Sunday, September 20, 2009

Visiting the Big Boxes

So I did some hiking/cave exploring near Mt. St. Helens this weekend with my boy scout troop. We had 12 boys in the depths of the Ape Caves and had a hoot. It did rain on us Friday night, but I'd brought a comfy tent, big sleeping bag and thick pad. NormallyI'm an ultralight camper and don't splurge much in that department. As my wife says, I usually go out with a hankie, a small sheet of plastic and a blanket. She's not far off.


On the way down, I grabbed by son from school and we left earlier than the rest of the troop. Two reasons:

a) it was a pretty day, I love hanging out with my son and...
b) Cabelas is on the way.

I stopped at Cabelas last week and bought a black powder rifle and a few other things. Cabelas is in Lacy, which is just before Olympai, making it quite a drive from the homestead. About 1.5 hours or so. It takes along time to get there, so this was my first visit.

I tend to frequent the local gun shops here, mostly because I like supporting small businesses and because I don't wanna drive 3 hours for a box of 9mm ammo.

So, anyhow, the revolver I bought last week was defective, so I wanted to exchange it. Ugh. Exchanging regulated items is such a pain. And the best part was that they gave me a brand new one with the same problem. The little doohickey that secures the ramrod on the front of the barrel comes out of the dovetail. Weird. In fact, all the guns they had did likewise.

So after 2 hours of paperwork, shuffling etc, we ended up taking the new one with the same problem and me planning on doing some home gunsmithing. A tap from a punch and maybe some JB weld and it will save me hours staring at a gun counter.


The other reason I went there was to get powder/caps. I figured I'd get that stuff later around home. Nope. Nobody around here carries it. At least within 30 miles.

So I was chagrinned to find that they were outta caps. Ugh.

So we bought some siliconized socks for a few long guns and headed to the campout.

On our way back, we decided to check out SportCo. I think this is the company that took over/replaced/bought out Sportsman's Warehouse. Didn't know they'd had issues, but regardless.

SportCo is quite a bit closer to home. About 30 minutes. Nice.

They had a nice stock of stuff and I found the caps/powder in stock. Easy peasy.

Now I can go to the range this week and shoot this sucker.

PS. Yes, I carry a gun on all scout outings. I figure, I'm one of the adults in charge and since I carry anyhow, I'm going to be prepared for cougars and anything else that comes our way.

P.S.S I looked at a Taurus Judge while buying powder. It was pretty nice. I'd mostly want it for 45 LC and not .410. Seems to me to be a better backcountry gun than the Kel-Tec .380 I carry now. Bigger, and heavier though.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Heading to St. Helens...

Should be fun enough.

But the best part is that I can swing by Cabelas on the way.

Cabelas used to hold no position in my mind. REI was my sporting goods store.

Well, things change. Now I need primers and Pyrodex and some lube. And I need to look at stocks for my Mossy 500.

REI? They got nothin (and everything they do have there is too heavy for my ultra-lightweight pack anyhow).

So hooray for Cabelas - the only place I can find that will carry Pyrodex. Just gotta figure out how one stores it now....

Took the new Mossberg 500 to the range this week and put some slugs down range. I was surprised at the recoil - I was expecting less and it gave me more. I'd say more than my Mosin-Nagant. Just surprised, thats all...

I managed to hit the target at 50 yards. 3 in the same hole, the rest scattered a bit. Shot standing up too. Need practice.

The other reason I'm going to Cabelas is to exchange the black powder revolver I picked up there last week. The little clip that holds the loading lever fell off when I put the latter thru its intended motion. Plop on the floor, very unceremoniously.

Odd that.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bleh. Monday

Having issues with my Mac at home. Stupid snow leopard has got me down.

And, of course, the local range is closed till Wednesday so I can't take either of my two new purchases out for a spin today while I wait for backups to save my skin.

As I mentioned last week, I bought a Mossberg 500 last week to round out my collection. Now I have a nice 20 gauge shotgun with both home and field barrels. Nice, ready to roll. I picked up some buckshot today at the gun store so I now have birdshot, slugs and buck on hand.

I also, in a moment of weakness, bought a black powder Navy revolver from Cabelas this week when I was driving by en route to Portland. $129 bucks for the brass framed Confederate Navy version (i.e. the cheap one) went home with me. Otta be fun for some laughs. Some guy at the range a while back had me shoot some black powder stuff and I knew I'd eventually bite...

I also got a bore-snake and some more hoppes #9 on sale as well. Of course, the sale stuff leaked all over the back of my truck, but its like incense for gunnies anyhow. Mmmm. My truck smells good.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

In California...

So I'm in California for a few days. Flew in yesterday and leave tomorrow AM.

I used to live here in the Bay Area and I don't miss it. Not at all. Ok, maybe the weather I miss on rainy days in Seattle, but that is about it.

There are too many people, everything is expensive as hell, and the south bay (where the mothership resides) has this awful strip-mall aesthetic.

Since becoming a gun owner, these trips to CA have been an exercise in silliness. I bring a gun always (checked luggage, its easy), but since CA has very restrictive gun laws, I have to make sure I pack only my 10 round magazine for the Glock. I can't carry it on me, so it stays in unloaded in a locked box in the trunk. Which does me little good. Today I went on a 5 mile walk down the Steven's Creek Trail and it was the first time I'd been out without a gun on me in more than 6 months. It felt weird. I resent being disarmed thusly - and while I understand I can technically open carry an unloaded gun in CA, that just does not seem like a good idea.

What kinda backward idiots make conceal carry illegal and provide for open carry? Ugh. I sure don't miss CA.

I hate being targeted by these restrictions when I'm a law abiding citizen.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


I lived with and believed those misperceptions for most of my adult life.

Monday, September 7, 2009

I'm Baaaaack!

Oh man, what a slacker.

I mean a month!

To be fair, it was a crazy month. I got sick. My kids got sick. We had several out of town trips (soccer, backpacking trip, family reunion) and I really wasn't at home for much of August.

So here I am, back and the kids are finally in school. Time to breathe. Wahoo.

So here are a few things on my mind:

1. Carrying guns at health care rallies. This happened in August and the media went all apoplectic (yes, I love that word, and it fits). Personally, I see two sides: 1) people should see people exercising their rights with guns but 2) you'll look like a whacko to anyone not plugged into gun rights. Deadly weapons are *not* kosher for the unwashed masses. They see them as scary. Dangerous. More scarier. And so parading around with them makes them think we're barking mad. Of course, maybe they'd stop thinking that if they saw more of them. So yes, I get the point and I respect what some are trying to do here. Where do I fall? Not sure.

