A British POV

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In many ways, I am an inside outsider. That sounds strange I know, but stick with me!

I was born in the UK in '77 and grew up watching the best of US tv shows and movies. Star Wars, Knight Rider, The A Team, WWF, Sly and Arnie movies.. you get the idea. So when I moved to the US when I was 29, I already had a love of the US culture, but was experiencing the total immersion for the first time.

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(I loved these movies growing up, looking back now I guess I see why I made a biometric lock hidden gun room with everything on peg boards!)

I had never shot a gun, but always wanted to. Movies and TV shows always seemed to show a nonchalant approach to gun ownership, as if they are as common and harmless as a baseball cap. In some ways, that was true.

My first trip to the gun store/range was met with a surprising amount of anxiety. I had assumed that it would be difficult to get access to a gun, load it, shoot it on the range etc, but in fact I walked in, handed over my $20 and they gave me a Glock 19 and a box of bullets. I wandered into the range somewhat bemused that I had been trusted with this deadly weapon, and hoped that I wouldn't accidentally shoot myself or anyone else.

The guy next to me popped off a few rounds whilst I was clumsily loading the mag, and I about **** myself with the surprising noise and shockwave from my neighbor's gun.
I emptied my mags pretty quickly, and walked away confused. I didnt know if I enjoyed myself. I had no clue if I was a good shot for my first range visit, if I had been safe, or even if I had like the gun I shot.
They say you should never meet your hero's, I think that counted on my first range visit.

A few days after my visit, the Virginia Tech massacre occurred. Talking heads on the TV debated gun control and the 2nd Amendment, and I have to admit I started to think about what it all meant to me, for the very first time.

As a foreigner from a country where most guns are banned, I was always shocked by the number of shootings, both mass and the less reported 'minor' gun violence, that occurred in the US each year. It surprised me how precious everyone was on the opposing sides, yelling propaganda, but not listening at all. How the victim's families were either villainized or martyred depending on their views, and mostly for me, I was surprised at the ease of access to firearms.

Keep in mind, where I come from, Tazers, Brass Knuckles, Pepper Spray, Mace, and even pocket knives are illegal and often classed as a firearm carrying a mandatory 4 year prison sentence if you are caught with them.
So to see the talking heads argue that background checks are wrong or right, that those with mental deficiencies should/shouldnt have firearms, that gun shows are the arch enemy of the left but beloved by the right, got me wondering if there were any bright, middle grounders.

Let me fast forward 10 years.
I am now a US Citizen. I am a CC permit holder. I own MANY guns including 4 Kel-Tec's, and I would probably be described as a Democrat.

I know that I am probably hated now, but I can live with that. I understand that people aren't either blue or red, that there can be all kinds of purple..... it would be awesome if everyone would see themselves as purple, just different shades. If we could do that, maybe we could agree that those on a terrorist watch list shouldn't have access to guns, or the penalties for passing guns on to those that mean harm are more severe.
I think we could all agree that those who are unable to think clearly or rationally, probably shouldn't have a gun. We don't let the drunk drive, so why should we allow those without the ability or clarity to understand the gravity of using a firearm, own firearms? Common sense really should prevail, without the total abandon of the 2nd amendment, but with a modern, common sensical approach.

So how did I go from the Virginia Tech massacre week to my current state of gun ownership? Careful introduction.

A friend of a friend had asked me if I would like to go shoot, and I cautiously agreed. I met him at his house instead of at the range, where he pulled about 20 guns from his safe.
He showed me that they were all empty, and proceeded to teach me the fundamentals; gun safety, what to do if I get a FTF or FTE, how to breathe, apply trigger pressure, how to avoid anticipating the shot, how to block out others and focus on my station.
It really was a revelation. I suddenly LOVED shooting. I rented lots of guns, found the calibers that I liked, watched youtube videos (lots of Nutnfancy), researched the pros and cons of each weapon system, and started my collection.

I actually started with a .22 GSG5. It was fun, and I still love shooting .22 to this day, but it wasnt a great gun. In fact, the first 6 or 7 guns that I bought I ended up passing-on as they never quite suited my needs, and I didnt love them.

