[Ed: We welcome new DRGO contributor, Mark Preston. We would love to publish more stories by our members about their entry and participation in the world of firearms and 2A activism.]
When I was about 8 years old, I was blessed with being sent to Deerfield, a day camp in St. Louis, Missouri. The activities provided included going to the gun range and getting to shoot five .22 caliber Long Rifle bullets down range at a time. Oh, what joy this was! And I was pretty good, earning NRA marksman and sharpshooter badges. The day camp provider, St. Louis County Day School, continued having weapons on-campus and a rifle team until the 1980s, when the range space was given to the football program. I wonder how much political correctness was behind that change.
We lived on 26 rural acres, Dad had a handgun and a rifle in the house. But we didn’t hunt. Those were likely for home defense, as the house drive led to a nearby out-of-town. One day a group of men, all armed, showed up at our door. Wild dogs had killed some livestock and were going to be hunted down. Dad got his rifle and went with them, but I was too young to be allowed to tag along. I was probably 9 years old at that time.
After we moved from that rural area, where every farmer had guns, both for hunting game and self-defense, the weapons were sold off. Living in an urban area made them seem unnecessary to my parents.
Some decades went by. During late 30s, I was watching Monday Night Football when Howard Cosell reported that John Lennon had been shot. Following that event, I took myself to a movie line queue in Westwood, California with an anti-firearm petition (where I got this I cannot recall). Oddly enough, not one person was willing to support “doing something” about Lennon’s murder. I hung onto this sentiment for quite some time, until I moved from Los Angeles to Albuquerque, New Mexico. There, I purchased a .38 caliber revolver and kept it bedside. One Thanksgiving I went to the Albuquerque Police Department’s gun range and test fired it. I purchased that weapon because my home there was situated in such as way as could facilitate some miscreant making a quick get-a-way from an armed robbery.
I also read a self-defense pamphlet by Massad Ayoob. It explained self-defense in the home. My understanding from that is that the police, even if they believe an act to be justified self-defense, still turn the evidence over to local prosecutors, often City or District Attorneys, for final determination. So, a self-defense shooting in the home best be “truer than true”, in the words of my lawyer friend Joe. Oh, and other piece of Ayoob advice is to not talk to the news media. True then, truer now.
An event that drastically changed my mind about what is now called “gun violence prevention” (formerly and honestly, “gun control”) was a date I had with a woman who traveled the back roads of New Mexico as a public relations agent for a livestock cooperative. Exiting the City of La Espanola, she was followed by one or two pickup trucks filled with men hooting, hollering and making her fear for her person. She brandished her semi-automatic handgun and the assailants, as cowards do, backed off.
But I was shocked that she had been accosted. La Espanola has a seedy reputation in New Mexico, but I had no idea it was that low. In retrospect, while New Mexico is no California when it comes to undercutting self-defense, I am not certain that the weapon she possessed was legal. But I was so relieved that she was not gang raped, robbed, murdered, and left on the side of a lonely byway. Thereafter, I lost all interest in the case against people being able to protect themselves. The lady certainly would not have been rescued in time by passing Highway Patrol or police personnel.
I’m now in my 70s, living in California. Some of the July 2020 rioting took place less than half a mile from where I live. The gang of protesters came, as a group in a line, down the sidewalk past the property where I live. Everyone here was in a state of confusion and consternation, except for one tenant whose boyfriend is a Black Lives Matters member. He is alleged to have threatened the life of the resident manager, causing her to leave the state.
I wanted to buy a handgun. I had to make appointments at gun shops even to see weapons. The prices were quite high at the height of the unrest. But I found that my hands were too weak to rack the slides of the few handguns I held. So I’ve decided on a shotgun, and have to find one that suits me now.
If Democrats’ accusations about Republican extremism were true, every sensible progressive, every “commonsense” individual, would own firearms to counter the day of the coming conservative coup d’etat. And they are buying more firearms. So here I stand, politely and proudly, as a supporter of our Second Amendment for everyone.
— Mark Preston claims to be an idler but has actually worked hard, from day laborer to librarian to landlord. Before attending Vanderbilt University, he flunked shop but aced home economics. He has authored California Mission Cookery and countless articles on food and cooking. This lifelong foodie blogs at Danger! Men Cooking!