2. Healthcare debate. Sheesh. I read alot of conservative blogs nowdays - mostly gunny stuff - but I'm really a bit fed up with the blathering on healthcare. I wanna read your blog to learn about shootie stuff, not your weirdo conspiracy theories on how Obamacare will put mom on an ice flow. I lived with Canadian healthcare most of my first 20 years and it rocked. It was awesome. And it still serves my parents wonderfully. The one thing that puzzles me though, is people who say its the US government that can't do it right, even if others can. Huh, that is an odd thought. Not sure if I see this as realistic or a cop out.

3. Van Whatever his name is. More political crapola. You yanks get all tied up over partisan politics and don't realize that your two party system is broken. Its broken big time. You get corrupt republicans on one hand and corrupt democrats on the other. Money makes them all do the same things for the same backroom dealers, regardless of the rhetoric. We lost power decades ago and its now just a game for the big men. Too bad we don't have a parlimentary system that lets alternate voices have an actual say instead of waste time/effort/money and votes. And yes, I'm very familiar with the downsides of such a system, but they are easier to handle than the wreck of a democracy we have now. Sigh.

4. Obama talking to your kids. Sheesh. Seriously? This is tying you up in knots? The outrage I've been seeing over this from people I otherwise respect is just insane. Do you really think Obama is going to sit down and indoctrinate lil' Billy, reading directly from Mao's little Red Book? Seriously? Hell. Back here in RealityLand, he's just going to tell them to work hard and get good grades. And they released the text before hand so you could stop hyperventilating. The way people were freaking was almost like we were headed for a Killing Fields style camp for reeducation instead of an inspiring (ok people, ignore the politics, look at what he's done/overcome - he's our first black president with a dad who hearded goats!) story to help an increasingly lazy and incapable youth. And yes, I *know* the many of them are weak, lazy and ill prepared to handle freedom - I'm a scout leader and I see first hand the results of parents who don't expect anything from their kids, give them everything and let them fiddle with their stupid X-box paddles as their only chore. No expectations. No work ethic. Just soft and lazy pudding people. I wish this wasn't true, but it is.

Ok, so lets turn the tables. I was a major George Bush hater. I really dislike the guy, but I wouldn't have minded him talk about banalities and maybe tell an inspiring story or two to my four kids in school. Shrug. Like he'd make them read Kristol or something. Ok, maybe the "what you can do for your president stuff was a bit silly" though...

5. Politics. Feck! Forget it. I bought another gun today. I finally rounded out my arsenal with a Mossberg 500 20 gauge shotgun. Got the 20 because its a bit easier for kids/the wife to handle. And because Mas said it was a good choice on ProArms awhile back. I got the two barell kit (field, home defense) for $279 at Big 5. I'd gone to the local armory and they only had 12's in stock. So I had to go to the big box store. Ugh. But that isn't a bad deal. Sweet. So now I have a sweet home defense shotgun that I gotta get to know.

6. Took my Mosin Nagant to the range a few times in the last few weeks. Here is the short rundown of my travails: 1) Shot 20 rounds, didn't even hit the target at 100 yards. Scared me. I have a 22 LR that I shoot like a champ, so I was concerned. Went home frustrated. 2) Went back. Finally hit the target at 50 yards. Was all over the place. managed to put a few holes in at 100 yards too, but it looks like crap. I was concerned I had a bad bore (no idea how to tell really, I'm a newbie remember) or the crown was crapped up. I decided to put it back in the original wood stock (had it in an ATI synthetic stock - a moment of weakness in Cabelas in July). Maybe that would help. 3) Went back and after a few poor shots noticed I was flinching when I shot. I then analyzed what I was doing and I was flinching like a madman. I mean, really bad. The rifle has alot more recoil than I've been used to with my 22s or handguns, so I was jumping at it. I forced myself to calm down and voila (yes I speak French) things stared to settle down. The rifle shoots a bit high, but I pulled a 2" group at 50 and an 7" group at 100 yards. Not perfect, but much better. Turns out all my worry about a bad gun/bore/crown blah blah was due to me acting all goofy when I pulled the trigger. Controlling myself changed everything.

I have much to learn...

7. Monster Hunter International - this book oozed fun. I really enjoyed it. I had a really hard time with the first chapter though. Let me get this out - I'm a total literature snob. I read. A lot. And I like appreciate literature. Thus, I hate reading poorly written stuff. Why waste time when there are so many great books out there. And yes, I'd flog Dan Brown if I ever met him. I like Steinbeck. I love Nabokov. Willa Cather. Mark Twain. Joyce. But sometimes they don't write stories about vampires, so I read other stuff (aka slumming it). I loved World War Z (after I made fun of someone for reading it), so when I read about MHI somewhere (Gun Nuts?) I bought it for my iPhone and ended up really liking it. The first chapter really didn't impress me and I almost put it down. But in the end I persevered and the writing got better and the story line sucked me in. My only other complaint was that the shootie stuff was too much. I respect that he knows what he's talking about. I respect that he does not talk about 1911 revolvers and "everything is an Ak", but the shooting parts were overdone. I mean, worse than Mac Boland bad. And the shooting hardly does anything good anyhow. So maybe I'd mellow on the tacticool descriptions a bit.

PS. I also like it because the author is Mormon and I saw some mormon theology in there. I saw it immediately and loved it. I knew what I was reading and confirmed with some google work. You go Larry. I forgive you for that shaky first chapter and the gunny-McGunny focus somtimes.

Go get it.

8. Obama Joker. Its just that - a joke. I see no racist overtones here. Its also very clever. I like clever. Those people on the left who freaked out over this are just goofy. And no, I don't think Obama is a socialist. Or a communist. Not even close. That banter is just to rile up and distract one side. The other side gets riled up and distracted by something else. Maybe chickens in a cage or some sort of non-CFL lightbulb armageddon.

9. Little Black Book of Violence - a great read (part way thru) on avoiding violence and why. Very good when you walk around with a deadly weapon every day and want to avoid trouble. I love his advice on how to let things roll over and thru you. I'm getting older and certainly feel a bit wiser than that dumb 21 year old kid I once was. Pick your battles - and most are not worth fighting...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hot. Hot. HOT!

Freaking freakity freak. Its hot here in WA. It hit 106 at yesterday.


Well, I used that as an excuse to go buy a nice 22 rifle. I kid. Honestly, I went into the gun shop just to see what they had...

They had a scoped Marlin Model 60 SN (synthetic stock) with an acceptable scope on it for a decent price, so after humming and hawing about for a while, I went for it. It looky like this. Except I have a better scope on it.

I have a Henry Survival Rifle in .22 LR that works great, but its not a great gun for plinking, so I was on the look out for a good, reliable and inexpensive 22. It will serve to teach my son to shoot, go plinking and maybe piss off a zombie or two when they invade.

I took it to the range and its a tack driver. This is the first time I can be accused of tearing a ragged hole in a target. The shots went a bit high and to the left, so after some dial time with the Bushnell scope, I was in business.

