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As Long as We Remember...

July 7, 2008

Firearms Clutching in Maryland

Steven R. Berryman

Having grown up with guns, little did I know that the politics surrounding them packed more energy than a .44 Magnum “wheel-gun.” Of course, that was when television came in over an antenna, was black and white, and afforded four stations of programming.


We were all “programmed.” John Wayne almost never went anywhere without a handgun or rifle, unless he had a whole warship. Even then, the Navy offered up a Colt .45 automatic to the men.


The entire fantasy genre of the Western was predicated on the association between man and gun. Between Gunsmoke, Bonanza, and The Rifleman, there was an overt connection made between heroes and their firearms.


Hollywood was so hooked on these Western formulas that when Gene Roddenberry pitched the first pilot episodes for Star Trek to the network executives, the content was so far out that he had to use “Wagon Train to the Stars” as his analogy.


Little did they know how much social commentary was hidden in this show, masquerading as science fiction. Phasers hid an agenda that may be viewed as Shakespearian 100 years from today.


But forget phasers; I wanted the real deal, and started with a pellet rifle first, and a bolt action 7mm Magnum rifle on my 18th birthday. A present from me to me!


Didn’t shoot it much, as it was far too powerful for any use in Maryland. But I enjoyed the clutching. As I learned about the National Rifle Association (NRA), I was to be drawn to the United States Constitution and politics by guns.


The Second Amendment drew me in. I was fascinated by the fact that our “Framers” and Founding Fathers added it in second, immediately after the right to free speech! There was an automatic association there…that told me that someday it was assumed that guns would have to protect free speech.


From a tyrannical government? From foreign invasion? From burglars and villains? Take you pick.


We know now that citizens were intended to own guns, not only militias, as expressed in the recent landmark decision by the U. S. Supreme Court in DC v. Heller.


For practice, one could travel to Warrenton, VA, to Clark Brothers and shoot for free pretty easily, just buy your ammunition from them is all they ask. The outdoor range out back was the scene for lots of camaraderie, male bonding, and target shooting.


Remember well that any transportation of firearms to a range must include complete unloading, and keep a trigger lock on. Keep any ammunition stored in a totally separate place, such as in a trunk, assuming your firearms are in the back seat.


Turning 21 in Maryland means you can own the coveted handgun. This right of passage comes with more added responsibility, as they are much more dangerous than long-guns in so many ways.


A 9mm Smith and Wesson 39-2 nickel finish and walnut grips was my first. The U.S. Air Force used these for security, and do to this day. It is a double-action semi-automatic and just looks very cool. Fun to target shoot, but not that accurate over 15 yards.


Should you ever take on this awesome responsibility, get with all of the rules first. The state will require you to view training videos as a condition of your purchase, and you will undergo a background check.


Previous court convictions and mental health records come into play. The National Crime Information System database will be looked into, and there is a mandatory waiting period.


The crew at Atlantic Guns in Rockville is wonderful. Take a ride there and ask lots of questions if you are at all interested. The window-shopping is half the fun while you learn.


The best rules to observe with any firearm are to always assume a weapon is loaded, and handle it as such, even when you know it is not. Never point a gun at anything you don’t intend to shoot. Point away and in a safe direction at all times, unless you plan to fire it.


Store guns unloaded, hidden, and in a secure location, and even then use trigger locks as additional safety. The exception is a high quality quick release safe, specifically for home protection, if you are so inclined.


In Maryland, you must retreat to the furthest reaches of your house, and be prepared to prove that your life was in danger in any such protective use.


After my first purchases and range time, bolt action Remington rifles became my passion. The 700 series were our original Marine sniper rifles as pressed into service. Our modern military still uses highly refined derivates of this one in .308 caliber for some applications, as do S.W.A.T. police teams.


You can get one of these in a standard civilian version for hunting – or target shooting – at very reasonable price; and out-of-the-box accuracy with a good scope can put the same bullet through the same hole two out of three times at 100 yards.


View firearms as an awesome responsibility. Risks therein can be properly managed as in piloting a plane or riding a motorcycle. Extra vigilance is essential.


Firearms can be viewed through many a lens. They can protect you and your way of life. They stand as a symbol of our very independence. They contain history and ties to your past. Their very legality acts as a deterrent to criminals. And of course, it is fundamental to our very Constitution.


“An armed society is a polite society,” according to writer Robert Heinlein.


See: for more.


Yellow Cab
The Morning News Express with Bob Miller
The Covert Letter

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