Sunday, February 11, 2007


Buying My First Gun

When I bought my first gun, it felt like buying my first porn magazine when I turned 18, or buying alcohol for the first time when I was 21. It felt like I was doing something that "decent" people didn't do, so I should be ashamed, but I was legally eligible to do it, so I did it anyway. Even though I'm 40 years old, I'm still worried about being judged by people behind cash registers.

I had rented a Glock 19 at the range, and decided that I wanted to buy one. I asked the clerk behind the counter if they had any in stock, and he found one. As a newbie to the gun world, I didn't really know how to determine if the gun he showed me was any good, so I just said "Yeah, I'll take it." The Glock 19 with serial number KNN067 became mine.

From that point, the only legal obstacle was the NICS, the National Instant Criminal Background Check. I had to fill out a form with my name, address, and other identifying information, and the clerk copied that into a web page. We then twiddled our thumbs for about ten minutes until the result came back indicating that I was OK to buy a gun. The whole time, I was worried that there might be something bad on my criminal record that I didn't know about.

In addition to the pistol, I also bought a holster and some cleaning supplies. I asked the clerk if I needed a locked case or anything to transport the gun from the store to my home, and he recited Georgia law about carrying or transporting a weapon in my car. I felt a little ashamed that I hadn't reviewed the law before deciding to buy the gun—I felt like an idiot as I received the lecture.

I took the gun (cased, unloaded) out to my car, and then drove toward home. Along the way, I stopped at Wal*Mart to buy some ammunition. When I parked in the Wal*Mart lot, I transferred the gun from its case into my glove compartment, locking the glove compartment, and making sure that nobody in the parking lot saw me. I entered the store, and went to the sporting-goods section. As I stood at the sporting-goods counter, again I felt like I was buying porn or drugs or something else that I should be ashamed of, but I bought some range ammo (cheap) and some "personal defense" ammo (hollow-point, expensive). I constantly had the feeling that somebody would tell me that I was doing something bad, but that never happened.

I was very self-conscious as I carried the Glock-logoed case and bags of ammo from my car up to my apartment. Once I made it inside, I felt safe, but the whole process of carrying a gun from the point-of-purchase to my home was nerve-wracking.

When I got home, I cleaned the gun. Some say that this is unnecessary with a new firearm, but I felt better having cleaned it before firing it.

With a little bit of hindsight, I know I shouldn't have felt like a criminal while carrying the gun from the store to my home. I was a law-abiding citizen, exercising my right to carry a gun and to buy ammunition.

It's sad that I felt like a criminal during the entire process. The next time I buy a gun, I won't feel that way.

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