GUN Finally, some good media! "New York Times"

Discussion in 'On Topic' started by reman, Jul 18, 2006.

  1. reman

    reman New Member

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    http://travel2.nytimes.com/2006/07/14/travel/escapes/14shoot.html?n=Top%2fReference%2fTimes%20Topics%2fPeople%2fB%2fBlumenthal%2c%20Ralph
    Bull’s-Eyes of Texas: Getting a Gun License

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    Students on the firing line during a class in Houston.

    THE snap-snap-snap of small-arms fire was echoing around the Hot Wells Shooting Range in Cypress, Tex., as Jim Pruett set up a wall of humanoid targets against an earthen berm.

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    “Is the line ready?” shouted Mr. Pruett, an affable guns and ammo dealer, pausing to marvel at the golden glow from the dust of expended brass cartridges ashimmer in the setting sun. “Anyone forget which end the bullet comes out?”
    Moments later we were blasting away, trying to put down an imaginary assailant just three yards from us.
    It was the final exercise in a daylong course for a coveted Texas certification — the license to carry a concealed handgun. “In Texas, we don’t carry guns because we have to,” Mr. Pruett told me later. “We carry them because we get to.”
    There’s no telling how many Texans actually walk around armed, but by Department of Public Safety figures, 247,345 men and women, more than 1 percent of the population, may legally carry a handgun provided it is truly concealed and not out in mischievous view.
    A majority of states — 36, including Texas — require the authorities to issue a concealed-handgun license to anyone who meets certification and is not ineligible, like felons. Two others, Vermont and Alaska, do not require a license to carry a concealed weapon. Ten states, including New York, are “may issue” states, where applicants must demonstrate a special need. Two — Wisconsin and Illinois — prohibit concealed weapons altogether. Local laws also vary.
    Nationwide, for better or worse, Americans own some 220 million guns, and half the households in the country are believed to be armed.
    “You’re not going to be the victims of chaos,” Mr. Pruett had earlier promised the class of 50 — a cross-section of Texas society who gathered over coffee, doughnuts and the filled Czech pastries called kolaches not long after sunup on a Sunday in a makeshift classroom in a strip mall near his gun shop in the northwest Houston suburbs. “You’re going to be the solution to chaos.”
    I didn’t know about that. I had decided several months earlier to learn how to shoot a gun not out of any vigilante complex or illusion that the Texas Rangers could now stand down because I was on the job. Rather and quite simply, without any political statement for or against gun control — in Texas, they say, gun control means using both hands — or any desire to shoot defenseless animals, I wanted to learn how to handle a gun and see what it took to be licensed to carry one.
    In the end, and to my surprise, I learned about more than shooting. I learned about not shooting.
    My schooling had begun at Top Gun, a Houston training center, where I started with the popular Glock 19, the simple Austrian 9-millimeter semiautomatic favored by many police departments.
    The orientation was clearly defensive. “We’re not looking to kill anybody, just to stop them,” explained my tattooed instructor, Rico Mastroianni, fiercely clad in combat black and armed with an array of pistols, knives and pepper spray. That meant, he said, exerting only enough force to stave off an immediate and unavoidable deadly threat — an armed attacker in the home, say. But if the intruder was just carrying out booty or fleeing, he could not be legally shot. Property was not worth killing, or dying, for.
    He led me through the three cardinal rules of gun-handling: 1) there is no such thing as an unloaded gun — it is always assumed to be loaded; 2) never point the muzzle at anything you don’t wish to destroy; 3) keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to destroy it.
    After removing the 15-round magazine and verifying that the chamber was empty, he handed me the gun. I immediately curled my finger around the trigger.
    Mr. Mastroianni shook his head. “Even though I just told you,” he said, “instinctively you put your finger inside the trigger guard.”
    I berated myself. Dumb and dumberer. But it wasn’t just me, he said — every beginner did it.
    He said TV and the movies were to blame. “If you see a cop show,” he said, “it’s the worst handling of guns you’ll ever see.” People who know not to reach out and grab a knife by the blade think nothing of picking up a stray gun and waving it around.
    After demonstrating how to “tap” the magazine into place in the handle and “rack” a round into the chamber with a quick pinch-pull on the back of the sliding frame, Mr. Mastroianni showed me how to clasp the gun in my right hand (finger along the barrel off the trigger), filling in space on the handle with my left hand, meshing the fingers in a steadying grip.
    “We don’t do any ‘Charlie’s Angels’ where the gun comes up and down,” he said, sweeping the gun in a theatrical arc. “We don’t do any bowling either — the gun doesn’t come up.”
    He showed me how to present the gun forward, align the front and back sights and center the luminescent dot on the front sight on the target. And how to take up the slack and squeeze the trigger slowly with just the tip of the finger.
    “The trick is to let the bang surprise you,” Mr. Mastroianni said. “How in the world do you let the bang surprise you? I got a gun in my hand full with bullets. I’m going to fire this thing and I know it’s going to go bang. That’s where the discipline comes in. I have to be completely focused on this front sight and I have to be so subtle on the trigger that I’m not thinking about the trigger. Front sight, front sight, front sight, squeeze subtly not pull, front sight, front sight — oooo, it went off!”

