I was lucky enough to be in California before Christmas – been doing a lot of travelling lately – and got a chance to call into the LAX gun range to shoot some handguns – .22 calibre revolvers and Glock and Sig Sauer 9 mm semi-automatic handguns to be exact.
(You’d never guess I spent most of my teenage years playing DOOM, would you?)
It might seem weird to be a card carrying leftie – a tree-hugging pseudo-hippie with distinctly pinko leanings – yet also be into guns. However, I’ve no problem seperating the political ideology that goes with gun culture (particularly in the US) from the enjoyment of practicing the technical skill of firing them accurately. To me there is no difference between a handgun and a bow and arrow, or a cross bow, other than the fact that one can be more rapidly deployed as a weapon. However, that said, I find gun culture mostly repugnant.
Because these are dangerous objects, I’m perfectly happy that access to them is restricted in the country I live in. In LA, I thorougly enjoyed the time I spent shooting – if you get a chance, go for it, it’s a blast – but it was also slightly scarey to realise that in Ireland, the odds of you having a gun pointed at you are extremely remote unless you’re involved in the drugs trade or organised crime. In personal crime – muggings and handbag thefts – guns aren’t for the most part used, but in LA, it’s much more likely that a street mugger will be carrying a gun. The police have to make a whole series of different presumptions regarding the level of threat suspects present to them.
I think the society I live in is much richer for the restrictions we have here. The price of these restrictions mean that I can’t own or keep an automatic handgun in my home, but I’m also glad that I don’t feel like I need to. Shooting paper targets is really fun though.