Shooting Guns in L.A.

I shot a gun for the first time last week.

It was a 9 mm handgun, a friend’s, and we were firing at paper targets at the LA gun club — in the lane to my left, a couple of my buddies had rented out an assault rifle; in the lane to my right, two young men in their twenties sporting Ronaldo and Roethlisberger jerseys were using an enormous rifle with a scope.

Being a good Millennial, I’ve grown up watching my fair share of gun-filled violent movies, played a couple first-shooter games, attended historical re-enactments of the Revolutionary/Civil War, and wondered what it would be like to curve a bullet ala “Wanted.”

My impressions on shooting a gun for realsies:

1. Movie sound effects do a good job of replicating what bullets sound like, but after twenty-one years of Scorcese and Tarantino films, nothing really prepares you for just how loud and heavy a gun feels in the palm of your hand. The recoil is anticipated, but still blows you off balance.

2. All of a sudden, men become super delicate around guns, as if they’re handling babies.

3. They never show the cases flying back in your face and how annoying it gets. Even more irritating is when guys like Ronaldo/Roethlisberger are using excessive firearms at an indoor shooting range and the casings are flying from their lane into yours.

4. You can’t see shit. My first two times shooting at a target the standard length away, I couldn’t see where my bullets were going. At all. It was only until I reeled the target back in that I saw all my shots were going up and to the left. With the exception of two of the people in my group, all of my friends and I were newbies. Our aim (everyone, including the two experienced folks) was complete crap.

5. This may be morbid, but the whole time I couldn’t stop thinking that suicide is for the brave. If I went out and bought a gun with the intention of harming myself, I wouldn’t know how to load it, how to operate it, etc. Having that thing weigh down in your hand settles a feeling of danger and anxiety in the pit of your stomach. Firing it is a type of release, but before you get to that point, it’s a whole lot of tension. You think you’ve watched enough movies to know what it’s like to handle one, but nothing prepares you for how unsafe it all feels. Folks who are looking to commit suicide by gun have to have some serious guts and a real, dark misery that the click of a safety release can’t deter. May they rest in peace.

6. Ammo is expensive. The friend who rented out the assault rifle (which only cost $10 to rent), ended up paying around $93 that night, mainly because ammo totaled up to over $50. So now you know: guns are cheap, but ammo is the real killer.

Conclusions on gun control and the like based on my impressions:

1. I call bullshit on movies in which protagonists pick up guns “just like that.” It’s not the most intuitive machine, and characters who carry one around and figure out how to properly use one in the span of a day are completely unrealistic.

2. If only men could instinctively act this way around say, pastries, then life would be so much more wonderful and filled with brownies.

3. Assault rifles are so excessive. People are having fun with their handguns shooting paper targets. WHY IS IT NECESSARY RONALDO/ROETHLISBERGER?!

4. I already supported gun control before this, but after this experience, I am a hundred and ten percent for harsher background checks, harder tests to attain permits to carry, and not giving out permits to carry, period. When mass shootings occur, an oft-cited comment of the NRA is “well, if only someone in the vicinity had a gun, then someone could have stopped the shooter.” Bullshit. Absolute bullshit. It is so difficult to aim, fire, and shoot at a stationary target in a controlled environment. Imagine dozens of people running around, people falling down bleeding/dying, and a mass shooter using multiple assault weapons to open fire. I don’t believe that any ordinary civilian would be able to whip out their gun and properly take down a moving target in the midst of dozens of moving people without harming many others in the process. You need to put in hours at a range before you can get anywhere close to consistently hitting targets well. And those, as mentioned before, are only stationary targets in a stable setting.

The argument that we should be able to keep guns in our homes to defend against break-ins and robbers is similarly flawed — any average American who doesn’t spend a decent amount of time being trained how to use a gun and how to shoot a target is going to completely miss a robber and do more collateral damage to their house before they come close to hitting a person sprinting away.

You know those movies we used to watch as kids (and adults) when the bad guys are shooting like crazy at the good guys, and they completely miss the good guy, and then we’d be like “that’s so unrealistic! How have they not hit the good guy yet?” For example, no matter how many people are gunning after him, Indiana Jones never gets hit. Everyone’s always like “wtf, how is that possible?” Yeah, I believe that now. After seeing how hard it is to hit something not-moving, I believe it all.

Finally, after having trouble handling a gun just normally, any amateur who points a gun sideways … well, that’s just the dumbest thing I’ve heard. It now makes me realize how completely ridiculous “Wanted” was.

5. I think #5 already speaks for itself.

6. How much do police departments spend on ammo each year? More accurately, how much do cartels, gangs, and mobs spend on ammo each year? That’s gotta be one of the biggest costs up there.

Moral of the story: I can see why people find firing an arm therapeutic, and I’m sure it’s a lot more fun when outdoors, but I personally don’t understand the national obsession. Keep your guns, but be safe. And there shouldn’t be, for any reason, an untrained, inexperienced, average American who is just allowed to walk around in public with a gun attached to their hip. Or attain a gun without any training at all. Inexcusable.

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