Over the past two days, I ran a series of blog posts about common sense and the Second Amendment. I didn’t initially set out to host a series, but the voices that rose in response to my first article are just too important to keep silent. Today I’m featuring guest blogger Craig Harbision, who is one of the top machinima producers and contest sponsors in the community. He’s also a Marine (ex-Marine if there were such a creature, but I’ve heard they don’t exist. Once a Marine, always a Marine, right?) He tells a fascinating and enlightening story about his experience with firearms and gun laws. His words initially appeared in the comment section of Sandy Hook, The Second Amendment, And The Walking Dead Zombie Disease, but since many people read only the main article and skip the comments, he agreed to let me publish them in the form of a guest post.
A quick note of interest before his post, though, is a video shared on Facebook by Kristine Lee, another incredible machinima director and someone I consider to be a personal friend. I did a little digging into the authenticity of this video and am happy to report it is 100% legit. An ABC News article covered the story in July of this year.
(Sound effects have been added but the video is original footage from the internet cafe security cameras.)
A VOICE FROM THE MIDDLE
I am neither a liberal nor a conservative, pacifist nor war-monger, pro-gun nor anti-gun control. I would classify myself as a little of each.
I spent 14 years in the Marine Corps. I served proudly and honorably. I was trained in the use, care and respect of several different types of rifles and pistols. Before entering service I had only shot a weapon a couple times. My dad owned 2 firearms, a .22 longrifle and a 12 ga. shotgun. He never talked about them. He never let me shoot one nor did he ever train me on their use. His only words on the subject were “Stay out of my closet, keeps your hands off them or I will turn your ass so red you won’t be able to sit for the rest of your life”. Needless to say, I went into his closet several times to look at, to hold and to feel those guns.
I was 17 the first time I fired a weapon. I was living in Arizona working as a mechanic at a gas station at the time. It was a Mini 14 owned by a coworker and his family. I went out with them a few times to ride the sand buggies, atv’s and just have fun. On one trip, they brought along the Mini 14. Kevin instructed me how to hold it, point it, where the safety was, everything about the rifle and it’s power. I finally learned to respect the weapon and know what it could really do. It took a friend instead of a father to educate me. I never said it before but in reality, my dad failed me by not teaching about the weapons.
I have owned several rifles and pistols over the years. The first one was a Ruger Blackhawk revolver. I bought it right after my 21st birthday in 1982. I took it out for target practice several times in Virginia with some fellow Marines. I became a very good shot with it. I did get a scare once, but not from firing it. I was driving to the area we shot our weapons one Saturday when I was pulled over by a local cop. There was something wrong with one of my tail lights if I remember correctly. While talking to me about the infraction he noticed my gun case on my passenger seat. He ordered me out of the vehicle and proceeded to open the case. He commented on my choice of weapons and we briefly talked about it. He then informed me that he was supposed to confiscate the pistol and issue me a ticket. What did I do wrong? I did not have a trigger lock on the pistol. A trigger lock is just that: a lock that attached to the trigger and trigger guard to prevent the trigger from being pulled. It required a key to remove it. He ‘cut me husk’ and gave me a chance to coply with the laws at the time. He said that I was to get a lock within a week, call him or show up at the station and prove to him that I had indeed bought the lock or he would issue the ticket and come after me to get the weapon. Legally he should have taken the pistol and given me a ticket but as a young Marine (he was a former Marine) he gave me the chance.
Was the officer right or wrong? Both. He was supposed to enforce the law but bent it in my case. That brings me to my main point. Gun laws. In the United States, between local, state and Federal levels, there are over 1000 laws pertaining to firearms on the books. Less than 10% are enforced. If the laws in place were more stringently enforced, I am sure there would be less firearm related incidents taking place. Adding new laws or restrictions will do nothing as long as the people entrusted to enforce the laws don’t. As has been mentioned by you and others, banning the weapons won’t solve the problem either since those who don’t care about the laws, or are ignorant of them (as I was with the trigger lock) will still be able to get the weapons and use them as they see fit.