This is a 14 round tube fed magazine. And I think I like that more than a 10/22 with a detachable magazine - I'm growing to hate the magazine thumb I get from all the autoloaders I have.

I shot 100 rounds and had no issues feeding. So accuracy and reliability. Sweet.

PS. If you're counting, that is #6

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Two Things - Conceal Carry & Heathcare

Personally, I like the idea of concealed carry permits.

Let me state up front that I really get the whole "its a right, I shouldn't need a permit" idea. I know where you are coming from and I'm not saying your notion isn't without merit. But part of me still thinks that its OK to ask citizens to demonstrate our sanity before putting a gun in our pocket.

Honestly, I don't want felons to have guns. I don't want some dude whose been in and out of the institution and wears a tinfoil hat to carry a gun. I don't want that guy with a restraining order or who beats his wife to have a gun. That just isn't rational or safe.

I want it safe for law abiding citizens to carry guns.

So I didn't have much of a problem going down and submitting to a background check and some fingerprints. Personally, I wish they'd required a few hours of class time too. Honestly, not everyone is as thorough as I am (ahem) and spends beaucoup time looking into concealed carry before doing it. I spent hours reading, watching videos and discussing options and responsibilities before I took the plunge, and I probably still don't know everything I should. But I tried really hard and continue to. I think that anyone who wishes to carry a deadly weapon better be clear on many things first, and mandatory training is probably the best way to do it.

With regard to the national reciprocity bill that got nuked this week: I was all for it because traveling is such a pain now (as I've discussed over the last week). But at the same time, I can see the argument from those opposed that the state with the least restrictions will force others to have to accept this, even if the people of said state want a bit more from their own carriers.

I guess the states with no permit (Alaska and Vermont, any others?) rely on the other gun laws to keep the nutbars out? Maybe that works. Thoughts?

Secondly, healthcare. I love the gun blog-o-sphere. But I'm really getting sick of the healthcare crap getting thrown in all the time. Ugh.

Honestly, I'm a big fan of a more rational approach to healthcare. Our current system sucks. And before you get all uppity, consider that I know what I'm talking about. I've lived with Canadian healthcare for half my life and it is a really great system.

No really. Its always been there for me and my family and all the doomsday crap I hear about it is just silly fear mongering and ignorance.

Oh, and a good conservative friend of mine once outlined his fears by stating it wasn't *any* government healthcare program that he feared, just a US-based one. His opinion was that the US government is just too inept and corrupt to do it right, even if others can and have done a better job of it.

That kinda floored me. Of course, he was more than happy with the MIC and them having keys to the nukes, but healthcare was right out.

Really? Is this a common thought?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Got a response from Senator Murray already:

Dear Mr. Morganthen,

Thank you for writing to me regarding S. Amdt. 1618, Senator Thune (R-SD)'samendment to provide for uniform reciprocity for concealed weapon possession across the country. It is good to hear from you.

Senator Thune's amendment would allow gun owner with a right to carry concealed weapon in one state the right to carry a concealed weapon across the United States. Like you, I am concerned about the level of violence in this country, and its effect on our families and communities. Legislation to regulate the use of firearms is and should remain primarily a state issue. I believe that our national crime-fightingstrategy should include reasonable measures to control firearms that strike a balance between reducing street crime and maintaining individuals' rights.

As a U.S. Senator, I have supported common-sense measures to reduce or restrict gun violence while posing the least possible inconvenience to law-abiding gun owners. Please know that as the Senate considers this and other firearms legislation, I will keep your concerns regarding this important issue in mind. If you would like to know more about my work in the Senate, please feel free to sign up for my updates at Thank you again for writing, and please keep in touch.

ha ha. It almost seems like they missed my point...

Vote on Natioanl Conceal Carry

I just got done emailing my senators from Washington to suport the Thune/Vitter amendment to the DOD authorization bill. I used some text copied from a template I found somehwere on the internet and added some of my own recent history traveling thru 5 states and doing the gun juggle.

So I'd urge you to contact your sentaor with your support as well...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Armed Again

I'm back in Utah. It was sure nice to pop that Kel-Tec back into my pocket after a week without. Peace of mind.

I have my two older boys with me and we did some shooting in the desert a few days ago. I also shot my Mosin Nagant for the first time and was pleasantly surprised at how it handled. The action isn't smooth by any stretch, and that is slightly annoying - you gotta pay attention to the action to make sure it opens, loads the round and closes properly. I'm sure it will get more normal as I do it. The rifle is certainly heavy and I'm sad to report the new resin stock didn't change the weight much at all. I was hoping to take off a bit of the weight. The kick of the gun was totally manageable and I've decided to scope it - I already have the parts, just gotta find a gunsmith to put it on.

We also shot some .22 and had quite a bit of fun plinking with cans and the like. My older boy was quite accurate with his shooting overall. Proud papa.

I'm slowly trying to introduce my kids to the guns, their safe use and right now I'm really drilling in the 4 rules. I made them repeat them like 20x - between each mag change and the like. I sure wish I would have had this when I was a kid.

My 12 year old son shot the Glock with 22 LR kit from Advantage Arms and I even let him shoot a magazine of 9mm just so he could see how it handled. He did a great job of keeping that gun under control and was hitting what he wanted to at 25 ft or so. Not bad.

Now back to work...

Friday, July 17, 2009


I loved this:

Joe Huffman points out the irrational feeling many in our society have for guns.

A man in the parking lot adjusting his concealed carry piece is a "gruff, dangerous man" who is ready to kill everyone.

A woman talking on a cell phone from, gasp, out of state has a pistol in her purse with children present!


The poster on "The Gun Guys" (who, btw, didn't fool me for a minute when I started reading the gun blogosphere) is either truly terrified of these scenarios or trying to add a bit of melodrama around the scenes to scare the rest of us. The latter is a time-honored technique, honed and polished to a shining turd in the national discourse. Bush and his cronies were very effective and have made their little friends billions of dollars using this tactic. And if you think the left is going to sit by and not learn from their, ahem, little advancements, you're fooling yourself.

As for me, I recognize the fear here. I used to feel it when I saw a gun in public, as I detailed a few posts ago. Guns are equated in the modern media with rapid-fire death. Guns are shown as the "way to solve problems" in 99% of the situations we see portrayed on TV and in the movies. I like a good shoot-em up as much as the next guy, but honestly, the depictions are far from reality. Bam bam! Problem solved and I get the girl. Uh huh.

So consider this:

There are millions of people carrying responsibly each day around you. On your next trip to Starbucks or Nordstrom, consider that someone in your immediate periphery has a legal handgun tucked away for self defense. How many times have you seen a shoot out? Pools of blood at the park or in the restaurant because someone had a gun around children!

Not often. It does happen, and criminals will continue on occasion to perpetrate their evil.