    ON the Top Gun range, with the target three yards away — most gunfights occur at close quarters in conditions of darkness and confusion — I kept hitting low and to the left. I was flinching, not letting the bang surprise me. But over a few months of practice trying out different weapons — a Sig Sauer P226, a Springfield 1911, a Smith & Wesson 686 and an FN Herstal, among others — I improved my scores. The weapons were not cheap: the Glock went for about $530, the Sig for around $780 and the Herstal for around $900.
    Flushed with pride at having mastered a new skill, I was ready to go for a concealed-handgun license.
    The 10-hour course certified by the Department of Public Safety convened promptly at 8 on an already sweltering Sunday morning in the storefront classroom near the Pruett gun shop. “How many people here have an F.B.I. number?” asked Jim Pruett’s son, Sam, who was leading the class and also wore all black with two pistols and a knife — it had to be the standard instructor’s uniform, I decided. No hands went up. “Good,” he said, “that’s an eligibility test right there.” But he was not going to take our word that we weren’t felons. Among the reams of forms we filled out were fingerprint cards.
    We each got a 63-page book on the Texas concealed-handgun laws and selected statutes, information we would be tested on in a final exam. But it was not a tactics or shooting course. It was assumed everyone there already knew how to use a gun. Rather, it was about when not to.
    “Shooting is always the last resort,” the younger Mr. Pruett cautioned, and quoted a famous maxim of Clint Smith of the gun-training mecca Thunder Ranch in Lakeview, Ore.: “Every bullet has a lawyer attached to it.” Figure on paying $25,000 to $150,000 in legal fees for even a defensible shooting, he said.
    It was never permissible to wave a weapon in warning, if, say, someone cut you off on the highway, he said. And the only permissible blood-alcohol level for anyone carrying a gun is zero.
    What if we were armed and got stopped for speeding? One thing not to blurt out to a cop (or anyone else, for that matter) is: “I’ve got a gun.” Rather, he said, hand over the gun permit with the driver’s license and say, “Officer, how can I safely give you my gun?”
    “The No. 1 circumstance preceding a homicide is an argument,” he said, segueing into a lesson on conflict-resolution under the heading “Some People Are Just Plain Crazy.”
    To defuse a tense situation, he told us to remember the acronym Leaps: Listen to what others are saying, Empathize, Ask questions, Paraphrase the situation and Summarize.
    “We’re only able to control ourselves,” he said. “Start with that. Trust your already keen ability to predict violence.”
    And when force became unavoidable, he said, it had to be minimal. “The object is to stop, to control or neutralize,” he said. “The objective is not to kill. I shoot someone. He’s down. I put my foot on his throat and give him one more. Is that justified?”
    He answered his own question: “No.”
    From the back came a voice: “You should not have used your foot.” (There’s always a wiseguy.)
    A veteran from the nearby Jersey Village Police Department, Sgt. H. B. Norris, arrived to take our fingerprints. He looked at us sadly. The “hit rate” for police in gunfights is 14 percent — meaning that 86 percent of the time officers miss their targets — he said. “I really worry about you people because I’ve been doing this all my life,” Sergeant Norris said. “It goes down very fast.”
    We filled out all the forms and took the final exam, 50 questions that ranged from slam dunks (“True or false: the best way to neutralize negative behavior in another person is with physical force”) to more thoughtful conundrums: “There are four elements to a conversation: sender, message, receiver and feedback. Which of these is the most important to make sure the message was received or delivered correctly?” (Feedback.) I aced it.
    Then it was off to the range to prove that we could, after all, safely handle a gun. My score wasn’t perfect, but it was respectable enough.
    In two months, he said, the license should be in the mail from Austin. And then what? I wondered. Would I really go around armed? I thought not.
    But it’s good — and a little scary — to know I could.

    Cliffs: Guy from NYTimes gets a Texas CCW from Jim Pruett at www.jimpruett.net
     
  2. Zombie Pornstar

    Zombie Pornstar I'm cumming RAWL

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    Nice article. The NYTimes hires some talented writers.
     
  3. DaJMan

    DaJMan When i was young, i dreamed of being a baseball

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    i thought everything was good up untill this point... after all the training and practice he went through, he still is scared of guns.
     
  4. Gimik

    Gimik New Member

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    It's all the brainwashing he's had up until then. He still thinks that people that carry a gun are mental. It's very depressing.
     

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