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How Did You Get Involved?

Jeff points out the story of how Sandra Froman became involved in the gun issue.  How did you become involved?   I’ll tell my story.  There are a few things that might be surprising, or maybe not:

  1. I grew up in a household without guns.  My mother would not have allowed a gun in the house.
  2. I did not own my own firearm until I was 25 years old.
  3. My first firearm was an Romanian AK-47 variant.
  4. I wasn’t all that into shooting when I bought the gun.  I bought it because politicians kept saying I shouldn’t have one.   Yeah, I’m like that.

I did have exposure to firearms growing up.   While my father and mother were not gun owners, nor were they reflexively anti-gun.  They did not indoctrinate me with anti-gun and anti-freedom values, and did make the mistake of letting me spend a lot of time around my uncle, who got into them when I was a teenager.  I can remember going to my first gun show before Papa Bush’s import ban went into effect, and seeing tables with Norincos on it.  I would have been around 14 or so at the time I suppose.  My uncle owned a few M1 Carbines, a pistol or two, and a few BB guns and air rifles, which we were allowed to shoot targets and run around the woods behind his house with unsupervised (the horror!).  I had a lot of fun shooting at targets, cans, various glassware and other such things.  It was a lot of fun!  At this point, I was only vaguely aware of gun control as an issue.  I knew some people wanted background checks.  This never really seemed to be unreasonable to me as a kid.  I was aware there were constitutional protections for firearms ownership, and never really considered that there might be people out there who disagreed with this in a serious way.

After I entered high school, and later college, I got away from shooting, and forgot about the fun I used to have.  Probably the first thing that made me stand up and pay attention to the issue was Papa Bush’s assault weapons ban, which he did using an executive order under his powers authorized by the Gun Control Act of 1968’s “sporting purposes” clause.  Now, at this point, I understood the differences between a machine gun, and a semi-automatic gun that looked like a machine gun, so I realized for the first time that people were willing to ban semi-automatic firearms based on looks.

The thing that really turned me into a serious opponent of the gun-ban lobby was when I was a sophomore in college and Clinton passed the 1994 Crime Bill which basically put a ban on an entire class of firearms.  At the time, I didn’t realize just how silly the drafting was, so I actually thought it more like California’s ban, rather than just a ban on bayonet lugs and flash hiders.  I still thought it was unconstitutional.  I never really thought much about the ban on actual machine guns.   That happened when I was a kid.   I knew you could get them, but that it was difficult.  I didn’t know, at the time, exactly how the law worked.

I stayed out of shooting until just before 2000, my friend Jason, who you all remember as the guy who had the Calico M950 blow up in his face (he finally had the fragments removed the other day, BTW), took me to shoot his Calico M100 and Beretta Tomcat .32 at the Bucks County PGC shooting range (now closed).  I remembered how much I used to like shooting when I was a kid; it had been the first time I shot a gun since I was a teenager.  A month or so later, Jason informed me that a gun shop in Feasterville was selling Romanian AK-47 variants for about 300 bucks.  I was shocked to find out they actually weren’t covered by the ban, and given the fact that I knew the current administration would disapprove, I jumped at the chance.   The first shot out of my SAR-1 was the first center fire rifle cartridge I had ever fired in my life.   It was downhill from there.

A few weeks after aquiring the AK-47, I decided to join the NRA.   Shortly after I also joined the SAF.   I got into reading blogs in 2002.  The first blog was Reason’s Hit & Run.   Early blogs after that were Volokh, Insty, Vodkapundit, Steven Den Beste, and The Belmont Club.   The first gun blog I became aware of was Kim’s Nation of Riflemen.  From there I became aware of SayUncle, Bitter, and Jeff Soyer.   The rest of them all came later.

Of course, I started my own blog to impress Bitter, and convince her to go on a date with me.   You can read about the rest on my about page.  So what’s your story?