But for the law abiding citizen like myself, that gun is there only to defend myself and my family. And unlike TV, it will only happen as an ultimate last resort. I'll get myself out of most every predicament, even dangerous ones, without having to draw it.

And personally, I've decided that I will only do so to save myself or my family. If I were in a supermarket and a shoot out happened in front, I'd take myself out the back. No heroics. I just don't want to pay the price for mistakes if I shoot the wrong person or a ricochet hits a bystander. If they come at me in said supermarket, different story, but that is my current thinking. I hear that there is a $10K price tag attached to each bullet I shoot. Ouch. I'll only spend that when absolutely necessary.

So unlike that terrible crime drama you shouldn't watch on TV (read a book, please) I won't go looking to solve every problem with a gun. Blood will not run in the streets. Kids are perfectly safe around me (mine are) and that won't change because some misguided person tries to scare everyone else into thinking otherwise.

How about you?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Still Disarmed

I'm still in the four corners region and I'm still disarmed.

After just getting used to carrying all the time, and liking the extra reassurance that it gives, I really hate not having my Kel-Tec on me.

Stupid, stupid.

On the positive side, we were out in the desert a few days back and I got to try two new types of JHP self defense ammo in the Kel-Tec. Self Defense .380 has been impossible to find for the past 6 months, so I was happy to visit a few stores with some MagTech and Corbon JHP stuff in stock.

I bought a few (expensive) boxes and took it out for some shooting. I learned early to make sure to test your ammo before it becomes your carry load, for obvious reasons that if it causes a misfeed, then you're SOL and might as well not have the gun in the first place. Makes sense.

So I put 20 rounds of both thru the gun with zero problems. And it was amazingly accurate - shooting both close up targets (7-10 meters - yes the metric system is better) and stuff farther away at 25 m. I setup a man-size target at that latter distance and was able to put 6 rounds into it quickly - center of mass with an acceptable grouping size. This *is* a pistol for close in distance, so I was happily surprised at the results.

The ammo was:
  • CorBon DPX- 80 grain JHP - solid copper bullet intended to minimize penetration and maximize expansion. This stuff was expensive at $30 a box for 20 rounds. Ouch. They claim it retains 100% of bullet weight and has a higher fps. Mostly greek to me, but ok.
  • MagTech Guardian Gold - 85 grain JHP +p load (technically) - traditional HP design, and much cheaper at $13 a box.
I'm just happy to have self defense stuff again. I've been carrying around the same 6 rounds of Remmington Golden Sabre for 8 months.

Anyone have any thoughts on their preferred .380 loads for small guns like this? How many rounds do you put thru in testing? At $30 a box, I was hesitant to do more with the CorBon stuff, but maybe I'm being cheap.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Open Carry

Ok, so someone suggested that Nationwide open carry was the way to address my conceal carry query from the other day.

Honestly, its a good thought, but in the end, I think Open Carry in normal, everyday routine, is a complete non-starter.

Concealed carry is by far the best thing to happen to gun owners in the past 20 years. We get to arm ourselves legally and the malefactors don't know which of their intended victims is really to strike back. With open carry, they know immediately, and its like an invitation to being the fist one shot. With concealed carry, random as it is, the criminal mindset is reinforced negatively - it can work like slot machines, where random reinforcement is enough to drive people to peeing in change buckets rather than go to the bathroom.

Think of that flawed 20-20 episode intending to bunk concealed carry. You know, where the guy with the gun in a classroom was set in the same spot so the armed intruder could come right in and pop him - no guessing, no wondering, just pop pop (simunitions) and they were dead. Oh look! Conceal Carry does not work.


And open carry is likewise. I'm all for open carry in the wilderness - that rattlesnake or cougar won't do a double take and slink away if they spot that XD on your hip.

But in the real world, that gobshite criminal will just pop you first...

PS. I noticed on the gun blogs that there is some sort of national conceal carry law making the rounds. Would love to see this pass if it does just that and nothing more...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Selling with a CCW?

Just noticed this:

And I think it kinda reinforces my thought that if I ever sell a gun person to person, it will only be to a CCW holder.

Speaking of Concealed Carry

So I've been on a road trip for the past week. We left about a week ago and headed down to Utah to visit some relatives.

I always carry my P3AT in my back pocket (pocket holster, of course) and do so especially when traveling. I always was very suspicious of people at rest stops etc. when traveling - probably because I'm out of my element.

What I do like about my WA permit is that I can carry in many other western states I visit. My WA permit is good ID, UT and MT, which is where I spend 90% of my time.

But what really pisses me off is reciprocity is fickle and hard to track. For example, on my trip to Utah, I had to disarm thru Oregon. About 4 hours later, I could arm again. Oh, and I can't pump my own gas either, but that isn't a huge deal.

Utah was great, and I carried the entire time there. Now we took a side trip down to the Four Corners area and I can't carry my pistol again in Colorado. Not sure about AZ. Or NM. What a freaking pain in the rear.

Now I know that many libertarians and conservatives chafe at any sort of federal control beyond the military (which is a big exception in my mind, but they never seem to care), but this state-by-state approach is just silly.

Sometimes federal oversight is better than having to arm/disarm a bunch of times in a single day depending on what state you're passing thru.

And each state has different laws on where I can/can't carry. Restaurants that serve alcohol? I don't partake (ahem) but in some places I can/can't carry there. Not that I'd ever want to eat at, say Applebees, but I never know without spending 10 min on my iphone if I can or can't. And no, I'd never willingly eat at Applebees or most other chain restaurants in that vein.


Personally, I'd like to see federal oversight over the mess so I can just learn once and forget about it. And I could get my permit once and be done.

Maybe there is something I'm not thinking of? I'm sure my loyal readers will let me know all about it ;-)

So, anyhow, greetings from southern Colorado. Its beautiful down here and I'm just happy to be alive and to share this with my kids.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Concealed Carry is for Crazies...

Well, that is what I used to think.

The idea that someone would *need* to carry a gun around was something straight out of an old western movie.

Consider that Canada had a pretty smooth history of westward migration compared to the US. The government had the foresight to send out the RCMP *before* the settlers really came en mass - and a result, they managed to keep the western part of Canada much more tame and civil. The rule of law before the rule of the gun - the latter seems to have been much more prevalent south of the border. In fact, the most trouble we had was from whiskey runners coming up from Alberta. Trust me, I grew up near a place called "Whiskey Gap" and "Fort Whoop-up" which were both places where whiskey traders plied their trade.

However, consider that my history also dates back to the forced migration of Mormons from the east/midwest to Utah. As a result of our unique heritage, we Mormons tend to have a self-reliant streak a mile wide. Or at least a history of it - many of us are getting as fat and lazy as the other sheeple thinking that Albertsons and King George will provide.

