Earlier this year I asked a friend if he would answer a couple of questions about his experience with firearms. Rich P. is a competitive pistol shooter living in Connecticut. He and I have agreed about some things and disagreed about others since we were first-years at university. I thought he'd have a reasonable presentation of firearms regulation that differs from mine, and he did not disappoint.
I have edited his responses only for Daily Parker site style and by adding links for context. Otherwise I have copied his responses in full.
How long have you been in competitive shooting? How did you get into it? How much safety training did you get? Do the ranges or competitions where you shoot have specific training or safety requirements?
I have been shooting competitively for 16 years. I compete in both Bullseye and USPSA-style matches. Bullseye is very much what you see at the Olympics: slow fire at targets generally 50 feet away. USPSA matches are more like simulated combat where you are shooting and reloading all on the move, while navigating through a structure and around barricades all the while engaging numerous targets.
I got into competitive shooting with the intent to use it as a training aid. Putting yourself on the clock adds just that little bit of extra stress which aids in helping you learn how to function under pressure.
Safety is paramount on any range I’ve ever been. To become a member of my club you first have to attend a mandatory four-hour safety meeting where all applicants are taught our club safety rules. We then take the applicants to the range and have them shoot a bullseye match with a senior club member standing behind them to help and instruct. After that applicants are required to attend three business meetings and three activity nights. At the business meetings applicants are constantly evaluated by senior members. Basically we’re looking to see if the applicant can work within club rules and they don’t have a screw loose, so to speak.
My club offers different styles of gun matches. Once the applicant chooses his style of match he is then taught all the ins and outs of that style. Monday nights are the most difficult and demanding. This is the USPSA match I mentioned earlier. The applicant will be taught how to properly load and unload his weapon, muzzle discipline, drawing from the holster and most importantly how to do all of the above without putting holes in his feet.
Every match I have ever shot has had some kind of safety briefing.
We’ve had our differences over gun control in the past. For example, you expressed frustration once that taking your guns from Connecticut into New York was a problem because the two states have different rules on magazine sizes. Do you encounter regulation differences between states today, after Heller?
Other then securing my individual right to own a weapon, Heller has had very little effect in a pro-gun sense. In Heller, Scalia wrote that weapons in common use are protected under the Second Amendment. There are over 7 million AR-15s in private hands. I would say that is the very definition of in common use but numerous states still maintain an Assault Weapons ban in defiance of Heller.
Does your state require firearms or owners to be licensed? If so, how difficult is it to get one? Should it be harder or easier? How would you change the licensing requirements?
Connecticut has two levels of gun licensing. To just own a gun and go plinking on weekends a Connecticut resident has to have a gun license and a second license to purchase ammo. To get the gun license there is a written test and a fee. To get the ammo license requires a fee and a current license. I went to the next level, which is a concealed carry license. To obtain that requires close to $300 in fees and mandatory 8 hour class. The upside is Concealed Carry License (CCL) holders do not have to obtain the ammo permit. The license is good for 5 years and can be renewed for a fee of $75. The whole process to obtain a CCL is about 4 months. During that time I had to photographed, fingerprinted, and take the course I explained earlier. I found the process thorough but not to much of a burden. That said with the amount of info I had to turn over if I ever broke bad it would take the cops about 5 minutes to pick me up because the state knows everything about me. There would be nowhere to hide. I don’t think there is anything I would change to the existing licensing schemes.
It’s hard to define “assault weapon” but let’s call it a large-capacity, lightweight, semi-automatic rifle designed primarily as an antipersonnel weapon. For example, the AR-15’s designer intended it to replace the M-14 for American infantry units, and said he couldn’t imagine any civilian needing one. Should we regulate or even prohibit these kinds of weapons?
I don’t believe AR-15s should be banned. Semi-automatic rifles we’re available to the civilian market close to 40 years before being adopted by the military. A lot of people think it was the other way around. I’ve spoken with many anti-gun people and they all operate on this simplistic thinking that if you get rid of the weapons there will be a reduction in crime. What they don’t realize is if they change the law only the law abiding will follow. The criminals will keep theirs and the result will be a disarmed populous in even more danger from a now even more aggressive criminal class.
On top of that anti-gunners are not going to stop with just banning the AR. I have had anti-gunners say straight up banning the AR is a good start but in the end they want everything gone. For seventy years, from the 1934 Taylor Law [I think he meant the National Firearms Act of 1934—TDP], to the 1968 Gun Control Act, to the 1986 [Firearm Owners Protection Act], to finally the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, government has been trying to solve the problem through infringement on rights and property and obviously that is not working. Time for something else.
What infuriates me the most is the lying of the current administration. Saying the 2nd isn’t an absolute is pure bullshit. The 2nd is there as a check on overreaching Federal power. It has absolutely nothing to do with hunting. If I hear one more stupid joke about a deer wearing Kevlar I’m going to lose my mind. At the time of The Revolution private citizens could own warships, get themselves a contract with the colonial Congress and then go privateering hitting British ships at sea. Also spreading fear and telling people that a 9mm round will blow a lung out of the body is offensive to people who know what they’re talking about. Now would I want to be hit with a 9mm round, oh hell no. That said putting that level of disinformation into the world is helping no one.
Anti-gunners also talk about the success of Australia and their gun buy back program. First off how can the government buy back something that wasn’t theirs in the first place? Also they call it a buy back but what it really was a voluntary gun confiscation. If an Australian citizen choose not to sell his guns to the gov’t then he was thrown in jail. Twenty years on we find the Australian gov’t moving people into camps against their will because of a disease that is 99% survivable. Politicians get all kinds of strange ideas once gov’t has a monopoly on force.
Do you identify with a political party? Did you support one of the candidates in the 2020 election?
To your last question I am currently a registered Republican. I was a Democrat until my mid thirties. I voted for Clinton twice and Al Gore in 2000. Having to go through the recession in the early 90’s caused by Bush 41 there was no way in hell I was going to vote for his idiot son Bush 43. Hell I even voted for Hillary Clinton when see ran for the Senate. What I found later was I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me.
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I'll follow up with Rich soon, and I'll have some things to say about a few of his specific points. I'm grateful for his participation.