Brad Job: A Plug For Guns

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A plug for guns

It is hard to admit in Arcata, but I love guns; at least a few of them. My dad was a sharpshooter in the US Marines and fought in the Korean War. As a Marine in the 1950s, he also got to witness an atom bomb explosion from a nearby trench (I bet he loved it). A decade later, after he went to college and when I was three months old, he died in an accident near Mercury, Nev., where he was working on the “big guns,” atomic bombs (loved his job).

I hate nuclear weapons and the collective sense of gloom they have inspired in humanity for 68 years. In 1965, my mother was a widow with several semesters of home economics, her Mrs. degree, and three children at the age of 30. We subsequently moved from Las Vegas, Nev. to Plainview, Texas to be near family. All of the men in my family were avid hunters and made certain that I started hunting as soon as they thought I was competent. Once they thought I knew what Dad’s military medals were about, they gave them to me (love them).

When I was 10 I got a brand new single shot .410 shotgun (didn’t love it) and at 12, my grandfather gave me my dad’s 20-guage double barrel (the gun I love the most). When I turned 18 my mother gave me my dad’s High Standard .22, a match pistol that any target shooter would adore (love it a lot). Those medals, two guns, and his dog-tag are my most tangible connections to the father I never got to know. Thus, my love for guns.

Despite all of my relatives’ mutual derision, I also felt compelled to join the military. I chose the Navy (love the ocean), where in addition to my day job as a periscope and gun-sight mechanic, I was required to pack around quite a bit of firepower for four hours every two or four days, while I stood watch over the nuclear weapons spaces aboard my first ship, the USS Proteus. Despite my hatred of the cost, waste and collateral damage of the Cold War and the pervasive feeling of doom that emanates from every single nuclear weapon, I never doubted that I could shoot a marauder to protect them.

As depressing as it is that the US has wasted so much money (and lives) on our useless nuclear stockpile, it would be way more saddening if some crazy nihilist got ahold of a bomb. Because of those ramifications, and in spite of many midwatches (midnight to 4 a.m., hated them), I loved that Beretta 9mm (especially compared to the inaccurate Colt .45) and the short-barreled S&W shotgun with a big magazine (who needs accuracy?). That particular watch-post gave me the best conceivable rationale to shoot another person with perfect black and white certitude. “No, you may not have our nukes, for the rest of your life.” Such certainty is exceedingly rare in current times.

In my opinion, other than the military and a few law enforcement operations, every person’s decision to pull the trigger of a gun pointed even in the general direction of another person is in the darkest black part of the gray zone. I oppose the death penalty, drone strikes, and all wars that cannot be walked to (except for maybe Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam (loved it), and the Aleutian Islands) because killing people is wrong, fraught with bad consequences, counterproductive, and inordinately expensive.

Texas and many other states require a plug to be installed in all shotgun magazines to limit their capacity to three rounds when hunting migratory birds, just to be sporting about it. It just seems sporting that if you are hunting other peoples’ loved ones, you should get only 10 shots before having to pause to reload. Although I am not especially well traveled, in my experience, the more military-grade weapons you see openly carried about in a country, the more it seems like a war zone. War zones are places most rational people decide to flee from, unless bound by an oath.

I love the Constitution and Bill of Rights (warlords hate that stuff). I served my country in a place that seemed similar enough to a war zone to earn me a U.S. Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, which means I can join the VFW (but love VFP). I’m still a good shot, but I don’t mind spending a few seconds reloading if that will keep tragedies like Sandy Hook, Aurora, or Tucson from happening again. I never want the United States (love it) to feel more like a war zone (hate them) than it already does.

I’m confident that I will never understand why anyone in civil society, other than a sociopath, is so passionate about their need for huge magazines. I understand the ammo manufacturers’ business case for big magazines, which is not unlike oil companies wanting Detroit to keep making gas guzzlers. Most of the countries on Earth where military guns with giant magazines full of ammo are pervasive are hell-holes.

Why on Earth would anyone with even a tiny amount of love for our country want it to become a hell-hole like Sudan, Afghanistan, Congo, Iraq, or dozens of other despotic countries brimming with hatred, guns, ammo, dead bodies and grieving families? And if you think that your cute little AR-15 with its drum magazine (that you love) is going to stop the U.S. military or the even UN from putting its boot on your throat, you’ve probably never seen a 50 caliber Gatling-gun spew 600 rounds of depleted uranium a minute (which you’ll hate, for a second).

Please support banning future sales of high-capacity magazines for the love of our country.

 Brad Job is an Arcata resident.