11 Responses to “How Did You Get Involved?”

  1. Joseph says:

    My uncles from my Mom’s side of the family took me out shooting when I was 9, and I fell in love with it (that Marlin 39A was just great). Got my 10/22 in late ’05.

  2. Ahab says:

    Double comment – I can’t f*cking type today. WTF is “begane”?

  3. […]how it all started for me[…]

  4. Blackwing1 says:

    Sebastian:

    I was born in 1958, so I’m coming from a much earlier generation.

    My mother grew up in a household where hunting and fishing were the norm, while my father grew up in the “big” city. Minneapolis back in the ’20’s and ’30’s was still a fairly small place, and he grew up initially on a truck farm, and then later right in the city. When he joined the Navy in WWII, he’d never fired a firearm before in his life and still easily qualified with rifle. He never liked firearms, and never allowed us as much as a BB-gun in the house.

    Fortunately, my mom’s father (“Gramps”, to me) was an outdoorsman. Heck, hunting and fishing were how he kept food on the table during the Depression. So whenever I’d go over to Gramps’ house, from about age 5 onwards, we’d target shoot with his pump-up pellet gun. First, just inside the garage, shooting at pieces of scrap wood. I have no idea what kind of pellet gun it was, but looking at how deep it drove a pellet into solid oak impressed me, as a very small child, that this was a very adult thing to do. When I demonstrated some degree of competence at muzzle control and accuracy, I was allowed to shoot outdoors in the back yard, first at scrap wood targets (he’d draw a ragged bullseye with a piece of charcoal), and then later at the blackbirds raiding his raspberry patch.

    I think I was about 10 or 12 when we graduated to a single-shot, bolt-action .22. We’d drive out to the small-town dump, which was in a ravine, and plink for hours. He’d set some change on the hood of the car, and my cousins and I (being the greedy little SOB’s that we were) would compete to hit the various targets he’d select. What a niftily insidious way to teach us to shoot accurately.

    But we always kept these activities quiet, so as not to “upset” my father. I think my mom knew about it, and just quietly winked at Gramps taking us out to shoot.

    Later, Gramps would take me and my dog out squirrel hunting. There’s nothing like sitting quietly in a patch of oak woods, waiting for the bushy-tails to pop out. We’d set the dog out 25 yards away, and then give him the command to “get ‘em” if the squirrel was on the wrong side of the tree from us. He’d chase it around, we’d pop the squirrel with the .22, and my Golden Retriever doofus-dog would grab him and bring him back to us, all excited to have been useful. We’d send him back out, wait quietly for 15 minutes or so, and repeat the process. Gramps would fry up squirrel and bacon for dinner.

    I bought my first firearm shortly after I turned 18. It was a Coast-To-Coast branded Mossberg 500, in 12 gauge, with a 28″ plain barrel. I kept it at some friends house, since I knew I’d never be allowed to keep it at my folks (which was where I was living while I went to school). Loaded with birdshot, that was my pheasant/grouse/duck gun; loaded with slug, it was my whitetail gun. For years, it was the only firearm I owned, and was as close to a general-purpose device as you can imagine.

    When I moved out of my parents house into an apartment near the university, the Mossberg came with me. In the years between, I’d found a used 20″ barrel with rifle sights (still just a straight tube…no actual rifling), so that now became the “home defense” shotgun.

    I realize now how very fortunate I was that my Gramps took an interest in teaching me how to shoot (among other things). I treasure the memories of him cackling with glee as we’d hit our targets, shoving the nickel or dime over to let us know we’d earned it. Then he’d take that same little rifle (I’m pretty sure he’d cut down the stock so it was easier for us kids to handle), and show us just how accurate it could be a much longer ranges than we were able to shoot. I remember him shooting the push-button of the door handle on a junked car door at a range that (to my 10-year old eyes) seemed pretty close to infinity.

    Sorry for the length, but I kind of got on a roll.

  5. Sebastian says:

    No problem on length. It was a good story.