We've had times where government was out to kill us (extermination orders, Invasion armies heading to Utah) and others when we worked quite well with them (Mormon Battalion, Railroads etc). I'm actually quite proud that this duality - we've worked well together and we've walked away from tyrants and mob rule.

In short, we've shot back and we've walked away when it was the right thing to do. Consider also that our scriptures (The Book of Mormon) have tales of both as well - we've got great soldier leaders who fought against oppression and other great examples who vowed never to shed blood and buried their weapons in the ground. Very cool.

Anyhow, back to the idea of concealed carry. I live in Washington State and I looked into the whole process almost from an academic exercise. I wanted to see what it took to be legal to carry a gun.

As an aside: part of me has grown to see the silliness of asking the government to "authorize me" to carry a gun for self defense. I mean, the 2nd amendment is pretty clear on the whole "Bear" part. I know I'm not alone, and there are a few states who do this.

But part of me realizes that there are *alot* of rubes out there. Morons. Idiots. Goofballs. Tools. People who don't put thought into their actions. Do I want them carrying a gun around endangering me if I'm in the next bathroom stall? Remember that dude who blew up a toilet in Utah at a Fast Food restaurant a few months ago? His conceal piece fell out of his belt and discharged, shattering the toilet bowl. He was lucky no one was injured.

Carrying a gun is a HUGE responsibility as you have the ability to protect yourself or harm others thru negligence. I know that lefties tend to get all in knots over both of these - the police can protect you and the odds of you using it to defend yourself are slim, while the odds you'll make a stupid mistake and hurt someone else are probably up there. I do note that few really know the actual statistics when they opine about this - I sure don't.

That dude in the Utah bathroom was careless and could have killed someone. You can't dismiss it easily.

So anyhow, I went to the local Sheriff's department and setup my appointment. I had to wait a few days and I was back - all I needed to do was fill out a form, get fingerprinted and wait while they ran a BG check on me.

Honestly, I was expecting more. I mean, to drive a car (which can also be dangerous or helpful - and both are definitely more significant statistically speaking) one has to jump thru all kinds of hoops - practical test, written test, eye test. Hell, I can't serve hotdogs (not that I would, I'm a vegetarian) to kids at a baseball game without a food permit.

So in about 30 days my permit showed up. To be honest, all I really wanted it for was so I didn't have to wait when I purchased a handgun.

In fact, soon after I decided to get a carry gun in case I wanted to do so - and I decided on a Kel-Tec P3AT. Buying this tie was much nicer and I walked out with my new tool 30 min after going in.

Honestly, I do like the idea of a CCW permit because it proves I've gone thru a BG check and was clean - at least when it was done X years ago. A rational lefty would argue that this might be the best way to make sure person-to-person sales (i.e. the gunshow loophole) are legit. Personally, I'd never sell a firearm to anyone without a CCW - and I know from what I see in classifieds that I'm not alone.

So, have I carried?

I certainly didn't start out doing it. Before the Kel-Tec, the Bersa was just too big, and being new, I was too self conscious of it. I didn't even consider the Glock. The Bersa is slim and small, but the Kel-Tec dissapears in your pocket.

At first I tried IWB in the small of the back. It was annoying as hell. Couldn't sit down, I felt it was printing all the time. Just hated it. So I only did it on occasion. And often it went into bags I was carrying rather than on me specifically.

A few months ago, I decided to really try to carry ever day. I have expensive cameras and like to wander around a lot, and it gives me a bit of added security - there has been several times where I've been in dicey situations with 10k worth of camera equipment around my neck. Gunnies, photographers have it worse than you, trust me.

Even the Kel-Tec wasn't working IWB, so I got a pocket holster and fell in love with it. I ended up going out and buying some BDU style shorts (needed some new ones anyhow) and found them perfect for carry. I'd plop the gun in its holster into my back pocket and I was good. I could drive, work, play and it just felt right. The size of the P3AT and that holster are perfect in my book.

I now carry every day. Even at home while working or messing around in the garden. Washington is pretty good about letting you carry most places - I just have to avoid post offices, schools and municipal buildings. And yes, I think its pretty silly to have gun free zones. It seems to me that criminals, by nature, will ignore that rule, but I have to? Stupid. And I hate having to disarm to go into the post office, which I have to do daily because I live in a rural area without home delivery.

I guess if something goes bad, we can all run to the post office and let the magical forcefield protect me and my family from danger.

Yeah, that is the plan...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

FWIW, I just ran into a store that had those value packs of .22LR ammo!

I have seriously not seen those on the shelves since, oh, say October of last year. And they had some .380 JHP in stock too! I've been low on SD roundage as well. Score.

Bought 4 boxes and added 2000+ rounds to my stash.

Ahem, I mean, arsenal.

One Becomes 4. And some Ammo...

So I was pretty happy with my Bersa. It worked great, shot well and was pretty much what I wanted.

I had mentioned recently that I had purchased a Henry US Survival rifle online just after buying the Bersa. It came not long after I got the Bersa and I ran down to Wade's Guns in Bellevue to pick it up. I was chagrined to see that they dinged me something fierce for buying it as I did - they charged me something like $30 for the FFL paperwork (which is fine by me and expected) but then added on a percentage fee for the $$ they feel they lost by me not buying it there. Say what?

Funny that because I tried to buy one from them. The moron kid at the counter tried to sell me a .270 rifle when it was very obvious I wanted this specific rifle. I kept coming back to it, then finally left in disgust when he didn't get it. He didn't offer to order it, just kept going on about stuff I wasn't interested in.

Lesson learned. Either I gotta find a different FFL or just buy local, which really isn't a problem for me anyhow. But not from Wade's Guns in Bellevue, you can be sure of that.

Anyhow, I got the Survival Rifle home and checked it out. It works great for what it is - a survival rifle. If you need to take small game in a survival situation, it will work great. Its light, its compact (it folds up into its stock) and its simple to operate.

The key thing about this rifle is its light. One can carry a lot of .22LR ammo and this rifle in your backpack. Much more than larger calibers. If I'm getting out of dodge, this will be a great rifle to have along for the ride.

I'd heard about concerns with reliability and build quality, and it isn't the most refined rifle on the block, but it works (and I hear Henry's takeover improved things over Armalite versions).

Happy enough.

So now that I had the hardware, it was time to get the ammunition. I ran into a few sales on bricks of .22LR ammo, so I quickly added several thousand rounds to my personal storage (aka, an 'arsenal' to those who don't own guns). I also bought a few cases of .380 ammo - I figured that a few cases would be good for starters.

This was all last August, and I'm sure glad I put this stuff away as both calibers are largely absent from the shelves today (and have been for the past 6 months at least).

Ok, so I had a small handgun and a small survival rifle.

