Friday, September 5, 2008

The Making Of A Firearms Instructor - Part II

How I Went From Being A Crime Victim To Becoming A Firearms Instructor - Part 2

The First Step To Recovery Is Admitting That You Have A Problem

Many people, such as the person who I used to be, stand on the sidelines of the Second Amendment/gun ownership game until something adverse "happens" to them or to someone they know and value. Personally, I never had a "perceived" need for a handgun; I had previously viewed owning a gun as a novelty and perhaps a waste of hard earned cash. I had bought into all of the misleading anti-gun propaganda being spewed vociferously by various people and "special interests" with hidden agendas.

I never bothered to research the facts on gun ownership for myself. I left that task up to other people to educate me through the media via so-called factoid public service announcements, speeches from various governmental officials who enact "feel good" legislation that doesn't work or conduct gun "buy-backs" that can't be objectively evaluated for effectiveness, and barbershop talk with many people in my community who discuss their feelings about guns rather than the honest-to-God facts. My problem was that I allowed others to do my thinking for me on the subject of guns. I have since "in-sourced" that function back to the person I trust the most: me.

Everybody Knows Everything Until Something Happens

Well, something did "happen" to me - I was robbed in my own back yard while parking my car in my garage. Prior to this event, I did not see myself as a potential victim. I have always been able to "hold my own and handle my business" whenever I needed to do so throughout my life. The mere idea that someone would have the audacity to size me up as a victim never crossed my mind. A gun in the hands of violent predators, who have no qualms about using violence or the threat of violence to accomplish their evil purposes, changes the natural order of the food chain. I then knew that I needed to make a few changes.

Consequently, I then chose to get on the playing field. To my surprise, I have been warmly greeted by the pro gun rights side and have been consequently shunned by the "guns are evil" side. Making the decision to own a firearm makes you a gun nut in the eyes of many ignorant people.

The uninformed and unenlightened folk will treat you differently and are prone to making snide comments about you. They'll either tell you that they don't "need" a gun because of where they live or they'll demonstrate some Kung Fu disarmament moves they learned from playing Tekken on their PlayStation2 video game console. They couldn't possibly be more wrong. However, I'll patiently wait until "something" happens to them and I'll forget and forgive all of the ignorant things that they said and welcome them to the correct side.

A Journey Of A Thousand Miles Begins With One Step - Gun Ownership

Anyhow, after filing the crime report at my not-so-local neighborhood police station, I headed downtown to acquire a "Ten Day Purchase Permit." The Gun Licensing Department ran my background to see if I had any official governmental prohibitions - felonies - against owning a firearm. Of course, the check came back clean so I was issued the permit. I was now able to legally buy a gun within the next ten days. If I had failed to do so (buy a gun), I would have to come back downtown to repeat the process.

Next, I went to a local gun shop without haste and bought my first handgun. I didn't let the ominous signs - warning customers against pulling out guns because they might get shot - or the fact that all of the gunshop employees were openly carrying their guns on their hips, deter me. I had no idea of what to buy, so I bought the same gun that my brother-in-law owned. "If it was good enough for him, it must be good enough for me," I reasoned. I didn't originally plan on spending several hundreds of dollars on my purchase, but my first and only thought was to buy the best gun I could "afford" even if a few utility bills didn't get paid on time that month. My life and safety were worth a ding or two on my credit report.

In retrospect, the gun dealer didn't offer me a lot of informed customer service. To his credit, maybe he assumed, that since I was a guy, that I knew what I wanted. In fact, I didn't know much of anything. My ignorance was my fault. The dealer's fault was not asking me enough questions to allow him to best assess my needs. However, his insensitivity did not stop him from also suggesting additional purchases: jacketed hollow points and an inside-the-waist (IWB) holster.

Pure luck, it seems, brought a gun into my possession that fit my hand perfectly. I couldn't test fire it, as the shop didn't have a range. So I had to "take it on faith" that I could handle shooting it. I must have filled out a ream of paperwork that day; it was like closing on a house. Anyhow, it's funny now recounting the experience, but I was - in all truth - nervous while carrying my new encased gun from the back entrance of the shop to my car. I mused how ironic and funny it would be if I was to now be robbed of my new gun at the gun shop.

My next stop on my personal armament tour would be to venture back downtown to police headquarters to have my new firearm "safety inspected." Before having my gun inspected, I had no idea of what tests they were going to perform to properly test my gun. After they safety inspected my gun, I am still ignorant to the process even though I witnessed it with my very own eyes. Bottom line: by the time I left police headquarters this time, my name, my personal info, and the fact that I owned a handgun were now entered into a database.

On my departure from police headquarters I picked up a copy of an application for a Concealed Pistol License (CPL/CCW) from the front desk. I opened the enveloped and read the application. It was rather lengthy but informative. I figured that I would peruse it more thoroughly in my car. Right before I left the building, I asked a near-by police officer for a place where I could go and shoot my new gun. He specified a range and told me how to get there.

I'll Do Or Try Almost Anything Once - Even Shoot A Gun

So, my big adventure continued as I went to a local range to shoot a handgun for the very first time in my life. For the record, it is not recommended to visit a firing range without first taking a gun safety class or at the very least taking along a knowledgeable shooter with you. In fact, it is dangerous. I didn't know any better. You have read this passage, so now you know.

Ignorance kills. The Bible says, "My people perish for lack of knowledge."I didn't know what I didn't know. I was lucky. Any number of things, all of them bad, could have happened that day. Fortunately for me, I checked my ego at the door and asked someone behind the counter for help. I got a very basic introduction but critical 20 second tutorial: Don't load it until you are in the booth, Always keep the gun pointed downrange, Position your hands so that they are not in the path of the slide, and Unload the gun before you leave the booth.

I managed not to hurt myself or anyone else. However, if I had experienced a hangfire or a squib load in the booth, things may have turned out differently. I must say that I was rather proud of myself after shooting. Shooting was an enjoyable experience. It was a blast - pun intended. My adrenaline was pumping; I was high off of shooting a gun. I guess I had just found myself a new and exciting hobby.

As I was driving home from the range that afternoon, still mentally digesting the requirements for the CCW Permit, I had arrived at an intersection whereby the stoplight had just turned red. The car in front of mine had an advertisement on the back of it for a CCW Class. More than ever, I believe that when your mind is truly ready for something, the Lord will make it appear. This situation merely provided confirmation. I immediately called the displayed phone number and discovered that there was a class being held on the very next day. I RSVP'd and took the class on the very next day.

A Responsible Gunowner Needs Training

During the class, I learned a staggering amount of information about the safe usage, storage, loading, unloading, handling, purchasing, transporting, and maintenance of firearms. Before that day, I truly did not know how much I did not know about firearms.

I was introduced to the nomenclature of all of the firearm's constituent parts on both a revolver and a semi-automatic, learned how the parts inter-operated to create a discharge, learned the legal aspects of self defense and lethal force, learned how the media and "certain powers that be" distort the truth and spread outright lies about handguns, learned the proper fundamentals of shooting a firearm, learned a few shooting stances, and learned how to become a more hardened target.

More than anything, I was a little disheartened by my instructor's admonition that I was now not a gun-fighter. I was told in plain and in no uncertain language that I had now just met the state's minimum requirements to qualify for a CPL/CCW. Thus, I was just given another clue that there was much more to learn about firearms and their role in personal protection. I still didn't know what I didn't know. I then dedicated my spare time to devouring any literature that I could buy or find on the Internet that had anything to do with firearms and their role in personal protection.
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