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  The Chatter Box : Blathering On
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Guns, gun laws, etc. by JHorst on 4 February 2008 4:12pm
I will respond to the questions as best as possible.

1. I do not know why people like guns, but some of the reasons why customers visit the gun range, and buy firearms have been articulated to me as follows:
A. They enjoy the shooting sports, just like someone enjoys Tennis or Golf.
B. They find shooting firearms thrilling.
C. They feel that they need/want a firearm for home protection, or to protect themselves while conducting business. (Citizens can obtain a permit to carry a firearm in the US, and the laws vary by state.)
D. Young people, especially, like to shoot the firearms that they see in the movies.

As far as legally purchasing firearms:
There are Federal Firearms laws and State firearms laws. States may enact stricter laws, but they must, at a minimum comply with Federal laws. In order to buy a firearm, according to Federal law, one must fill out an application, known as a form 4473. The retailer must contact the FBI, via telephone, and report the information about the applicant. The FBI conducts an instant background check and determines whether the application is a "proceed", "deny", or "hold". If one receives a "Proceed", they may take the firearm home the same day, unless there are state restrictions, precluding them from doing so.

In Maryland, if one wants to purchase a longgun, (rifle or shotgun), only the Federal law applies. If one wants to purchase a "regulated firearm" as deemed by the State of Maryland, they must complete a Maryland Appliciation as well as a Federal Application, and wait 7 days to purchase the firearm. The background checks are pretty comprehensive, and criminals and people who are mentally unstable are denied approval. The retailer MAY NOT release the firearm to the customer when this occurs.

All that said, there are still ways that firearms get into unauthorized hands. One way is called a Straw Purchase, which is when a person who may not legally own a firearm gets his friend or family member to purchase the firearm, and then hands it over to the unathorized person. This is a serious crime, and when people are caught engaging in it, they go to Federal prison.
Another way, of course is on the black market. Remember folks, that it is estminated that there are several hundred million firearms in the US, nearly one for every person in the country! That is a lot of stuff to be potentially stolen and resold on the black market.
Another method for criminals to get hold of firearms is to conduct "smash and grab" robberies, whereby they steal a large truck and drive it into a building, jump out and grab as many firearms as possible. These firearms are then sold on the black market.

Our process for selling firearms in the US is pretty comprehensive, but as with any process, there can be failures. And of course, someone with a completely clean record and no history of mental illness, can use a firearm for the wrong reasons. There was recently a case in Florida where a couple was separated, and the wife tried to get a restraining order against the husband, and the reveiwing judge did not deem it appropriate. The husband purchased a handgun, took it to his wife's place of employement and shot her to death. If the restraining order was issued, the husband would not have passed the background check,and would not have been permitted to buy the firearm.

I am being very careful not to engage in arguing for or against firearm ownership, as that must be decided by the individual, and voted upon. But I can tell you that, as we have several women participants on this board, that many women come to the gun range because they want to learn to protect themselves. If one is not a pacifist, and one feels that it is appropriate to defend oneself, then a firearm can be an excellent equalizer between a 120lb woman and a 200lb man. Remember too that much of our country is rural and suburban. If someone is breaking into one's home, it takes approximately 15 minutes for our police to arrive on the scene of the crime. A lot of mahem occur in that time. At our gun range, we always tell folks that the need to do a lot of soul searching before they purchase a firearm. They need to decide which is stronger, "fight or flight". If it is the former, then a firearm might be a useful tool, if it is the latter then investment in a guard dog might be more practical.

I will say this one thing about violence in the US. I think it is important to realize that the vast majority of firearms deaths in this country involve criminals killing criminals. We seem to have a lot of organized crime in this country, and I don't mean the mafia, necessarily. There are many gangs in the US. They are constantly killing each other with firearms. I don't know that it is fair to characterize all of our citizenry as inherently violent, just because of the actions of these criminals.

Personally, I hate violence. I have never raised my hand against anyone, not even my eight year old daughter, which is supposed to be legal in most parts of the world. But I am NOT a pacifist, and I believe that evil people exist, and these people sometimes need to be stopped by violent means. I don't believe the method for delivery changes the outcome. Stopping an attack is still stopping an attack, whether it is with a baseball bat, hammer, machete, sword, or firearm.
Re: Guns, gun laws, etc. by johnnythemonkey on 5 February 2008 9:40am
Good post JHorst. I may not agree with it all ( surprised ? ) but it is a fact that there are hundreds of millions of guns in the U.S. It's hard to put the genie back in the bottle.
Here in Scotland, gun crime is still relatively rare and is almost always drug related. In England though, there has been a spate of shootings amongst youth gangs.
Re: Guns, gun laws, etc. by peripatetically on 5 February 2008 2:58pm
JHorst, how and why do you know so much about Maryland gun laws???? Just curious. Do you live here?
Re: Guns, gun laws, etc. by JHorst on 6 February 2008 2:14pm
I own a gun range, Peripatetically.
Re: Guns, gun laws, etc. by kazzzz on 6 February 2008 2:19pm
Ladies Night

Every Thursday Night????

Re: Guns, gun laws, etc. by JHorst on 6 February 2008 2:35pm
Ladies make the best shooters, Kazzzz. They have a steadier hand, and nothing to prove, and they listen to instruction better than men.
Re: Guns, gun laws, etc. by kazzzz on 6 February 2008 2:39pm
That's pretty much what my daughter's driving instructor said come to think if it...the girls listen.
Re: Guns, gun laws, etc. by JHorst on 6 February 2008 2:52pm
Really, really...
Re: Guns, gun laws, etc. by peripatetically on 6 February 2008 3:43pm
This is really interesting to me and also might be to you, too, JHorst.

I know a former champion shooter (many times over) from Munchen. He belonged to a shooting club either in Munich or nearby. I've been inside his clubhouse and saw the decorative targets and his weapons, even held some of them (crossbow was really really heavy). His picture has been on several shooting magazines which were displayed in there as well.

The day I was there his club was holding a picnic and he was presenting championship trophies to some of the other members. He was an officer in the club. He also won something that day too.

Having been to his home, I saw that his walls and shelves were lined with pewter trophies of every sort and he gave me one of them as a momento. It was a small engraved cup, but he had plates and bowels and all sorts of beautiful things. He pulled a huge box out from under a bed and it was also full of larege trophies and medals.

On another occasion while I was in Germany, I was at his house waiting for his return from a huge competition at the shooting range. He came home with 3 medals strung on ribbons around his neck. I tell ya, he was really good!!!!!! Handsome too! And he could sing beautifully. hahahahah. His nature was very dear, kind , generous and gentle.

I've written about him on this site in years past but none of you, except Kaz and Missy, were here then. He no longer lives in germany because he immigrated to Perth Australia back in the late 80's. It was a sad time when he showed us his plans for the new house he was having built over there. I figured I'd not see him again after that.

Oh, and he was not only the champion of Germany, but he won many European competitions as well.
Re: Guns, gun laws, etc. by JHorst on 6 February 2008 3:58pm
Thank you for sharing that story, Peripatetically. Again, I don't want to get into a contest regarding the virtues vs. the evils of firearms, but your story illustrates that we gun owners/enthusiasts are not all monsters...
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