Someone once and mentioned that guns were a bit like crack. And they are. No sooner had I gotten done with these purchases that I decided that for my purposes, I really needed to fill my arsenal out a bit. I don't regret what I had, but once I began this journey, I realized that I would need heavier duty weapons that would actually serve as self-defense weapons should I need them. This always happens to n00bs. No matter how much you research, you end up spending $$ to learn the hard way. Cameras, bikes, and now guns. Shrug.

So I went back to West Coast Armory and bought a Glock 17. It was high on this list because 9mm is an eminently available round, it has high capacity magazines and what I'm told is legendary reliability.

I was a bit off-put by the lack of a manual safety, and it took me awhile to really get over it. Every gun I'd owned had one. It just didn't seem safe. I thought alot about it, and decided that the Glock was ok in this regard. This was to be a defensive pistol, not a carry piece (way to big for that IMHO) and so it sits in the safe or is on my hip in a holster as the world comes down around me, ready to go.

So I bought it. And waited again for the week to pick it up.

I then bought a few cases of 9mm ammo to add to my growing pile stored in plastic food-grade buckets in the storage room.

Next was a rifle that could really reach out and touch someone. I had spent a fair bit by this point, and so I decided to go surplus for my rifle. I noted that a local sporting goods store had Mosin Nagants on sale for less than $100 and that seemed to be great. Its shoots a heavier cartridge, its reliable (so I'm told) and wouldn't cost me an arm/leg. So I picked that up too. Process was easier for rifles - no waiting period.

Then I added a couple of cases of sardine-tinned 7.62x54R ammo from some ex-communist country. Corrosive joy, I hear. I have not shot it yet because I keep hearing about how I gotta get the headspace checked. Ugh.

My safe was filling up already and I was only 2 months into this new journey.

What I'm glad about is that I did all this last fall before the ammo shortage. If I had waited 5 months, I would have been outta luck. Its still pretty much impossible to find .380 or .22 ammo. The russkie stuff is available, as is 9mm, but its more expensive.

Whew. I love it when a plan comes together.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A few words on safe storage...

So, after that first trip, I continued to go to the range about once a week. Putting ammo thru the gun wasn't much of a chore, and I quickly picked up on the proper behavior for a range citizen.

I'm not much of a social person anymore (by choice), but I do talk with other gunnies. I'm always looking to learn, and those around me are great places to look for knowledge.

One discussion really stands out in my head; I was talking to this guy about the proper ceasefire procedures at the range, and in the course of his response, he referred to my Bersa as a "weapon". It really caught me off guard. I mean, I know its a weapon. Everyone knows this. Duh. Its a gun, a tool made for one specific purpose. But it was then that the realization that I now owned a deadly weapon kinda hit me. A weapon. Oh yeah.

As it is a weapon, I decided nice and early to have a set of SOP's for dealing with it. I present them to you for your edification and potential additions:

1. Never ever leave the gun out thinking you'll store it securely later. The gun goes into the safe when you don't have it explicitly on you. Back then I didn't have my conceal carry permit, so it was mainly in the safe.
2. Learn and live the 4 rules. Really. Seriously.
3. Practice enough to be competent. Know it like the back of your hand, and you'll make less mistakes.

I've followed these to a T since day one. Owning a gun is a huge responsibility and I intend to take its seriously.

Rant time.

It really pisses me off every time someone forwards me an accidental death news story because its just an example of some idiot not defining and living by the proper operating procedures for having a deadly weapon.

Frankly, as I mentioned earlier, my Grandpa (NRA life member, staunch gun supporter) was not being responsible with his guns when I was a kid staying with them. He didn't do much to teach me to handle them safely, he didn't store them safely and this is a problem. 7 year olds should not have unrestricted access to a gun cabinet. Regardless.

My Dad did no better either.

Every time some kid gets into his dads nightstand and shoots a friend, a bit more weight of the world shifts onto the shoulders of responsible gun owners. Every time some moron gets lazy or flippant with his/her weapon, the rest of us lose a little bit. The anti-gun crowd, to which I was once a full fledged member, sees these stories and it just reinforces their mindset - guns are owned by redneck morons who can't rub two brain cells together.

They learn to vilify the irresponsible and the tool too. They animate the tool because the owner wasn't. There is lots of blame to go round when an accident happens, and in then end that is how "sensible gun laws" come about. The reasoning is simple: if you can't manage to put your gun away from the 5 year olds, we'll do it for you.

So please, if you have not defined a rigid set of SOPs (standard operating procedures) for your weapons, do it now. Learn it, follow it and be rigid as hell about it. Take care of your guns. Respect them. Store them safely. If it isn't on your immediate person, it should probably be put away. That, my friends, is common sense.

I'm proud to say that I've never made the mistake (so far) of leaving my gun out of its safe by accident. I adhere to those rules every time. No variations. No exceptions. I realize accidents do happen, so being cognizant of everything you do with a weapon is a must.

Double and triple check. If you don't, you do the rest of us a huge disservice.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July

I'm going to take a break today and spend time with the family.

I love the first week of July.

I get to spend July 1st celebrating Canada and its awesomeness.

I get to spend July 4th celebrating the United States and its awesomeness.

I'm truly blessed to be a citizen of both. I just smile when someone talks about how one their country "is the best" in the world, because I know better. I've lived in three and visited scores more for extended times, and I find something special in each. Truth is, there are many wonderful places to live, and God has given us much to be thankful for.

So lets hear it for good healthcare, education and the RCMP. Lets hear it for gun rights, the desert southwest and the Marines. Lets hear it for the prairies, our melting pot heritage and the Rockies. Lets hear it for being able to say what you want, go where you will and standing up for what's right.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Pickup Time!

Wow, quite a rush of people. Thanks for listening to my story.

So, as I was on my weeklong trip, I remembered something I really wanted when I was a kid - one of those cool survival guns. I knew that .22 LR guns were the perfect survival weapon - cheap, ammo was abundant and inexpensive and I could carry a lot in my backpack if I needed too.

I remember lusting after the Armalite gun - the one where you stowed everything in the stock. So I looked it up and found that Henry now made them and that reliability was much improved. So I looked at a few online shops and bought one that night - sending it to a local gun shop (not Westside) to pickup. I knew I'd have to pay a bit extra for that, but I'd checked their inventory and they didn't have one. In fact, when I'd asked, they tried to talk me into a 270 or something silly. So I figured this was the way to go.

So here I was, a few days from my first purchase and buying another. Foodgates: open.

When I got back, I rand down and picked up the Bersa. It felt cold in my hand, but it was mine. And I was now capable of at least some level of self defense, although I was extremely leery. Probably not a bad thing for a deadly weapon.

I now had a nice list of stuff to do:

One: storage. One of my biggest fears was that my kids would hurt themselves with it. The news is awash with those stories you know. Obviously I wanted to have access to it quickly, but wanted it safe from the kids. So I bought a small wall safe and bolted it to my wall with big lag nuts. Done and Done.

