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No One Has Pointed a Gun at Me in Years

(Posted by guest blogger Steve Hendrix) The first question on my first Raw Fisher posting, was "How are you on guns?" I had declared independence from my colleague and idol Marc Fisher on dogs, cats and taxi meters, and this commenter was trying to find some air between us on the Second Amendment

Fair enough. Guns are always good for some civil and measured discourse. So on a week when Congressional Democrats find themselves unable to keep their pandering paws off the District's registration laws, herewith are ten things I think about guns.

1. I like them. They're fun to shoot. As a son of small-town Georgia, rifles and shotguns were all over my house and the houses of most of my friends, neighbors and classmates, black and white. I got my own first gun, a single-shot .22, when I was 10. My mother, a single parent, kept a .38 revolver in her dresser drawer. I remember playing with it when she wasn't around.

2. I wouldn't have a handgun in my house now, mainly because I remember playing with my mom's .38 when she wasn't around.

3. I have gotten the drop, bullet-wise, on one rabbit, one deer, 13 quail ("plantation-raised," which I nailed for a story on fake quail hunting a week after Vice President Cheney's misfire in Texas) and about 200 rusty tin cans. I didn't eat the rabbit, which I'm ashamed of, but I did cure the pelt and keep it on my dresser for years.

4. I've had guns pointed at me three times. Once in the Atlanta home of my brother in the late 1980s, when I came to town after midnight without notice, let myself in the back door with the hidy-key and found myself face-to-face with my bro, in his robe and holding that same .38 that had belonged to my mother. Once again in a jungle in northeastern Cambodia with a wildlife documentary team traveling in the company of a security detail made up of former Khmer Rouge guerillas, when the film crew's sound technician crawled up into the elephant houda with me scrambling behind him. I looked up and he was standing unsteadily on the stock of a loaded AK47 and I was eye-to-eye to with the scary end of it. And once on the corner of Park Road and 18th Street, N.W., in 1991, when a hood in a hood pointed his piece at my face and asked for my wallet.

5. I think most gun bans, including Washington's, are patently unconstitutional. And I'm too much a groupie of the First Amendment, which I love, to feel comfortable flouting the Second, which I don't.

6. I would happily see the Constitution amended to allow outright bans of handguns and assault weapons. It's a different world than the one the Framers were writing for.

7. I'v known three people who had their lives ended or ruined by handguns: a delightful high school classmate who was abducted, sexually assaulted and shot in the head near Americus, Georgia, pop. 18,000, in the early '80s. 2, A troubled friend and father of four who offed his coke dealer in early 2000. 3, A family friend, Anne Marie Fahey, who was killed by her boyfriend in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1996.

8. I've never personally known anyone who was saved from harm or attack by a handgun.

9. I think if everybody had a handgun a lot of would-be killers would be shot, which would be satisfying. And I think a vastly greater number of petty crooks, spouses, innocent strangers and children who like to play in their parents' dressers would be shot, which would be unspeakably tragic.

10. I think that I and the House Democrats should keep our opinions out of the District's gun laws. It's not our city.

Ain't consistency grand?

By Steve Hendrix |  August 6, 2008; 4:53 PM ET
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

DC is every US citizens city. DC should not and never should have home rule.

Congress should run DC.

If you dont like it move and take up guns and start a revolution.

Elected DC reps for the last 20 years have demonstrated that they are too stupid to run DC. The electorate by not demanding better schools and more accountability out of there elected officals in DC has demonstrated they are too stupid to decide who will run their city. And lets not even talk about having the most corrupt and inept police dept in the US for last 40 years.

So they get a bunch of idiots in Congress as their overseers! Enjoy!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 6, 2008 8:24 PM

Steve- Thanks for the post. I appreciate the honest thought that went into writing it.

Posted by: Downtown Rez | August 6, 2008 11:38 PM

you'll shoot your eye out

Posted by: Norm | August 7, 2008 8:49 AM

"10. I think that I and the House Democrats should keep our opinions out of the District's gun laws. It's not our city."

This is where you lost it and lost your consistency (with number 5). If you'd remember there is more to the constitution than the first and second amendment, you'd know that.

Article I, Section 8, Clause 17: "To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;"

What does "exercise exclusive legislation in ALL cases whatsoever" mean to you? Home rule is simply a liberty that Congress has granted the District, but Congress has the constitutional power to "interfere" in the city all it wants. They've done so with legislation on taxi meters (or the threat of thereof) and if they so chose will do so with gun legislation.

Ain't the constitution grand?

Posted by: Terry | August 7, 2008 11:39 AM

Gun issues, like so many other issues in life, are full of paradoxes--something which the extremists on any sides of these issues fail to acknowledge.

In other words, most of life is varying shades of gray. Very little of it is black or white.

Posted by: cb | August 7, 2008 11:44 AM

Guns are money. The NRA makes money by pushing guns, the makers sell guns. The average gun nut spends 47 days a year sitting in the tv chair stroking his favorute gun.