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I have to say that in my current collection, I really have some stand-out favorites, and as you have indulged me to this point, I will go a little further and tell you what they are and why I love them:

*Sub 2000 Gen 2, Glock .40. What isn't to love!!!! Its a PCC that folds in half and is such fun to shoot. I have it outfitted with an offset picatinny with a FastFire 3 red dot. Sadly, Keltec quality isn't awesome and it stopped detonating the chambered rounds after the first 60-70 rounds. It went back for repair, when it was returned, they had broken the barrel and foregrip, and it had to be returned a second time. It's back now and it's behaving!

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*My Gen 4 Glock 23c. Its the pinnacle of hand guns IMO. I was going to swap the trigger and add a reflex, but it just 'works' as it is, so it's staying stock and is my daily carry.

*KelTec RDB. Everyone at the range wants to play with it, and for good reason. It's such a tight, simple package. Its just an awesome rifle and such a welcome relief from the thousands of AR15's I see at the range each visit. I added the Burris AR536 optic, which is just fantastic!

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*KelTec SU22C. I have it suppressed and its just the best way to put a smile on your face....unless you are a squirrel. They do not love it! BUT, why did KelTec make it so freaking difficult to clean? This was another gun that went back for repair as the bolt was broken out of the box.

*SigP238. This is my other daily carry for when I can't wear a larger frame. Great gun.

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I also have a PF9. Carried it for a long time, but that trigger.........So, my outsider's ramble comes to an end. In summary I would like to say this........ Have patience and teach non-shooters very carefully. Try to listen and be open to other's gun control/NRA views, and be careful how you express your own.Shoot lots of guns because they are awesome! (in the correct hands).

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April 27, 2017  •  04:26 PM
Part I:

I appreciate that you shared your thoughts. Because you chose to bring some political hot-buttons into the discussion, let's touch on those.

You write, "maybe we could agree that those on a terrorist watch list shouldn't have access to guns." No. We definitely DO NOT agree on that. What we probably all agree on is that TERRORISTS shouldn't have access to guns. The problem is that many (most?) people on the "Terrorist Watch List" (or the broader "No Fly List") aren't terrorists. They're not even all suspected of being terrorists. This list represents nothing more than a "persons of potential interest" list. SOME of them MAY be terrorists. Others are just some completely innocent person that they know; perhaps a family member or a contact who is unaware of their activities which "the watchers" use to track the actual suspects movements and interactions. There are completely innocent people on this list. Senator Kennedy was, famously, somehow on this list. That brings us to the second point of contention concerning using the watch list as a denial vehicle. Addition to the list is a performed bureaucratically, not as a result of adjudication. The right to keep and bear arms is a RIGHT which requires a person to be convicted of a crime to loose, just like other rights. No one should lose their rights just because they happen to go to the same church (mosque) or happen to be related to a nutbag. Finally, it's darn near impossible to get off of the list even if you were accidentally added. First, it's not a public list so no one knows if you're on it. Certainly NICS isn't plugged in and doesn't know. But it, quite literally, takes the actions of a Senator or Congressman to get someone removed who shouldn't be there. This is a complete violation of Due Process rights. So, yeah, while we agree that Terrorists shouldn't have access to guns, being arbitrarily placed on this list doesn't mean one is a Terrorist, or even suspected of being one. This is a deliberate lie perpetuated mostly by Democrat politicians in hopes that people such as you will support it.
April 27, 2017  •  04:27 PM
Part II:

Moving on.

You also write, "I think we could all agree that those who are unable to think clearly or rationally, probably shouldn't have a gun." Yeah, we agree on this. Pretty much everyone, everywhere, agrees. I assume you are referencing former President Obama's move to add certain Social Security Recipients and certain VA patients to the NICS 'no buy' list under the claim that they are too crazy to have access to guns. That's the problem. Again this violates Due Process. The U.S. already has a very solid process for stripping these rights from a person who is too irrational to be trusted with deadly force. A Judge must adjudicate them mentally defective. Under the Obama rules a patient or recipient could be stripped of their rights without Due Process. Again, a bureaucrat somewhere, usually in secret, strips the citizen of their rights. There have been claims that a person can petition to have the rights restored, but this is totally backwards. It is incumbent upon the party making the claims that the citizen is mentally defective to prove the claim before the rights can be stripped away, not that the citizen has to prove the claim false, ex post facto.