Two: buy some of ammo to break it in. Done.

Three: read the manual and clean it. Done

Four: shoot.

First, I knew training would be a good idea. But I looked at classes locally and they were more than I paid for the gun. I'm a quick learner, and I devour information when I get fixated on something, so I figured I start by myself and see where that went.

I'd already started reading gun blogs, read a few books/magazines and asked lots of questions at the gun store/range and of gunnies I knew. Its always worked for me in the past.

So off to the range I went. We have a local range that is pretty inexpensive, so I joined and lined up for my first session with my new gun. The people at the range were nice enough, but I was certainly more than a bit nervous as I loaded the first magazine, inserted it and racked that slide back. Pushing in bullets hurts the thumb, I thought.

Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. I can tell you I didn't know what to expect that first trigger pull. I knew .380 wasn't the most powerful round. I knew it was barely adequate for self defense.

It wasn't a big deal. The guy next to me was shooting a 9mm and let me try his (and XD if I remember correctly) and it didn't feel much different. Then he had me shoot is Mac .45 and some crazy belgian rifle. He kept pulling them out of those mysterious aluminum briefcases that nobody but gun owners really buy. The one thing I was concerned with was getting shot by accident at the range - note that sometime around then that kid with a full auto uzi killed himself at some machine gun event.

It was nice to pull the trigger on a few other guns without renting. I realized that the recoil issue wasn't a big deal and I could easily control whatever I wanted.

I shot 2 boxes and went home. I wasn't a bad shot. Everything was on the paper, and the groups were good enough for me at different ranges.

When I got home I cleaned it out really good and put it into the safe.

I pondered that first shoot for a few days. I noted that the gun really was just an inanimate object. It was completely safe if I respected it. If I followed the rules properly.

As I proceeded to shoot more (to break it in like I'd read) and cleaned it, I got to know it. And most of my fear evaporated.

At one time I'd been incensed that someone had a gun on their hip near my kids. Now I had a gun and was handling it responsibly...

PS. I realize I'm a moderate. Only those *waaay* to the right think of me as a lefty, but being that far in right field can alter your perspective.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Welcome even more readers. Gun bloggers are cool. And they've taught me much.

So anyway, back to my story...

When I last left you, I was headed to the store to buy my first gun.

I had never looked into it before, but a quick check on my iphone revealed a nice shop close by - West Coast Armory.

I headed down and was greeted by a small store chock full of weapons. Lots of pistols. Lots of what at the time I would have referred to as "assault weapons" on the wall.

The staff was a bit off-putting at first - I think more because I was in over my head than anything - but I managed to talk to him. I confessed I was bit out of my league and he pushed me towards a 9mm taurus something or other. It wasn't very big, but it was a double stack and felt thick and a bit unwieldy. I asked to see the Bersa Thunder .380 and it felt just right (with appologies to the thee bears). It fit my hand (I'm not a particularly big guy) quite well and seemed just to be the right thing for me. And the price was right.

So I plopped my card down and signed the papers. I was told it would take a week to get approval. Not a big deal for me really, I wasn't dying to have it. I figured that if it kept crazies from guns, that was OK. And I still mostly feel that way (although I get around it now by having a concealed permit).

I'll admit to having quite a big pit in my stomach. I can certainly see why noobs feel on the outside of something (be it guns or computers or anything) but this was a deadly weapon and I was quite apprehensive. I was doing it. I'd mulled it over for years, and something was telling me to take care of it. Inspiration if you believe in that.

I was out of town for the next week, so off I went...

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Readers!

Welcome new readers. I put the word out on a few gunny blogs that I read and they're all ready rolling in.

Thanks for that.

Anywho, back to my rambling story. (See Parts I and II below)

I had mentioned that I lean left politically. But not that far, and I jump back and forth quite a bit. I like to think of myself as middle of the road in a world where the extremes are all that we tend to see exemplified in the modern media.

They'd like to have us think everyone is a die hard Limbauist or a raving abortionist looking to impose "I have 2 mommies" books on everyone else's kids.

As I've matured, I've grown to see that the real world is filled with good people who vary on what they think is rational, acceptable and workable in society. I have friends across the spectrum and I can generally find good things in most people's outlook.

So as I mentioned, I lean left on issues like healthcare, taxes for social spending and the like. I love to see people come together to help the less fortunate. Yes, there will be abuse, but they'll answer to God and he's asked us explicitly in the scriptures to give freely. Its called charity.

I lean right on social issues like abortion, personal responsibility, family and gun rights.

Well that last one is kinda new.

5 years ago, I owned no guns and really felt like guns were an anachronism. I felt we'd progressed beyond a world where people needed guns to solve problems. Thinking with your head and not with your fist, as it were.

I was appalled at the disparity of gun violence in other developed countries.

I felt like having a gun was ridiculous because the odds were someone in my house would be hurt with them rather than use them to defend myself.

I had not touched a gun in 15 years, I'd grown out of them and was, frankly, scared of them.

I remember seeing a woman packing a pistol on a backpack trip with some boy scouts a few years back and was furious that she was doing so (open carry on public lands is mostly OK here in WA state).

Then Hurricane Katrina happened.

As a mormon, I spend a fair amount of time focusing on providing for my family. It is one of our tenets to prepare for emergencies, and that involves having the necessities set aside for a rainy day. Or a hurricane day, as it were.

We store food and other provisions that will help us in an emergency - be it unemployment, natural disasters or a terrorist incident.

Read more about it here:

Here is a nice example: A few years ago we went without electricity for 7 days in the middle of a WA winter due to severe storms. We didn't even blink, but many around us were really hurting. No way to heat their house, no way to cook food (if they had it), no way to function. They were out of luck and by the end of the third or fourth day they were getting a bit dicey. Luckily, power was brought back online before things got really desperate.

Weirdly, many didn't learn a thing from those dark days in December. Me? I learned I needed a way to wash clothes without our machines and quickly addressed it.

You have to realize how precarious our current way of living is. JIT (just in time) is the way everything works. Food in the stores, gas for our cars. Everything. Our entire society is now based on efficiencies in a system that could easily just end with frighteningly ease.

Yes, I'm a bit of a prepper. It goes back to our roots as a people persecuted and driven about. There was an extermination order in Missouri to kill us all at one point. So that kinda stuff gets to you. Add in the fact that our grandparents eked out a subsistence living in the western states during the depression and you get a certain outlook on life.

So when Katrina hit and I watched the mess unfold a good friend of mine asked me what I'd do with all that bounty stored away if something happened in Seattle and the golden horde came knocking. He pointed out that non-violence was great code when your opponent is moral, but wouldn't work well when hungry gang members came to the neighborhood and 911 was dead.

It stuck there in my head for weeks. I had nothing to defend myself or my family with. Nothing but words and maybe a stick. Not good.

