When they’re not attempting to assassinate Republican lawmakers playing baseball or shooting their neighbors, Democrats with guns are doing equally terrifying things with the objects they claim to despise. Recently, Sean Nelson wrote a horrifying article in The Stranger about his experience getting a conceal carry permit. Nelson is strongly anti-gun and pro-gun control while appearing in print to be somewhat rational about it.
Both sides have a point.
Both cases are founded on coherent legal and moral principles.
Ad hominem attacks on gun owners also contribute to the cacophony, drowning out valid arguments for increased gun regulation with emotional calls to ban all guns or repeal the Second Amendment altogether
In order to understand the gun rights advocates, Nelson embarked on a journey to get trained and licensed as a concealed weapon carrier.
My project was simple: Buy a handgun and carry it, loaded, on my person, for some period of time. My goal was even simpler: See how it felt. Prior to this experiment, I had never even held a handgun. The only one I ever saw up close belonged to my father, a Walther PPK; he showed it to me once when I was 18. I didn’t pick it up because I was worried it might go off.
I had no illusion that learning to hold, shoot, own, care for, and carry one would make me an expert in anything, only that it would bring me one step closer to being able to participate in the gun-control debate without having to say, “I mean, I’ve never even held a gun before, but…”
It seems like a rational and admirable goal to try and understand your opponent by walking in his shoes and becoming knowledgable about a subject before attempting to debate it. I encourage people who are scared of guns or don’t understand gun owners spending time learning and training with those gun owners. What a great idea! I will spare you the inevitable breathless description of applying for paperwork and background checks which, according to Nelson, was far too easy (even though it took thirty days to get his license after the appropriate checks were done). He noted on the copious state paperwork, importantly, that he had never been hospitalized for mental health reasons.
Nelson had a good experience with the gun professional who taught his course, which is not surprising to those of us who understand the vast demonization of gun owners that has occurred in the mainstream press. It’s always a laugh when one of these anti-gun nuts meets a real gun owner and finds out we are human after all.
I learned more in our four-hour conversation over pancakes and coffee than I have from any number of impassioned pro- and anti-gun editorials. Internet shouting is no match for face-to-face communication, particularly with someone who knows more than you do.
…I felt like I could ask him anything. So I asked: Why do you need a license to drive a car but not to own a device designed to kill people? His answer, though not surprising, was undeniably true. The right to drive isn’t enshrined in the Bill of Rights, but gun ownership is. We can debate the definitions of “well regulated” and “militia” and “arms,” but in 2008, the US Supreme Court confirmed: “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm.” End of debate.
Then came the hilarious account of Nelson’s time at the shooting range. #LiterallyShaking.
My hands trembled terribly. My heart pounded. My body felt unnatural and absurd. I fired the three rounds, felt the kick, smelled the smoke, and went to the back of the room to await my next turn.
Then it got weird when he actually bought one and took it home.
You could almost say that a gun wants to be shot. I know that sounds like a magic busload of hippie nonsense, and I have no doubt that experienced gun collectors would scoff at the idea, but I swear I felt it. Not like it was calling out to me or anything, but as soon as it was in the room, it was the main thing about that room, a temperature raiser, an undeniable source of power.
Um, no, sir. A gun does not “want to be shot.” It is an inanimate object with no feelings or desires. The fact that Nelson is ascribing feelings to his gun should raise red flags about his mental state. That was my first tip-off that this person should not have a gun. Then came more red flags.
The thing I found harder to get used to was this feeling: I’m carrying a gun. Holy shit. There’s a gun in my pants. I wonder if anyone can see it poking through my shirt. Why would anyone be looking at my shirt? Because there’s a gun underneath it! Because, as previously mentioned, I have a gun. Gun, gun, gun, gun, gun, gun, gun, gun, gun…The sensation of gun at the center of everything, the existence of which was known only to me, never subsided.
I could imagine how some people might feel emboldened or vindicated by the existence of this secret power. But to me, it never felt like that. I never felt glamorous, like a secret agent in a movie. I just felt furtive and untrustworthy, afraid of being found out. The few times I went out without carrying, having forgotten or just chosen not to bother, I didn’t feel unsafe. I felt unburdened.
Something is clearly wrong with this person. But the next few paragraphs confirmed that not only should he not have a gun, he lied to the state to acquire it.
The first time I was hospitalized for acting on suicidal ideation, I was 15 years old…I have envisioned killing myself in styles baroque and anonymous. I have written extensive suicide notes, including personalized messages to everyone I care about. I have pushed the edge of a razor blade until the tip punctured my wrist, and then stopped. But the realistic, recurring fantasy has always involved a gun.
Wait a minute. Remember that questionnaire from the state that asked if Nelson had ever been hospitalized for mental health issues? He said no. I don’t know what they call that in his neck of the woods, but that’s fraud most everywhere I know. It would appear that Nelson acquired a concealed carry permit illegally. And reading further, there is no doubt he is a danger to himself if not others.
Though I hadn’t admitted this to myself earlier, it was perhaps inevitable that the very first thing I did when I brought the gun home and was alone with it was to put it in my mouth. Unloaded at first, then loaded (which may account for my difficulty loading the magazine).
Nelson should be investigated right now for defrauding the state of Washington and he should be evaluated for his own safety and the safety of those around him. Someone get this man help and alert the King County Sheriff’s Office that Nelson has an invalid concealed carry permit. In the meantime, maybe we should start seriously considering making it much more difficult for Democrats to get their hands on guns.