Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My day at the shooting range with the AR-15

I have written a few times on this blog about guns; such as here, here, and here. Being that I am generally pro gun control, the times I write about guns I am often accused of being just another “leftist” who wants to shred the Constitution and take everybody’s guns away.  I have shot some guns before; a 9mm, a 45, and a small 22 rifle if I remember correctly, but that was back during my days as a Baptist, and God knows I’ve certainly changed since then!

'AR-15' photo (c) 2010, Robert Freiberger - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/If you read my last blog—and I highly recommend it!—I pointed out the problem of limiting one’s influences. I wrote that “It is ESSENTIAL then to constantly be seeking out and encountering new mental stimuli.  To purposefully expose oneself to ideas and influences that fly in that face of one’s currently held beliefs.”  Well, I think it’s very easy for me to not take my own advice. I go to a “liberal” church, I attended a “liberal” seminary, and I often read “liberal” sources.  So, I try very hard—not saying I couldn’t do better—to expose myself to diverse opinions, specifically from the conservative spectrum. So when one of my gun-owning friends mentioned the possibility to going shooting with him, I knew I had to take him up on it.

One of the guns my friend owns, and of which I was anxious to shoot, is the notorious AR-15 “assault” rifle. In “liberal” circles, even the mention of this gun seemingly brings with it a dark, brooding sense of evil.  I sort of chuckled to myself when shortly after the Newtown tragedy, someone at my church mentioned as a “praise” during prayer time that a local retailer would no longer be selling the weapon.  “Definitely at a liberal church,” I thought. I dare say some of my colleagues might be a bit taken back when they hear of this outing.

First off, I feel it’s important to point out that I wasn’t going out with some yahoo.  Rather, I was with one friend who has his Conceal and Carry Permit and another who is a Certified Range Safety Instructor. These two men, like most gun owners, are responsible and focused on doing things safely. 

One of the holes in this target may be
of my own making. It's conceivably possible. 
We went out to a secluded spot in the forest, in the bottom of a ravine. I had brought some safety glasses and earplugs—so had my friends of course. After running me through some basic gun safety, my first try was with a 40 hand gun.  Needless to say the ground short of the target took a lot of abuse. Next up was the 30/30 rifle. Two shots were all I needed. Two shots were all I wanted. Two shots were all my shoulder could take. Finally came the mythical, the infamous AR; it was lightweight, easy to handle, easy to fire. It was nothing compared to the 30/30.  I fired off several rounds, and then had another go around later on.  All in all, it was a good outing with some friends and a good experience.

Did I learn anything life-changing? Did I have a “conversion experience” and become a gun enthusiast? Not quite.   One of my friends asked me if I could see why the newly imposed magazine limits in Colorado are kind of a drag to sports shooters, having to reload more frequently at the range.  I agreed. He also lightheartedly commented that he could see how a 25 or 30 round mag could make hurting a lot of people a lot easier.  The AR-15 does make for a pleasurable (seems too strong a word) experience at the range.   The AR-15 is also highly customizable and therefore perfect for any young male with money to spend and an ego to boost.  While I think it’s unfair to blanket label this gun as “evil,” I still can’t get away from the fact that it, along with large capacity magazines in other instances, is often the weapon of choice by people who want to do harm to a great number of individuals—yet I can also see why a shooting enthusiast would enjoy using one at the range.

If I was pushed for a solution, I think I would have to revert back to the blog I wrote back after the Newton tragedy, in which I suggested these rifles be stored on site at shooting ranges and only utilized there. Yet I also know that probably 99.9% of AR-15 owners will never use them for harm.  Unfortunately, when these are used for wrongdoing, the devastation caused is substantially greater… It’s a complex issue. And if there is one thing in life I am pretty sure on, it is that nothing in life is simple; there is complexity, there is nuance, and there are different shades of gray.  But would I ever own an AR-15? Not that I can ever imagine. 

No comments:

Post a Comment