Despite being a gun owner, I turned out not to be much of a gun enthusiast. I shot targets with it a few times, and watermelons a few more. The hollow point bullets the Ruger was capable of firing exploded the melons into many widely scattered juicy bits. I was told at the time that shooting melons replicated the effect of shooting a human head with the same type of bullet. Shooting melons meant I could at least simulate the awesomeness of shooting a human head in case I was never lucky enough to shoot one in person.
My target-shooting buddy, the imparter of the above information, moved away a few months later. I never took the gun out of the suede bag I kept it in after that, except for a few occasions when I went fishing. Sometimes shooting a large hooked fish is recommended before bringing it on board, so the thrashing of the big fish as it asphyxiates doesn't injure the fisherman. I never shot a hooked fish, but I did put a bullet into a shark that was circling the boat once. It moved away, barely bleeding and certainly not seriously injured.
The lesson I learned is that sharks are made out of tougher stuff than watermelons.
The gun stayed in its bag in a few different closets through several changes of residence. It ended up in a closet in a condo I shared with my then-wife and our months-old son near San Diego.
My future ex was from Arizona. She was unfamiliar with earthquakes and her imagination had been inflamed by viewing crime dramas, so when a small quake shook my household in 1992 while I was away, she interpreted the shaking of the building not as a minor temblor, but as the vibrations caused by a gang of violent minority criminals stomping up the condo steps in unison with an eye to savaging her, our child and our home. She grabbed the gun and after opening the front door and closing her eyes, fired a single shot in the direction of the steps before realizing no one was there.
The lesson she learned is that earthquakes are even more bullet-resistant than sharks.
I decided that eventually my son would be able to walk, and to get into the closet where I kept the gun when my wife was not brandishing it to defend herself from seismic phenomena, and possibly could badly injure himself or somebody with it. My wife and I were also starting to experience the marital difficulties which eventually led us to becoming each other's exes, and she had already proven in my mind to be a tad trigger-happy under duress.
I got rid of the gun. I'm not saying that I would never own one again. I am happy, as a peaceful, if not always utterly law-abiding citizen, to be able to legally purchase a gun. If I wanted to take up hunting, lived in a rural area, or felt my personal safety required it, I would get another one. If I thought the world was heading for some cinematic, blood-drenched apocalypse and I would have to survive in a burnt barren landscape ruled by sadistic mutants wearing extensive makeup I would certainly stock up on guns and ammo. I would turn into Mel Gibson, not the Mel Gibson who drives drunk and accuses the cops who arrest him of being Jewish, but Mad Max, shredding mutant flesh with my newly-acquired arsenal.
Likewise if I walked streets so mean carrying a concealed gat was the only way I could protect the safety of myself, my loved ones or any attractive female strangers I ran across, I would be happy to carry that heater.
Even under those extreme circumstances, I would not feel the need to make bulk purchases of automatic rifles. Some people have been doing that in states where gun regulation is loosest and then running the guns into Mexico on behalf of its drug cartels. Uncle Sam would like to put a stop to that, especially since one of its agents was killed by such a gun. The feds just want to keep tabs on who may be up to that kind of mischief.
The National Rifle Association is opposed, naturally. If a person cannot purchase as many automatic rifles as he or she wishes at any time without being tracked by the feds, the NRA feels that the black helicopters and the socialist foot soldiers of the United Nations Army will immediately be emboldened to strike at the heart of American liberty. Only individual NRA members, heavily armed and hunkered-down in their cellars with their oversize ammunition clips and armor-penetrating bullets keep this nation free.
This is a fantasy, but fantasy plays a large part in gun ownership, notably on the part of gun owners that don't have an immediate use for guns, as opposed to gun owners who hunt or are security guards or in law enforcement. They fantasize that one day they will be able to draw their guns and strike down criminals with them, that their being armed will one day make them unstoppable soldiers of good in the fight against evil.
I used to think the same thing, but eventually I realized that if evil ever showed up, it would have to excuse me so I could go to the closet, zip open that suede bag and grab that Ruger before I could combat it. It wasn't likely to happen that way. You can wait a long time, possibly your whole life, before you get in a situation where you can legally protect yourself by shooting someone, no matter how fervently you may dream of doing it.
Even the fact that the vast majority of people who buy guns for protection aren't ever going to need to protect themselves with them doesn't account for the NRA's fanatical opposition to any form of gun regulation. Those people may support the NRA, but they already have their guns. The guns aren't going to wear out. They don't need to buy more guns. Guns are what are termed durable goods. If I hadn't sold my Ruger, it would still be in one of my closets, as mechanically perfect as it was in 1980. I wouldn't need to get a newer model. I'd just grab it and start pulling the trigger.
If I decided that selling it had been a mistake and I needed a gun tomorrow, I would buy one. That means I'd be buying guns at the rate of one every thirty-one years. That's not enough to support the gun industry, and that's who the NRA really exists to serve. But people who use their guns on other people need to replace their guns frequently, for reasons of legal prudence. If people who made and sold guns couldn't sell them indirectly to criminals, the market for guns would take a big hit.
The NRA knows that people who make bulk purchases of weapons are reselling them to American and Mexican criminals, people who can't legally buy guns themselves. The people who manufacture and distribute guns and ammo know the same thing. Drug wars in Mexico and drug dealers in the US keep their industry prosperous. They provide boom times, in more ways than one.
Maybe, you say. But these are American companies. They're part of our economy. People depend on them to live. But people also depend on not getting shot to live. I wouldn't call that a toss-up. So, as a once and future gun-owner, I'm willing to let the government keep track of people who buy enough weapons in one purchase to outfit an infantry brigade. The NRA may try to convince me that the protection of the Second Amendment would be rendered as flimsy as a taco shop napkin if Uncle Sam has his way, but I'm not buying it.
We peaceful citizens would still be able to shoot as many earthquakes as we liked.