Monday, March 9, 2015

Guns, Guns, Guns

step 5. Place index finger on trigger, take aim and gently squeeze rearward until hammer is released and falls forward striking the firing pin.
Be prepared for loud noise and recoil."

Another gun.

I have purchased five handguns over the course of my 31 year police career. Does that seem like a lot? Oh...sorry. I have friends who have purchased five in one weekend.

The first was a Smith and Wesson Model 67. Stainless steel, wood grips, six shot .38. In early April 1979 I was a security officer at the University of Denver. One morning I received a call...actually, the call. Greenwood Village (a Denver suburb) was offering me a job. "Go buy a gun," Sergeant Christenson said.

Go buy a gun. This was the first job I ever had where a sidearm might be required. For the rest of a police carreer, however long, I would carry with me the means to kill another human being. Well.... Actually, my deepest thought was that I lived totally hand to mouth and would now have to shell out big bucks for my pistol.

I would need.... What? A letter from the Chief? Written permission from the Governor...from God? New York (where I'd grown up), even back then, had an elaborate process intended to chill an intemperate soul's impulse buying for nefarious reasons. I was ready to face the bureaucracy attendant to purchasing a handgun.

The paper the clerk slid in front of me said, basically, "Kid, have you ever been arrested?" Well, there was one night my friend JC and I were stopped leaving a bar. He had, with some enthusiasm, "peeled out" leaving the parking lot. In front of a Monroe County sheriff's deputy. The bartender Vinnie (himself a former deputy - a career path I would soon learn was relatively common. My Bartender Vinnie.... But in 1975 Marisa Tomei was only 11) talked us out of trouble. But, I digress.

No, I'd never been arrested. I paid a little over $100 (and ate noodles for a month) and I went home the proud owner of an actual pistol. Years later, after my next employer issued me an S&W Model 19 I sold my pistol so I could buy hockey skates. 

My next was an off duty/back up five shot Chief Special. It fit in a pocket and I never learned to shoot it straight. I sold that one, too.

When I reentered law enforcement after a short, uneven stint as a lawyer, I bought another Smith - this one a six-something semi-auto. We really never bonded - I'm not really much of a de-cock guy. Yes, this is slow pitch....

A very good friend introduced me to a plastic gun made by an Austrian company called Glock and I was smitten. For eighteen years I've carried a 9mm Glock 19 - a small version of grown up big brother Glock 17. That is, until....

I have been, since 1979, a consumer of shooting range training. They told me where to shoot and how many times to shoot it, and I did. Sometimes I was good, sometimes not. My range PTSD kicked up from time to time, leading to sleepless nights (I knew the level of my confidence based on what time I awoke, to toss and turn, on range day). But my Glock 19 kept me sane, safe and in the good graces of range staff.

Now I am range staff - the program administrator. Go figure. I'm off to instructor school, requiring me to prove my worth among the gun guys. So, I decided to buy a new gun. Step up to the also 9mm Glock 17?

"If you're going to do the 17," a good friend said, "Go to the 34. It is the finest combat handgun made."

Any guesses what kind of pistol he carries?

I got to shoot his 34, preparing to get myself through the course. It is a beautiful handgun. So I bought one of my own. The owner of the shop handed me the weapon (after I had passed the background check) and said "Enjoy. I hope you never need it."

Thirty-six years after my first pistol that kind of comment still raises the hair on the back of my neck.

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