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Today my lunch errands took almost two hours.  I drove fifteen minutes to the Department of Public Safety in Middletown and stood in line for an hour in order to renew my concealed carry permit.

For any of you who might be startled by this and have been or might be in my home, no, I don’t actually own any firearms.  They’re too damn expensive, unfortunately.  But I enjoy shooting with friends and family when I can, and I have a permit as a full expression of my right to do so as a responsible adult.

The line was *huge* - the officers said they had never seen it that busy for that long on any one day.  It was an interesting cross-section of the population: young, old, male, female, executive, working class, white, Hispanic, African American, Asian.  There was a mother there with her teenage/early 20s son; an older couple there together; a middle aged dude in denim jacket and grey ponytail next to a woman in what had to be a $500 suit; two working stiffs chatting in Spanish behind me (who broke off their conversation to say “bless you” in English to me when I sneezed,) and a paralegal in business casual in line in front of me who had driven down thirty minutes from Hartford.  All of us queued up on our lunch hour with our passports for ID and our $70, some with fingerprint cards for new licenses, some with their old permits for renewals.  It was a fairly wide slice of America.

It was also a fairly happy line, as such things go.  When you queue up at DMV, it’s generally an unhappy, rushed, slightly surly environment.  This group of people stood in line for close to an hour, chatting amongst themselves, hanging out, understanding that it would take as long as it would take, and that the two employees who were processing us were going as fast as they could.  And they were – the line wasn’t speeding, but it never stopped moving.

Being there for almost an hour got me to thinking about why I was there, and about all those people in line with me.  That was a line full of (presumably) decent, hardworking people.  No one exceptional there.  Mechanics and paralegals and secretaries and executives and engineers (yes, I people watch and listen to public conversations.)  I didn’t encounter anyone who was less than pleasant.  The thing that brought us all together was the application at the front of the line for our State of Connecticut permit to carry concealed firearms.

Those people – those everyday people – those are the “gun nuts” that the talking heads on your television want you to be afraid of.  

Those are the people who are condemned with every broad brush stroke that tells you that there are “x” millions of guns in this nation that are just WAITING to commit an act of violence.  Those people – the ones who went to their local police department, filled out a form and asked to be fingerprinted.  Who signed up and paid over $100 for a minimum of eight hours of safety training by a police officer.  Who applied for a local permit which includes an FBI background check, and paid $70.  Who, after that came through, applied for the state permit and paid another $70.  And who are now giving up their lunches to stand in an hour long line for the privilege of paying yet another $70 for a renewal and another bad photo ID picture.  I’m sure that like me, many of them don’t even own their own firearms.  But we obey all the laws.

These are the violent freaks so decried on the evening and morning news.  Strangely, they look a lot like you and I.  Or at least, a lot like me.

This is why I sputter incoherently whenever some ivory-tower talking head throws themselves in front of the microphones to demand more gun laws.  There are enough gun laws!  There are four and a half pages of statues pertaining to either firearms or pistol permits on the DPS website.  That’s not four and a half pages of laws, that’s four and a half pages of index.  And that’s just the state laws, not federal.  Please.  We’re not the problem, and imposing greater restrictions on the law-abiding shooting citizenry isn’t going to solve the problem.  I have a feeling that some punk who bought an illegal gun on a street corner for nefarious purposes isn't going to be concerned about if he’s breaking the newest gun-ownership regulations, given that he has no respect for the more serious laws against the nefarious purposes.  The laws are being aimed at, and used against, the people who are already law-abiding.

Now, I firmly believe that there are people out there who shouldn’t have access to firearms, for a variety of reasons.  Of course, many of them shouldn’t have access to kitchen knives or claw hammers either – but those things aren’t sexy enough for the politicians and pundits.  The year that I took the safety course for my permit, the instructor pointed out that there had just been three bank robberies where the weapon used was a claw hammer.  People who are looking to harm other people will always find a way.  Evil exists in this world.  The police can’t be everywhere, and I don’t want them to be.  But in those times where the police aren’t *right there* I want to have the capacity to take care of myself.  Do I regret that the media has decided that the face of permit holding America is missing teeth, wearing a camo jacket, and is married to his cousin?  You bet I do.  But that’s how it is.  All I can do is write long, rambling livejournal posts.

I’m one of those people who believe that the intent of the second amendment applies to me, the individual.  Not because of any analysis of the placement of a comma (my grammar is rotten,) but because of the situation.  The admittedly privileged men who wrote that document had just achieved the overthrow of a tyrannical government by the force of arms by the people.  “It is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government.”  I doubt they anticipated that the people of some future generation who may need to do it again would be doing that with soup spoons.  I don’t generally argue with people about second amendment issues.  The people who argue about it – on both sides of the issue – are generally so entrenched that it’s just a waste of everyone’s time and dander.  As they say – it wastes your time and annoys the pig.  No one will ever convince me, so I don't expect to convince anyone firmly on the other side.

But I would say this to everyone, whatever your opinion on that point.  When the sound bites screaming for more “gun control” start, when they mention Brady, when they start talking about the evil “gun culture,” when they show that gap-toothed dude in the camo jacket – think about those people in that line.  They work with you.  They live next door to you.  They watch your children, bag your groceries, cut your paychecks, and design your computers.  They’re normal, every day, law-abiding citizens. 

