I hate guns. I despise what they do when pointed at another human being and I’m not particularly crazy about the idea of one being pointed at me. If I had my way, every gun in the world (with the exception of those carried by the police and the military) would be tossed into a landfill and covered with a thick layer on concrete. I have very little respect for the NRA, as I think the organization is run by a group of overzealous gun nuts.
The days of needing to hunt for food have long since passed, as the grocery stores are very well stocked with fresh meats every day of the week. Having said all of that, I’ve finally buckled and purchased a (gulp) g-u-n of my own. I know…it makes absolutely no sense and I’m still struggling with the whole thing.
All anyone has to do is to turn on the Chicago TV news or read the local newspaper in order to realize that this world is in trouble. I’ve never been the paranoid type, but there is a heck of a lot of violence taking place out there, and not just in the “hood” as was once the case. My neighborhood, for example, was once a very quiet and decent place to live. It was populated by hard-working families with children who went to nice schools. The kids would be picked up at lunchtime by their mothers and brought home for a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup (and also to watch Bozo's Circus). There was a corner grocery store where the local kids could purchase their candy and baseball cards and the store clerk knew every kid by their first (and last) name.
Today the neighborhood is populated by a much more diverse population, which certainly isn’t a bad thing. In terms of local businesses, several somewhat "sketchy" establishments have set up shop over the past few years. Pawn shops, smoke shops, a fireworks store and even a tattoo parlor are now within a few minutes’ walk from the old homestead. What a person does to make a living is none of my concern; however, some of the customers that these businesses draw are not always bringing to the area the wholesome values that those who used to shop at the corner store once brought.
As a result, there has been some trouble in the area as of late, with several break-ins, random shootings and even a local resident shot in an attempted robbery some time ago. Only a week ago or so, I heard the rapid fire of a semi-automatic pistol from the next street over. With the recent events combined with the regular and consistent onslaught of negative news emanating from the media, I've begun to feel a bit vulnerable. Although I feel that I could still take care of myself if I was put in that position, I don’t think my pre-arthritic left fist is a match for some thug interested in coming into my home thinking I might be out for the evening.
I did a little online research as to what might be a suitable firearm for home protection and, once completed, I headed over to Cabela’s for an up-close look. This is where things get a bit scary.
I walked into the store with trepidation; however, I went in anyway. It was at 11:45 AM on a Saturday morning that I walked into a store that I had never visited before. The store was packed, and I mean lined up, with people waiting to purchase firearms.
The store was well-equipped for the many eager shoppers who were anxious to get outfitted with guns. Although there were at least fifty people waiting at the gun counter, I waited no more than five minutes for someone to assist me. A nice gentleman approached me and I explained my objective:
Me: I don’t particularly care for guns, but I feel like I’d like to have a little something for home protection.
Clerk: Are you interested in a handgun or maybe a home protection shotgun….something that will take care of someone really quickly?
Me: (immediately thinking of the mess that might result from a shotgun blast…yikes) Uh…just a small handgun will be fine, please.
The clerk directed me to a gun that I had already viewed online and, before I changed my mind, I told him that I would take it. Now it was time to load up! So we walked over the ammunition aisle:
Clerk: Now….what type of ammo are you looking for?
Me: Well, what are the choices?
Clerk: These are the standard bullets that you’d take to the range and practice with. If you had to shoot someone with one of these, it would make a hole and certainly wouldn’t feel too good. Now these, the hollow-tip variety, well these would really inflict some major damage and they’d know they were shot very quickly.
Me: Um….just the regular “leave a hole in the guy” type is fine.
Now we proceeded to the holster aisle where the clerk suggested something nice to hold the g-u-n. He asked me if I would be carrying the gun with me and I said that I doubted so. The clerk still showed me a holster that, in the event I was to get into a gunfight, I would have a holster that would be suitable for a “quick draw”, which he demonstrated to me right there in the aisle. At this point, I almost aborted the whole mission, but I hung in there. The selection process to find a holster that fit the gun took approximately ten minutes.
Now, it was time to go through the “background check” portion of the process. This is where things get REALLY scary! The most agonizing part of the background check process was the 30 minute wait in line as I waited for the many others to go through their check. Once it was my turn, I proceeded to a computer, logged in some basic information and answered a few questions. After NO MORE than a five minute wait, the cashier was swiping my credit card and off I went. I walked out of the store at 12:45 PM, which was exactly one hour after I walked in. Had I known the type of bullets and holster to purchase and had I not had to wait in a prolonged line for the background check, the entire process would have taken no more than twenty minutes to complete.
As a comparator, I went grocery shopping yesterday. The store was somewhat crowded, but not overly so. I know my way around the grocery store to the point where I don’t do much backtracking. I can maneuver my way through the store relatively quickly and get in and out without much delay. Yesterday I filled up my shopping cart, loaded the items on the conveyer and bagged the groceries myself. The entire process took approximately thirty-five minutes. I guess the question is this; why does it take less time to walk into a sporting goods store and buy a gun and ammunition than it does to buy groceries? Keep in mind; I only shop for groceries for myself too.
I know myself to be sane…of sound mind. I’ve never experienced any issues related to mental or emotional instability and I have no record of such. Having said that, there are MAYBE a dozen people in this world that can truthfully substantiate the state of my mental well-being. Not having a record of mental instability does not necessarily mean I don’t have some. Shouldn’t there be some type of screening process to validate the soundness of my mind? I know I’ve lost my temper in the past and I can sometimes stay somewhat angry for more than sixty minutes.
The instance that I’ve just described clearly demonstrates one thing; anyone potential lunatic with a foul temper and an ax to grind, provided he/she does not have a record which would prohibit the purchase of a firearm, can walk into any gun store and walk out with a weapon and ammunition in an hour or less. Common sense should tell us we need to change the rules regarding gun purchases.