Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Zen of Shooting Sports


Today my husband and I went target shooting at the range. I haven't done that in years. Mostly because recoil plus herniated discs plus arthritis equals pain. I finally got a .22 that I can shoot without really hurting myself, though holding the unaccustomed weight out at arms extension made me pretty sore. Thankfully, there's almost no recoil and I can now practice a sport I really enjoy.

I started out in the shooting sports with archery, won a varsity letter in college and came in third (as a 3 person team) in the New York State Empire Games. I was really good, and I almost got to go to Olympic trials. My dad would not allow me to fly, so I didn't get to go. What I loved about archery was the zen-ness of it. My head is usually way too busy and chaotic, and while I have tried meditation, I have never succeeded in shutting off my internal monologue that way. But with archery, I found myself concentrating really intently on hitting the target, almost thinking the arrow into the bullseye. It was relaxing and fun.

My husband (high school sweet heart) and I started dating again after I finished law school. He was also a college archery geek, and since leaving school, he got into pistol shooting competitively. There is a really fun sport called pin shooting where you try to shoot a bunch of bowling pins off a table in the fastest time. He won a bunch of trophies at it, and he talked me into going to the range with him.

I found that pistol shooting has the same meditative quality as archery, once you get used to the noise and can tune it out. (It's loud even with hearing protection...) But after my accident, the recoil just hurt too much, and I pretty much gave it up. My husband had fairly large caliber guns (which is what you need to move the mass of a bowling pin off a table), and those tend to kick pretty hard. For years I wanted a Smith & Wesson Model 41, which is a .22 caliber competition class pistol. It shoots teeny bullets and has very little recoil, but it is a very expensive indulgence that we never seemed to have the money for. Governor Cuomo's new (unconstitutional and hopefully soon-to-be-overturned) laws here in New York which outlaw purchasing 10 round magazines after April 15th made it likely I would never get to own one, because they are a rare gun and backordered 2 years from the manufacturer, and come with a standard 10 round magazine. But we finally had the funds, and a stroke of insane luck found me a second hand pistol that had only had ten rounds fired through it. My amended pistol permit came through Thursday, and I picked it up from our local FFL dealer after passing the required NICS background check.

Today I finally got to try it out for the first time. That target above is the first time I've shot in 19 years, and while it is not the best I ever shot, I am not unhappy about how I did. Hopefully I will get good enough to shoot competitively. I'm going to give it a shot!

New York State law prohibits kids from shooting or being present on a firing range till they are 12. My son has already been taught gun safety, and it is something that we discuss on an ongoing basis. My guns live in gun safes. I am hoping to get a (disability-friendly) very light pull bow some day so I can teach the boy archery. Once he demonstrates the skill and seriousness that requires, and is old enough, my husband and I will teach him to shoot. I realize my hobby is not politically correct, but marksmanship is a sport, and an enjoyable one that families can share. My guns have never hurt anything but paper, and I intend to keep it that way. Though knowing they are available for self defense and defense of my family also gives me peace of mind, I sincerely hope I never have to use them for that purpose.

Hopefully this gives people a little insight into the average legal gun owner.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others

Combat Vets with PTSD Losing Gun Rights

This is disgusting and discriminatory. Not every person with PTSD, TBI, or any other condition should be presumed dangerous or incompetent on the basis of a diagnosis alone. This is an utter failure of due process, and I can't believe they are proposing stripping our vets of their rights without any judicial finding that particular individuals are in fact dangerous or too compromised to conduct their own affairs. They have also turned the presumption of innocence (or, in this case, competence) on its head, placing the burden on veterans to prove that they are not incompetent and dangerous, rather than on the government to prove that they are. Failure to vigorously contest the VA letter notification will lead to a finding, without a hearing. Have a look here and here, at the letter vets are getting.

It amazes me that people who style themselves as progressive and liberal can support such tactics. If someone introduced legislation penalizing an entire marginalized group on the basis of the actions of one deranged member of the group, or even a handful of members, we would see these very people marching in protest and crying discrimination. So long as the group was one they like and approve of. Racial, religious, gender and orientation based discrimination remain taboo and reprehensible, but penalizing people who have fought and bled for their country and abusing an entire category of law abiding citizens for exercising their fundamental and constitutional rights is A-OK in today's America. I guess we are at the point where veterans, legal gun owners generally, and people with mental health diagnoses have joined fat people in the category of those that it is OK to mock, hate, abuse and discriminate against with impunity.

They say they want to prevent violence by looking at mass shootings from every angle, including mental health care, but they just threw a major monkey wrench into having people seek treatment. How utterly sad and counterproductive. I don't see any effort being made at improving mental health services for vets and/or civilians who need them, just a lot of the usual hot air about mental health parity that neither the VA nor Medicare actually practice (nor private insurance companies), which seems like nothing but a distraction while the people with an agenda carry out their gun grab. What a sad state of affairs our country has fallen into.

Equally reprehensible is the proposal before the New York Legislature to require a million dollars in liability insurance for a person to exercise his or her Second Amendment rights or else have his/her guns confiscated. If poll taxes are unconstitutional, how can this not be? It is clearly the erection of a financial barrier to the exercise of a constitutional right. Why do people who claim to be progressive support the right of only the richest among us to protect themselves, whether by armed guards or infringing on gun rights to the point that only the wealthy can afford to defend themselves? Why am I constantly reminded of George Orwell's prescient book, Animal Farm, in which some animals are more equal than others? But if artificial barriers to the exercise of rights are going to become the order of the day in the New America, may I suggest that we impose intelligence tests for voters and political candidates, which would include demonstrating a working knowledge of our Constitution. I think that's far fairer than a class-based distinction. Perhaps we would not be where we are today if people had to actually have a clue in order to vote, rather than just ticking off the boxes on the party line or voting for the people the media favor.

There is another pro-Second Amendment Rally at the New York State Capitol on February 28th. If you support the Constitution, please attend.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Senator Greg Ball at the Albany Pro-Second Amendment Rally-2-12-2013

An *excellent* article on gun control from a legal perspective: In the National Law Review. I am a retired lawyer and the Constitution means a lot to me. My family attended a rally in Albany last week protesting the NY SAFE act, which we believe violates both the New York and US Constitutions. Whichever side you are on, this is an article worth reading and considering. There is an old saying in legal circles: "Hard cases make bad law." That is what I see happening today. Emotion and outrage are running roughshod over what should be a logical and reasoned process that aims to do the most good while restricting individual rights as little as possible. Instead, we have hysteria and paranoia from both sides. Please give this very well thought out article a read.

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