They’re me.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 20th, 2010 03:15 am (UTC)
Well, I never expected you to be one of them there gun nuts!

One of these years at Birka we'll have to run away to the Firing Line and send some lead downrange :D

If I ever apply for citizenship it'll be so I can get a carry permit. Massachusetts won't let aliens carry guns. So it's either move to NH or become a citizen.
Feb. 20th, 2010 05:28 am (UTC)
Yup. I is one of those.

At nine years old, my father insisted that I had to learn how to shoot whether I wanted to or not. His philosophy was that he didn't care if I enjoyed it or not, but that if I was going to live in a house with firearms I needed to be knowledgeable enough and comfortable enough to handle them safely. It was fun!

I didn't know there was a range near Birka - very tempting.

Not only will Massachusetts not allow aliens to carry guns, they define "aliens" as anyone not from Massachusetts. Like people from Connecticut or New Hampshire. They're not as scary as New York, but only by a little.

I've heard worse reasons to move to NH.
Feb. 20th, 2010 01:24 pm (UTC)
Working on my papers now. Since we can finally hold dual with UK and US it seems reasonable. Especially considering how we may get hit with extra penalties on IRAs as non citizens. The big issue is they want to know every time I've been out of the country. Since '65. I finally found my draft card, can you believe, after 35 years.
Feb. 21st, 2010 12:11 am (UTC)
That'll be fun to reconstruct...
Feb. 20th, 2010 04:19 pm (UTC)
Dunno nuffin about guns or gun laws (I'm Canadian anyway, the laws here are likely different), so I don't have any firm opinion at all. I think it's a shame we can't keep guns out of the hands of people who use them to kill other people, but I also think that making gun laws does nothing in that way, since people who kill people don't follow gun laws anyway.

Why do you need to carry CONCEALED? I can see why people might want to own a gun, but why do they need to hide it?
Feb. 21st, 2010 12:11 am (UTC)
My point precisely - if they're not worried about the laws against killing people, they're probably not worried about the gun laws.

If I had to venture a guess, I'd guess that the laws in Canada are probably more restrictive, but I don't have any actual knowledge.

Concealed carry is a quirk of Connecticut law - it's the only way to carry legally in this state. If you carry openly you can be charged with threatening, and probably a myriad of assorted "breach of peace" type stuff. The irony is that when people find out you have a concealed carry permit, they start looking at you funny - obviously wondering "Is she? Where?" when the answer is "I'm not." It creates a certain dramatic tension that's not generally appropriate.

I don't target shoot much any more. We don't have enough land, and both range fees and brass are really expensive. Periodically I go to the range with my dad - it's fun.
Feb. 22nd, 2010 11:45 pm (UTC)

A Gun Permit is on my list of Things To Do Before I Die. Mostly because I haven't shot since my Navy days, and I really enjoy it. Not as much as archery, but that's because archery is quieter.

Feb. 23rd, 2010 03:11 am (UTC)
I got mine during the Weicker years. They were ramming through the so called "assault weapon" ban, and whipping up the anti-gun hysteria. I sincerely feared that pistol permits were going to be next on the chopping block, and wanted to make sure that I would be grandfathered in.

Here's an interesting factoid - you can keep your CT permit if you move out of state. You just have to notify the DPS of your new address.

We've got an archery practice in the back during good weather, you know. Last year it was Tuesdays after work - not sure which weekday we'll pick this year. It'll start up again as soon as the ground firms up in the spring. We'd always love to see you if you'd like to come shoot occasionally. Besides, Dorigen and Camma would like to have someone else to shoot with - so far it's just them.
Feb. 24th, 2010 08:12 pm (UTC)
One of these days I'll remember to compose comments offline.
I had a dandy coffee break responding, and then my PC lost the server.

Oh well. The important part is reminding myself to find a chance to get you & my brother together sometime... he who works for TAFKABATF (the agency formerly known as BATF)... You two can have a good conversation on the same side of the equation.

And I'll make sure my sister's nowheres in sight.
Feb. 24th, 2010 09:12 pm (UTC)
Good grief that's a lot of alphabet soup...
Feb. 24th, 2010 10:45 pm (UTC)
that gap-toothed dude in the camo jacket
I'm a supporter of the Brady Campaign to prevent gun violence, and the image of the dude would never have crossed my mind (or their web site http://www.handguncontrol.org/). The images lately are more like Amy Bishop, or the person who shop a convenience store worker who had already handed over the cash, or others of that sort.
I don't have a problem with you and your permit, but I felt that my imagination was being mis-represented.
Feb. 25th, 2010 01:51 am (UTC)
Re: that gap-toothed dude in the camo jacket
That's fair!

Both of those cases are places that I consider covered by existing laws - that weren't enforced. And both fall into the category of people I think shouldn't be allowed to own guns - Amy Bishop especially. At cursory glance, that was gross negligence on the part of previous law enforcement.

But you are definitely entitled to your own visualizations!
Mar. 1st, 2010 02:59 pm (UTC)
Getting our permits is currently part of my plan for our refund whenever the feds deign to deposit it. There's a local man who does the NRA course. James took it a few years back and then the local police department somehow lost his $35 and application for the local permit. It's time to start over. Especially since it will make applying for a job with one of the local security firms easier if he already has the permit.

And both girls want to learn to shoot long guns.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )