Thoughts by Richard Bleil
After more than six weeks, the day has finally arrived. The gun that I purchased in January is finally in my hands. I’ve written about this before. In this state, you have to register your handgun (which was done in person in about an hour). But before you register your handgun, you have to obtain a permit to buy a gun (which took about three weeks since it had to be done by mail). Before you can get a permit you have to have a driver’s license with your current address which, for me, was a problem since I moved since I got my driver’s license. Here, even the driver’s license is delivered by mail so it, too, took about three weeks. I agree with each of these requirements, but I do wish they could streamline the process.
I’ve owned many guns since I worked with the police department some years ago as their forensic lab director. Being immersed in a gun culture with a group of people who respect guns, I decided it was a good time to learn about guns. They taught me gun safety, and I used their firing range to practice. With the PD I fired a modified assault rifle used for training that used .22 caliber bullets. I’ve owned and fired 9 mm handguns, .40 caliber handguns and I even owned and fired a .50 caliber magnum handgun.
The interesting thing about handguns is that the larger guns are actually easier and more fun to fire than the small ones. My 9mm was a very slim handgun designed for personal safety and conceal carry. It kicked like a mule and was absolutely no fun to fire. The .50 caliber magnum handgun, on the other hand, had a kick but a lot of it was absorbed by the mass of the handgun. In fact, it was kind of cool because it even had vents on top of the barrel designed to help prevent the gun from kicking. It was great fun to fire.
I’m a nut about gun safety and owners taking responsibilities for their weapons of any kind. I gave up my .50 caliber magnum because my living situation made it impossible for me to properly secure it. I was living with friends who had children, and regardless of their personal attitudes, I simply could not bring guns into their homes, so even though it broke my heart, I sold all of them. For several years I’ve had no guns at all…until today. And, no, it’s not a .50 caliber Magnum handgun, although I am in the market for one now. The reality is that a handgun with that much power (the power to shoot through your wall, through the next door neighbor’s door and kill the person hiding on the other side of the refrigerator) has very little practical value. It is the only commercially handgun available with enough power to take down a grizzly bear (according to the ads), so my friend who fishes in Alaska might (but hopefully never will) have a practical use for it. If I tried to use the gun to defend my home, it would cause more money in damages than any money I might lose if they steal my television. Nope, that particular handgun is for bragging rights (I actually owned it as a joke because it’s just simply ridiculous) and target shooting.
No, my new gun is one I’ve never owned before; a .45 caliber semi-automatic. The .45 is the handgun that soldiers used to carry in WWII as a sidearm (I’m not sure if they still do), larger than the .40 that I owned so a little more stopping power, but far larger than the 9mm (the equivalent of about a 0.354 caliber). Many people prefer the 9mm because you can put more rounds in the clip, but my handgun carries up to 13 bullets in the magazine (and potentially one more in the barrel if you have one “chambered”, something I will never do simply because it makes the gun too easy to go off). Thirteen bullets, especially with the stopping power of a 0.45, is far more than enough.
The gun came with three clips, so under the excuse of “testing the gun”, I took it to a firing range. I bought a zombie target (just because they’re fun), and fully loaded all three clips. And I fired. And fired and fired and fired for a total of 39 rounds. Three missed hitting the target, which is pretty good especially considering how long it’s been. But I also forgot the feeling. Just the sense of power, knowing that I’m discharging a weapon more than capable of killing. I started slow, then fired as quickly as I could. I must have been shooting for less than two minutes by the time I was done. That’s 3 rounds a second for those counting; an incredible amount of firepower in a short period of time. I’m very much in favor of limiting large capacity magazines. But it’s also great fun. I could never hunt, but if zombies come at me…I’m good!