named Frank) and the diminutive woman behind the counter (who kindly warned me off of the heavier guns and those with a tendency to recoil) I ended up with a second generation 9mm Glock. Then, an immense man named Fred led me through a thorough lesson about how to load, fire, clear, and handle the weapon without shooting my, or anyone else’s, head off.

By the time I was settled into a lane, methodically observing Fred’s safety rules, carefully aiming and firing at the paper target, taking calm instructions from Frank about smoothing out my squeezing of the trigger, I felt like a different person.

I was in control, I was able to respect the weapon in front of me without feeling terrified of it, and, for the first time in my entire life, I understood what it meant to hold the physical power to defend myself (yes, even my small, five-foot-two self) against anyone who might come along to threaten me or my rights. Well, anyone who didn’t happen to be carrying one of those mini cannon things, anyway.

I am still not a gun nut. I doubt I ever will be. But I can now understand, on a gut rather than just an intellectual level, the liberating power of possessing the ability and the means to protect oneself and one’s freedoms. It is what makes Americans an especially privileged people.

It is what makes each one of them a citizen, not a subject.

—Marni Soupcoff writes from Toronto her column appears every Friday on TAEmag.com.

http://www.theamericanenterprise.org/hotflash030509.htm

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geekWithA.45
May 10, 2003, 01:33 AM
Pay special attention to the punchline.

Then read your Bill of Rights, learn what they mean, and how to wield them.

Know that as an American, you are a member of a culture that dares to strive to bring to reality the deep, spiritual, universal truths that acknowledge that all men are their own masters, and be proud.

Above all, excercise your Rights and Prerogatives, vigorously at every opportunity, and most especially in the face of adversity.

Drjones
May 10, 2003, 06:56 AM
Then, an immense man named Fred...

I was in control, I was able to respect the weapon in front of me without feeling terrified of it, and, for the first time in my entire life, I understood what it meant to hold the physical power to defend myself (yes, even my small, five-foot-two self) against anyone who might come along to threaten me or my rights. Well, anyone who didn’t happen to be carrying one of those mini cannon things, anyway.



Pathetic.

Disgusting that she felt that way before.

Good she felt better after?:scrutiny:

SDC
May 10, 2003, 07:49 AM
I think she finally gets it; it's too bad that so many others up here have the idea that a) ordinary people are too stupid and dangerous to be trusted with guns, or b) that these inanimate objects are like coiled-up rattlers in the corner, just waiting for a chance to attack.

Waitone
May 10, 2003, 08:38 AM
She'll be back!

zahc
May 10, 2003, 02:32 PM
"... and a series of automatic weapons mounted on the wall behind the counter..."

:scrutiny:

Standing Wolf
May 10, 2003, 06:06 PM
No more Canadian vacations for me.

One of the reasons I always carry a gun whenever I leave the house is that civil rights, like muscles and intellectual abilities, need regular, frequent exercise.

Don Gwinn
May 10, 2003, 09:52 PM
Too easy to judge, DrJones. You didn't grow up where, when, or how she did. She took a bigger step beyond those emotions than most people will ever find the guts to do, so we can afford to cut her some slack.

That bit about automatic weapons caught my eye, too, but after all, at a range, there might have been a wall of full-auto rentals. Even in Illinois, where no private citizen can own a full-auto, I can drive an hour and a half and rent a machine gun. So it's possible that she checked, and they really were automatic weapons.

Hell, if she watches the A-Team, how bad can she be?

Ryder
May 11, 2003, 05:30 AM
Television is where Canadians get their firearms education (unless they come here to take a class). .. Which is to say they don't know jack.

My friends from up there had some very strange opinions about guns. Listening to them talk about guns was hard to stomach.

They finally came down here and we all went to the range. Quick learners, good people. It really doesn't take much to demystify people about responsible firearm use if they will allow themselves to be guided past the fears of their ignorance and the lies of the media.

D.W. Drang
May 12, 2003, 12:16 PM
Television is where Canadians get their firearms education (unless they come here to take a class). .. Which is to say they don't know jack. Which makes them differant from most Americans (or " 'Murcans", as they like to say) how?

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