Without guns society would murder with knives,baseball bats-anything that would get the job done.

That would make some pretty gory front page pictures.

Posted by: Walter | August 7, 2008 1:10 PM

Murder with bats and knives at least takes skill and some courage. You need to be so close as to actually face your enemy and risk injury yourself. Wildly firing into a crowd is an act of cowardice.

So, to non-DC people: why the sudden concern for the welfare and rights of DC residents? Does it actually harm you in some way if the DC handgun ban stays in effect? Given the distaste I read about the city in these comments, wouldn't you be happier if we continued to oppress ourselves and remain the "murder capitol of the world?"

My experience, limited to firing ranges (both handguns and rifles), is that handguns are less accurate. I have not participated in any urban firefight, but also don't see our troops choosing a pistol as their primary weapon in Baghdad. The only advantage I can see to a handgun is concealability, which implies the intent to carry outside the home, which is no longer defensive, and increases the chance it will get stolen. The semi-auto limitation only restricts the damage such a weapon can do if it fell into the wrong hands.

Somebody step up and explain, without refering to the constitution or other legal document, in plain english: what is it a semi-automatic handgun can do that a revolver, rifle, or shotgun can not for home defence.

Posted by: Puzzled | August 7, 2008 1:41 PM

Hmmm, let's see, just as much far-left extremist claptrap as when Fisher is here. The Constitutional questions have been answered, so I'll focus on the mechanical and statistical questions.

1) Big deal, you don't "know" anyone who has saved themselves with a firearm. I don't "know" anyone who saved someone with CPR, but I still recommend people learn. And yes, doing CPR wrong can kill the patient. Bonus: I've had two family members shot, one fatally, due to involvement in the NYC "gang and drug club." And know no-one who "saved" themselves (outside of a combat zone).

2) "Assault weapons" are whatever the gun-banners feel like banning this week. As Charles Ramsey recently said in his stint as Philly Police chief, "I don't care if (a particular gun) is on the list (of banned "assault weapons"), ban the frickin' thing."

3) Murder with bats and knives takes all the skill and courage of a 13 year old girl or 45 year old homeless junkie. Even better, as the recent murders in PG County show, you don't even need knives or bats because just hands and feet alone will do.

4) I care about the citizens of DC as much as the earnest youngsters around here care about the people of Tibet or Darfur. Maybe those earnest youngsters should pick a new cause?

5) Handguns are "less accurate" at defensive distances (less than 30 feet) because YOU need more practice. No ding on you, just how it is. Rifles shoot roughly the same diameter bullet (around .30 caliber) as a 9mm handgun, so you need to aim them as well. Within 30 feet, buckshot or any other shot fired from a shotgun doesn't yet have time to spread more than the .65 inch diameter of a 12 gauge barrel.

6) Semi-Auto handguns are carried by the military right out in the open as defensive backup weapons, so the "concealability" argument isn't that persuasive. Plus, tank crews, aircrews, and medics have the pistol as their primary weapon, with some of these folks later getting issued rifles on a case-by case basis as the mission requires.

7) Semi-auto handguns have less recoil than revolvers, which translates into more accuracy since the gun isn't flying all over the place with each shot. Semi-autos also have more then just 6 shots, so you have more options available if you need more than six shots to deal with more than one threat at a time.

8) Most shotgun or rifle ammo is more powerful than pistol ammo, which means the rifle bullets and shotgun slugs or shot will pass through walls the handgun bullet won't. The last thing I would want is a neighbor in the next apartment blasting a one-ounce lead slug of .65 caliber, a load of 00 buckshot (nine 9mm pellets), or 147 grain .308 caliber rifle round through the wall.

9) I almost forgot - the NRA is a membership organization that only takes real people as members, not "corporations." Claiming the NRA "pushes guns" is as bizarre as the claim that the ACLU "pushes internet porn."

Hope this helps!

Posted by: K-Romulus | August 7, 2008 4:03 PM

Puzzled: The answer is simple. A semi-auto pistol is the fastest to load. Speed loaders for revolvers are not as reliable. Pistols are easier to use in the crowded conditions you find in most homes - hallways, furniture, etc. Rifles and shotguns are harder to load and conceal from the kids.

When you are under attack in your own home, the last thing you need to worry about is getting the gun loaded. Semi-auto’s make it simple.

Slap in the clip, pull/release the slide and safety, and the bad guy doesn’t need a lawyer anymore talking about his deprived childhood where his mommy and daddy didn’t give him a pony when he was 10 years old so he should be forgiven for shooting your wife and kids.

Posted by: DC Voter | August 8, 2008 8:51 AM

"...Rifles and shotguns are harder to load and conceal from the kids...."
Nothing can be concealed from kids- Don't fool yourself. Any parent paying $0.02 of attention knows that's the truth.

Posted by: downtown rez | August 8, 2008 6:26 PM

Daddy you write awesome blogs and youre not a "far left extremist claptrap" Good Job!

Posted by: izzz | August 9, 2008 11:08 AM

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