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Why have real guns?

For the first sixteen years of my life, my experience with shooting was limited to single-shot pellet guns at arcades. The USSR, my former country of detention, did not permit mere subjects to have arms. New York City, my family's first residence in the United States was scarcely better in that respect.

Although I always had an interest in military history, the idea of having weapons of my own was quite foreign to me at the time. In 1990, a year after my arrival to the United States, I lived in Urbana, IL. My neighbor, an elderly Jewish gentleman, let me fire about thirty rounds from his Marlin 60 and I was hooked. That man, by the way, came from Russia in 1905 with his grandfather. His family wanted to escape pogroms. It did not register in my mind until later that a shotgun and an autoloading rifle were always in his den, both loaded.

The next day my father and I went to the local Fleet Farm and bought me the cheapest BB gun they sold. It cost $24.95 and represented a very lavish purchase given the state of our finances at the time. Later that day I found out that nowhere except on our friend's property can I legally shoot the BB gun. Not knowing the laws all that well and afraid of consequences, I returned the BB gun to the store.

Calving and Hobbes meet Star Trek

The next few years passed with me reading about guns but never considering owning them. While in high school in Minnesota, I parroted the local pravda's assertions that guns and gun nuts were bad even as I had photos of myself with other people's guns. I sent those photos to relatives in Russia so they could see how free I was.

When I was sixteen, a police instructor taught me and my parents the basics of firearms safety. I enjoyed the learning tremendously but came away thinking that guns were noisy, expensive, too complex to re-assemble after cleaning. Moreover, I did not know of shooting ranges and thought that I'd have to know people with land in order to practice.

Somewhat later, I started getting concerned about gun control. If history was any indication, unarmed populations generally fared very poorly in the face of any adversity. Knowing myself to be a lousy shot, I started this web site, a single page entitled "Life Insurance" back then. The purpose was to convince others to get armed and trained.

In 1997, my girlfriend was being stalked. At that time, I had borrowed a .22 pistol from a friend and practiced with it. That gun became our only defensive weapon. Some time later, I was riding to work with another designer and she asked me if I heard the news about the import ban. Turns out that the availability of weapons was about to decrease further yet. That evening I came home with an SKS rifle, a bag of stripper clips and all of the 7.62x39 ammunition that the store had, about 320 rounds in all.

What I would have much preferred at the time was a single-shot arcade style pellet gun. I was no fan of the noise, the recoil, the range fees, the cleaning involved in the ownership of a real rifle. Add to that the lousy accuracy that a tyro like me had and the abject pain I felt parting with my hard-earned and scarce money...I would have preferred a cheap BB gun.


Daisy air gun

Mak90 rifle

So why did I buy a weapon instead of a toy for sport? The motivator was the realization that I may not have the choice of getting armed soon. The knowledge that people who wished me disarmed would have no trouble taking an air gun. I knew that my rifle skills were poor but hoped to do well enough at ranges not exceeding the length of the hallway.

Other guns followed later. It was only after I acquired combat weapons that I allocated money for sport, mainly with training youngsters in mind. I now own the same cheap BB gun that I had once wanted. I fired it once, for sentimental reasons. The point of this long-winded story is that I would not have become a gun owner had it not been for the people pushing gun control. They can be proud of themselves for they supplied the motivation for yet another American to get armed and trained. I do not think they quite understand that once armed, a free man cannot be disarmed, only defeated.

A toy and a weapon

Rifle, seven magazines, a smile

I do not hunt. I do not compete. I do not collect for the sake of having interesting objects in my posession. The only reason why I own guns is, according to the BATF, not sporting. Self-defense is the one use that our government does not view as legitimate...an attitude that is quite disturbing in the people who are supposedely employed by the taxpayers. I can only wonder what they are up to that they prefer people around them to be unequipped to resist aggression.

Over time, I have introduced quite a few people to firearm basics. I have given guns as gifts to people whose lives were especially precious to me. Back in Russia, I was born too late to make much difference. Here, in the land of the free, I hope to influence the outcome of the population control end-game one training session, one web page or, in an emergency, one round at a time.


I was asked once why I put so much importance on pieces of metal and wood. My friend Dennis Bateman answered that question very eloquently. The artifacts we use do not much matter: the values for which they stand matter very much.

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