I fought it for *along* time. It took from 2005 when that went down until the fall of 2008 for me to finally address that need.

In the end I decided a few things:

1. If I didn't have weapons to defend myself and my family, then I was out of luck for sure if it hit the fan.
2. I wasn't sure if I would use them, but the time to make the decision was now, and not when they knocked on my door. I was out of luck if a disaster hit - the shelves would be empty of bullets and guns by then.
3. There are ways to mitigate and control the risk inherent in bringing a deadly weapon into the home.

So off I went to the store, a weird knot in my stomach.

Continued tomorrow...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Welcome, Part II

As I mentioned in my last post, I came to guns in a round about way.

I'd been around them as a kid, but as I grew up, got married and had kids, they were not part of my life they way they had been. And I didn't really miss them as I had other hobbies.

As I mentioned in my last post, my wife and her family was very pro-gun control. Coming from the left, guns were seen as relics of a past - a barbarous past where cowboys shot it out with bad guys because things were not yet civilized. Furthermore, my wife's main concern concerned was that if guns were available in the house, that we'd have an accident and lose a child. She didn't want to be responsible for such issues. I can certainly understand that.

To many not in rural areas, guns are mainly abstract things - the focus of periodic stories of some moron leaving his gun out and a kid shooting themselves (or others) with it. In fact, I remember two examples of gun violence as a kid in Canada (a kid shot himself and another shot a cousin for teasing him). Both not good.

Couple that with some very strong advocating by groups such as the Brady Center etc. and you get a media saturated with statistics that point out the number of deaths in the US vs. everywhere else (including Canada) and you have a pretty air-tight case for gun control. Remove guns, remove the problem. Its an enticing argument and I bought it. Mostly.

Furthermore, the more I refined my philosophy of life, the more I came to see Gandhi and MLK as the heros they were - and that non-violence was the way to enact social change. I grew up in Canada, remember, and I don't carry around the same ideology about the US revolution. We did just fine in Canada without having to resort to rebellion and treason. I also grew to believe that the military industrial complex was more of a threat to this country than fraudulent congressmen or the so-called welfare queens. I think Ike was right on when he warned us back in the late 50s or early 60s about what could become of us. Certainly the Bush years solidified that in many peoples minds.

Add in Christ's admonition to turn the other cheek and to not live by the sword and I was on pretty solid ground.

Until last year sometime.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Welcome to the journal of a new gun owner.

I decided to put this together after a a year of wrastlin' with the idea of gun ownership and my political leanings. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Let me fill in some details before I go on...

I was born in the United States to a Canadian father and an American mother. My parents made the choice to live in Canada when I turned 3 years old, and I spent my childhood growing up in a small town in Southern Alberta. I'm blessed to be a citizen of both countries.

As I got older, my parents would send me down to the states to stay with my Grandparents in rural Idaho. They lived on a farm and I got to spend weeks (and later months) on the farm doing whatever I wanted.

My grandparents were wonderful. I loved spending the summers with them. One of my favorite things to do was to go shooting. You see, my grandpa was an NRA life member and was pretty motivated by the second amendment. We would go shooting on occasion, but mostly I'd just tramp around with a lever action BB gun. Mainly I hunted birds and shot pop cans.

I would immerse myself in my grandpa's extensive collection of American Rifleman magazines. To this day, I love magazines and the information I can glean from them. I'd poor over those magazines and had all kinds of ideas about how I was going to someday get my own Browning Hi-Power and Ruger 10/22.

My grandpa stored his guns unlocked in a cabinet in the room I slept in. They were freely available, as was the ammunition. I remember getting them out on many occasions and mucking about with them. Although I was always smart about handling them, I look back and marvel at the folly of the whole setup. Of course, we didn't wear seatbelts or helmets on bikes back then either.

Weirdly, I don't remember being taught much about the 4 rules of firearm safety. I don't remember getting lectured to keep my hands off. They were just there. Like hammers. Hammers that could shoot bullets.

As it is with kids, as I got older, girls became a greater focus of my attention. By the mid teen years I transitioned from summers on the ranch to working at home and my life as a teenager.

Funny enough, I don't recall Canada being much different than the US for us when it came to guns. We didn't have any handguns but my Dad had several rifles (a Ruger 10/22, a lever action 30-30 and at least one shotgun). He kept them in the back of his closet, and the ammo was likewise available. Again, pretty silly in my book now that I think about it. I do remember taking the Ruger 10/22 out once and firing it in town limits. I was pretty freaked about it, and only did it once - this happened about the time I was in grade 9.

Anyhow, as I got older, I had my own 22 rilfe and we often went shooting gophers on the ranches surrounding our town. Many of us had guns and we used them. We also had BB guns of various types and we shot with them all the time.

I remember going and shooting handguns and rifles as part of scouts as well. I remember at least once going to a scoutmaster's barn and shooting his .357 revolver. It was pretty big and had quite a kick.

But as I grew up, guns became less and less a part of my life.

I went to college in the US and pretty much focused on the things most students do. Books, classes, punk music and the opposite sex.

Interestingly, I come from a culture that has two very interesting components: self-reliance and communalism. Being Mormon immersed me in a culture where we learned to be independent (food storage, hard work) and at the same time we knew that God expected us to take care of one another. And he meant it in a very practical way, as there were many attempts by the early Mormon church to live collectively in what is called "The Law of Consecration" - where all of our bounty was given to the ecclesiastical leaders to doll out as people needed. It didn't last too long - people being people - and God got pretty upset with us and substituted what we refer to as the lesser law of tithing - where we pay 10 percent of our income to the church to help build God's kingdom and help others.

We believe that someday and we believe we'll be asked to live the Law of Consecration again though. And I think most of us hope we can do it with fairness and equality that such a decree deserves. And don't confuse Mormons with communists or marxists - we don't believe that communism was anything but a shady mimic of the law we had tried to live. It held tyrants and sycophants at the top instead of God. A recipe for failure, and that has certainly played out.

So add this background to a youth spent in Canada - land of universal healthcare and what some south of the border refer to as socialism and you find I'm very different than the average American in many ways.

In college I swung pretty far left, influenced by my soon-to=be bride. She came from the same background, but was farther to the left politically and self identified as a democrat. I'd never voted in the US, having grown up in the north countries - and I didn't take advantage of that until I voted for Bill Clinton over Bush in the early 1990s.

My wife's family was incredible. They were highly educated, had money and were very close; I loved them and fit right in.

They were very liberal in most respects - childcare was very open with no spanking etc. Guns were *not* something of interest, and most of the family believed in gun control quite strongly. Guns were not part of their lives and never had been, even though they'd spent years in Boise, Idaho growing up.

Me? I'd had guns. I'd even been a member of the NRA as a kid (thanks Grandpa) but I had little to do with them now and it was never an issue in our courtship or marriage.

Part II coming soon...