This is just a quick follow-up to my last post. I live in the South and pretty much all my cow orkers are country boys (who will describe themselves as “rednecks” with a smile) who love to hunt. I was curious as to what those guys thought about the prospect of increased gun control.
The first thing I learned is that gun stores around here have been sucked virtually dry of guns and ammo. One of my workmates has a brother-in-law with a gun shop, and he told me that a stock of about 150 handguns prior to the Newtown massacre is now down to single digits. 9mm ammo is very very thin on the ground – the only kind his BIL had left was hollowpoints, “mushroomers” as he called them, which he wasn’t interested in because they’re too expensive and he doesn’t actually want to kill anyone.
Now, these are handguns we’re talking about, not hunting weapons. There are still plenty of rifles and shotguns to be had. This is anecdotal of course, but that suggested to me that the “law-abiding hunters have rights too” meme isn’t really much more than a figleaf. It’s mostly antipersonnel weaponry that people around here are afraid of losing.
I asked my gun-loving friends why they thought gun sales were up so sharply; surely, I pointed out, anyone around these parts who felt they needed any particular gun would already own one. I could understand stockpiling ammo, if you were paranoid about imminent new controls, but guns last for generations – even if they stopped selling them tomorrow, the ones you have aren’t going anywhere so why suddenly buy more of them?
I did get one good answer: speculation. The one with the brother-in-law had picked up a second-hand Glock 9mm because he figured he could sell it on as a private individual and at *least* make his money back as long as gun control was on the legislative agenda. He then added with a grin, “If they do pass anything serious I’ll make a killing.”
I asked him what he thought of closing that so-called “gun show” loophole to prevent private sales like that. He shrugged and said it wasn’t anything he made regular money at, and his brother-in-law would be delighted.
I went on to ask their opinions on the laundry list of what I consider sensible gun laws detailed in my last post – gun licenses with required safety training and proficiency testing renewed at regular intervals, legal responsibility for damages caused by weapons you failed to maintain or keep under control, liability insurance required to cover same, a limitation on hardware with military-level firing rates and magazine capacities, and serialized ammunition.
(As a point of consideration, I suggested that the licensing should cost the same as their current hunting and fishing licenses. I took a wild stab and equated the insurance costs to those of a fishing boat.)
Guess what? They had no squawk with any of that. None of them has a burning desire for fully automatic weapons or 100-round magazines, they recognized that it wouldn’t hurt to have insurance for gun accidents especially if the cost were made low by including all gun owners in the insurance pool, all were more than happy to prove their proficiency with their chosen firearms, they already keep their guns either under their personal control or under lock and key as a matter of common sense, and none of them cared a whit whether there were serial numbers on their ammo since they don’t intend to use them illegally.
Finally, after a bit of discussion they all recognized that most of the people who oppose such regulations are fighting for the right to keep and bear arms *irresponsibly* and without due care and attention for the consequences.
That’s anecdotal as all hell, and the sample size is a nonrepresentative handful and thus not exactly statistically significant, but I take some small bit of encouragement from that response anyway!