  6. Like Blackwing, I was born in ’58. I was introduced to guns at an early age. Both my Mom and Dad hunted, as did everyone else in the family.

    There’s a pic of me with my toy rifle at about age four. It shot actual projectiles (spring-loaded bullets). I carried it when my Dad took me hunting with him. I got to sit with my Grandpa hunting.

    Got a BB gun at age 7, started hunting on my own at age 12.

    Short version: I’ve been a gun nut all my life.

  7. BobG says:

    Born in 1952, my dad used to hunt and target shoot. I learned to shoot .22 caliber pistols and rifles at about five years old; by the time I was ten I had learned to shoot the 1911, and had shot my dad’s 270 Winchester a few times, but the recoil was a little much for me at that time. Bought my first gun at 16, a 1903A3 for deer hunting. Have been shooting and hunting since, though not as much hunting as I used to do.

  8. Robb Allen says:

    Sebastian, for some odd reason my trackback doesn’t work nor did my last comment go through, so I’m trying again.

    Here’s my reply to your question – http://blog.robballen.com/archive/2007/06/01/How-I-became-a-Gun-Nut.aspx

  9. Alcibiades says:

    My parents apparently had (and still have) guns while starting their/our family. Now, I say “apparently” because I didn’t find out about these guns until I was twelve. And I also found out that my father was some sort of firearms safety instructor (not professional). I suppose they had hidden them for safety reasons or because they didn’t want us kids blabbing (this was in California and not exactly pro-gun). They did take some realistic toy guns away, but I think it was because of reports of cops accidentally shooting kids.

    Note: They did not support “just hunting weapons” (though they did own a pair of matching shotguns for a time, and my father supports Florida’s CCW laws). They did own a .357 magnum revolver along with a Remington 700 (and bought a few more guns after introducing me to them).

    Anyway, my father took me out to shoot the .22LR rifle once. We meant to go some more, but we moved to a different state and kind of got distracted by the new environment. I still maintained an interest in firearms and wanted to join the NRA at 16 while having barely ever used a gun or even knew what sort of programs they performed. I even once brought a copy of Guns & Ammo to high school to read at lunch (which was a bad idea, in retrospect, considering what happened that year).

    Years later, I would see Michael Moore’s* Bowling for Columbine on premium cable television. It used so many emotional appeals that it pissed me off (particularly as I had just taken a course in logic and reasoning). So, I went searching on the internet to find responses to it and that’s how I learned about gunblogs and pro-gunnery. And Kim du Toit’s was highly ranked in my various searches and through his blogroll found other blog sites like Say Uncle, Anarchangel, The Bitch Girls, and others. (And through them, now Snowflakes.)

    *(In high school, I had actually liked Michael Moore and watched his some of his “Awful Truth” series. He didn’t seem bad from what I had seen and even made sense. I fancied myself somewhat more liberal at the time, even though classroom political quizzes placed me at “just left of center”, with a good friend of mine being “just right of center” — he was also pro-gun. Who do you think I was showing Guns & Ammo to?)

  10. Dave Hardy says:

    Born in 1951, so also a different generation. I can’t remember when I didn’t know how to shoot. First rifle was a .22, given to me by Dad when I was 8. (I just gave it to my own youngest son). First centerfire was an ’03 Springfield, bought out of my paper route money at age 16 or so. I was a cartridge collector by 8th grade. And setting off pipe bombs by age 18 (gad, Dept of Homeland Security would have had quite a file on me if they’d existed, but back then it was just fun).

  11. Dave says:

    I came from a midwestern military family, so I was always at ease with guns, although I went for a long stretch without actually owning any of my own. I always believed in a personal right to bear arms whether I was exercising it or not. Growing up an Army brat, from a rural midwestern family that was never really in doubt.
    Some combination of the LA riots, Ruby Ridge, Waco, the AWB, and Katrina gradually raised my awareness of the political battles in this area over the years.
    After going years without owning any firearms, I now have several, and I back that up with my votes on election day.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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