To summarize, I rather doubt that the people you think you disagree with are actually in disagreement. It seems, instead, that you have been deliberately mislead and confused about what certain practices and positions actually are.
April 28, 2017  •  06:50 PM
Outstanding article!
Thank you for sharing your story.
I makes my heart soar to know that the mindset of a Brit can be changed. Some here may fret that you are a liberal but they have no idea how far you have come from what was your norm.
I'm reminded of a spirited discussion I had with several British citizens while on a cruise ship. I was hanging out with them because they spoke English that I could understand.
We were getting along great until I let slip that I owned several guns.
Their mouths dropped open as if I had blurted out "I'm so-and-so and I'm a member of the Mafia".
"Why do you have guns? Only criminals need guns!"
I calmly explained that we had almost no crime, but we still had 3 types of criminals:
1. Lucky ones that had been arrested and locked away in prison for their own safety.
2. Unlucky ones who were no longer criminals "above-ground".
3. And a few others who had not had the opportunity to decide which path they would follow.

There was absolutely no hope of convincing them that our RIGHT to bear arms made this country much safer.
They shared their concept of the 'wild-west' America where everybody shoots everybody on a daily basis.
It was so bizarre that I felt like Elmer Fudd with a shotgun draped over my arm hunting Wabbits.
Their minds were so vulcanized that I'm sure when I wandered off they were still trying to figure out how the cruise-ship would allow a 'mafioso' on board.
For the people that are worried you are a liberal; they should meet some REAL ones.
You're just a bit more purple than red.
And there are a lot more purple people here than you think.
Welcome to America!
You American, you!
Blake H.
p.s. Your picture looks like the Terminator picking out weapons. (very high praise)
And you don't have to 'hide' your guns in a secret room if you don't want to.
It's OK.
May 1, 2017  •  09:49 AM

Thanks for your comments! As I mentioned in the first line of the article, I feel like I am somewhat of an outsider when it comes to the political landscape, my views aren't as polarized as other's. I was once accused of being a tree hugging, gun hating liberal, just because I said I would vote Democrat during that particular election. I then showed the accuser my CCW permit to prove I was not the stereotype they had painted me to be (not what I was actually packing though) and offered to take them to the range. This confused them! This is what I mean about 'we are not Red or Blue, but shades of purple.'

So to respond to your comments, I would simply say this. It is my opinion that someone on a terrorist watch list, or someone is deemed mentally unfit, should not be allowed to own a firearm.
The process of classifying the potential terrorists, or 'mentally unfit' is absolutely up for debate by those who are far more in the know. The current process is not close to being perfect.
I had an unhinged neighbor who had been in and out for prison his entire life, stole from people in the neighborhood, and would literally piss on people's doors in the night. I think that person should be denied the right to own a firearm. I knew he had lots of them, that made me very uncomfortable. BTW, he has spent time in prison for murder as a juvenile.
I don't live there any more, part of the reason was I felt unsafe in my own home and chose to live elsewhere instead of risking my, or my family's lives. I also would prefer to avoid a firefight if at all possible! ;)
May 1, 2017  •  10:03 AM
@BlakeHanson Ha, that picture is Arnie from Commando!

There is very little common ground amongst Brits when it comes to firearms. All of my co-workers (in the UK but we travel back and forth) are extremely anti gun. So much so, that when they visit me here in the US, they insist I do not carry. I just tell them I am not ;)

I had a huge fight with one of them who was furious that I had a pocket knife. He insisted that I was only carrying it because I planned to attack someone with it. He couldn't understand that I use it more than my cell phone, and carrying a pocket knife to me is just like putting on a pair of shoes.

I think that ultimately, it's just cultural. I have no problem with other people having opposing views, how they communicate them is where feelings get hurt.
My colleague's disgust at my pocket knife and gun collection doesn't stop me carrying either, so I respectfully refrain from taunting / flaunting either which means he has no cause to freak out.

Next time, ask a Brit if they think a woman should be able to vote, or if Muslim's should be able to wear Hijabs. I bet they say yes because it is that person's right to do so, then remind them that firearms are part of American culture and it is our right to carry them. drop mic, walk away looking smug! ;)