Advertizing my Second Amendment right
A is for ArmaLite, B is for Browning, C is for Colt, D is for Derringer, E is for Enfield, F is for Firearms and G is for Gun. Growing up in England, that’s how I learned my ABC’s. This is because I am an American through my Father, and guns are in my DNA.
I was born and raised in England but every Thanksgiving and Independence Day, over the turkey and cranberry sauce, the patriot of the dinner table made sure that firearms were a theme in the American history tutorial he regularly conducted for me and my brothers.
“Burn this in real good now, boys. April 19, 1775, an English attempt to confiscate guns from Americans triggered the greatest revolution in the history of the world!”
Dad with Beer
A former columnist for The Guardian, Dad is not a member of the National Rifle Association and dislikes the late actor and NRA spokesman Charlton Heston because “he made a lot of crap films.“ Dad is a lifelong Democrat who believes in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But, like millions of other Americans, he has some very odd beliefs about firearms, and the right to bear them, that the British side of my family finds weird.
Gun laws are ridiculous. “Everyone in England should be armed.” And he considers revolvers, pistols, hunting rifles, assault rifles, pump actions and elephant guns “a male accessory…women got their handbags and shoes, we got deer rifles and semi autos.”
He complains endlessly about life in “gunless England.” You can’t own a “a Roscoe” without “some cockamamie £50 certificate from the po-lice.” You could not shoot an intruder on your property (“an Englishman’s home is no longer his castle”) or even defend your own life.
“Guns ain’t bad,” he once proclaimed from his Somerset porch, rubbing oil down the long barrels of an open shotgun, “it’s the guys who shoot at you who are bad.”
It seemed best not to argue.
Non-violent but not blood and bone anti-gun I now live in the Father Country. Half a century after he left it it’s now seen nightly on the world’s TV as the land of the high school massacre, the solitary type on a killing spree, the random assassin, a nation of gun junkies.
It really isn’t like that, is it? The normality of gun ownership in the United States automatically provokes an English gag reflex. Yet now I live happily in a place where firearms stand next in importance to the constitution itself.
And you don’t have to have an American Psycho in your gene pool to know that Americans are a dangerous breed. 80 people a day die of gunshot wounds in the USA. Americans own an estimated 30-40% of the entire civilian owned guns in the world. According to a recent Gallup poll, 23% of gun owners are female.
A six-gun killer can be any kind of American. It could be a pair of bullied teens who don’t like Mondays at the local high school; an ex military type with a grudge and a rifle in a high point; a marksman lurking in a clock tower or the boot of a car; a lone “active shooter” out on the rampage.
Am I being paranoid? Hell yeah, I got reason to be paranoid. Fear comes from having real life events in close proximity. Last year, Grady High School, just down the road in my peaceful Atlanta neighborhood, went into “lockdown,” the prison security measure now widely used in American schools, when a chubby 17-year-old teenage pupil shot herself in the thigh on campus with a stolen pink Taurus handgun. Between psychos, fools and the average Joanna, there are clearly many reasons to be fearful in Midtown Atlanta.
But is that reason enough to arm myself? Do I really want, or need, a 9mm Sig Sauer P226, a 12-gauge Remington 870 pump action shotgun or a Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle with laser sights and high capacity magazines? I asked the Old Man. He gave me some killing advice, long range from England.
“If you get a handgun, make sure it is less than five parts, 9mm or .45 caliber and fits your hand real snug. When you shoot, no two-hand crap, that’s for pussies. Real men pull out a gun with one hand and shoot from the hip.”
He reminded me that “God, guns and guts made America.” And the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, gives me the inalienable excuse to own a weapon of relative destruction “and constantly plead the Second.”
“You got the right to a gun, that’s the law where I come from, and that’s the way folks like it. English people, fools like that Piers Morgan guy on CNN, just don’t understand. Guns are a good way of keeping the population down – but don’t tell anyone that, they wouldn’t think it was funny.”
Of imperfect understanding myself, I sought refuge in the writings of the Dalai Lama. It brought little enlightenment.
“If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun”.
A weapon is muscle. It gives you power and gets you a lot of respect. No wonder so many Americans own them. It is worth your life to arm yourself in the land of the gun. They know how to shoot you. So it is best to learn how to do it back, and not have any qualms about doing so. Enough thinking. It was time to get my American on, and tool up.
Flying the Flag
In the gun-friendly state of Georgia, no permit or license is required to purchase a rifle, shotgun or handgun. It is unlawful to carry a loaded handgun without a “Georgia Weapons Carry License.” But after a background check to establish your “good moral character,” and a fee of $79.25, it can be worn openly on the hip like a cowboy; or concealed in a holster, handbag or motor vehicle, ready to quick draw and double tap any foolhardy mugger, carjacker, terrorist, liberal, and perp thereof.
The rules of engagement are simple. Georgia has a “castle doctrine.” If threatened and not “engaged in illegal conduct at the time,” you can “stand your ground” and use “deadly force” (shoot first) to resolve the conflict. A permit to carry is almost a license to kill.
Contrary to what is going on in the rest of the United States –pressure for background checks, a federal assault-weapons ban and limits on high capacity magazines- Georgia is easing the rules that prevent some individuals, including those with a history of mental illness, from getting licenses to carry firearms. The sovereign state is changing its laws to allow people to carry firearms, in spite of objections, in bars, airports and even churches.
All things considered, therefore, having a gun in America is better than not having a gun in America. Make no mistake, right or wrong, it will never be used to assault anyone (or shoot first) unless my “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” are threatened. Don’t blame me. Think of a society where the right to own a gun is part of its heritage and there are good reasons for hanging onto it. Or you could just blame Dad for my blunderbuss DNA.
"You've arrived. How lovely!"