Warning: This is NOT technical but I wanted my friends to be able to find it. And it is quite long but, hopefully, interesting.
I grew up in the Southern USA where we really never thought about gun control. Almost every home had hunters of one form or another. My family were mostly rural folks and we had guns for hunting almost anything that could be eaten. Most times that majority of the guns in the house were owned by the oldest male member, like Grandpa. But, Grandma had her own 12 gauge, single-shot shotgun that she used to shoot hawks that might be thinking of raiding her chicken coop - and she was a pretty good shot. Hers was a 12 gauge that had a 30" long-barrel, full choke that would reach out 50-75 yards and bring down (or at least, scare off) almost any predator that threatened her chicks. It was rumored that she also took pot-shots (with rock-salt and bacon-rind filled shells) at any would-be watermelon thief. It wasn't meant to kill them, just to "salt their pants" so they would not come back.
And there were other guns that were owned by other family members who did different kinds of hunting. One cousin had a 20 gauge auto (actually, semi-automatic) with an 28" barrel and a modified choke that he used for bird hunting. Another had a 12 gauge pump, 30" or 32" barrel and full choke that he used for deer hunting along with his rifle.
Almost all of the men over 21 (some over 16) had a 30-06 (same caliber as the M1 military rifle) with either 150gr (long shots) or 180gr (hunting in the brush) that they used for deer hunting. Some had scopes on them while others hunters liked iron sights for hunting in the woods. Most hunting rifles had a 24" barrel although some had the shorter 20" or 22" barrel. Hunters back then used ONLY bolt action rifles because they were far more accurate than a semi-automatic. And everyone had a "trigger job" by the local gun smith so that the break was between 3 and 4 pounds of pressure with a "breaking-glass" action. That cost an extra $20 - $50, depending on the gun smith. But most low-end rifles only cost $200 - $400 depending on caliber, make and model. These were, after all, rugged hunting rifles used at close range in the woods and we used them to bring home meat for the family, not something to "show off" to friends and neighbors.
In the rifle category, most of us had Remingtons or, if you were a bit up-scale, Winchesters. But we heard of some city guys who had Weatherbys - we never saw one but we heard about them. A scope back then cost almost as much as a rifle so only those who hunted where you got a shot of over 150 yards carried such things. If you "rode fence" for someone you always got yourself a 30-30 Winchester, the ultimate Cowboy rifle. Old Timers sometimes carried a Henry 30-30. If you could not afford a Winchester, you might get one by Marlin Mod 336 or a (now discontinued) Savage Mod 99. It usually had a short barrel (24") and its overall length was only about 44". And you carried it in a saddle holster, just like the old-time cowboys did. But, it was NOT a fashion statement! It was necessary for protection against wolves, coyotes (sometimes) and, if you did not carry a pistol, snakes.
Most hunters back then carried a small caliber pistol for shooting snakes and other varmints that might interfere with hunting. Usually a .22 long-rifle or snub-nose .38 tucked into your belt or carried in a hip holster or under the arm - but always out of the way of the rifle. Very few ever thought of carrying a pistol for hunting. Some carried a .45 because that is what they had in the military (Army or Marines) and they had gotten used to it. But .45 ammo was expensive back then - it still is, compared to .22 or .38 caliber.
We started in early our youth (usually six or eight years old) learning to shoot BB guns and by the time we were 10 we had moved up to a .22 caliber rifle (.22 long rifle, of course) for shooting squirrels and rabbits. Usually these were bolt actions as well but some had the .22 auto-loaders that held up to 10 rounds of ammo in the long hollow tube below the barrel. After that, we moved up to a .410 gauge (actually, caliber) shotgun that did not have a lot of recoil (kick) and you could shoot the gun and almost watch the flight of the pellets, just like the BB rifle. Then, at about 16 years old you probably got your first, real manly-man shotgun; a 12 gauge pump. The 12 gauge Remington Wing Master Pump shotgun was the cheapest thing on the market and WalMart carried them in peak hunting season for as low as $90 with a 30" barrel (or 28") and usually any of the three choke variations; full, modified or open.
Since training started at six or eight years old, parents and loved ones greatly emphasized safety. We were well-trained NOT to shoot unless you could make the shot. Again, gun safety was paramount! You did not want to waste ammo. My cousin was probably the best shot in the family. He would line up old-style kitchen matches (the "strike-anywhere" kind) out at about 50 or 60 yards, lie down and try to light the match with a .22 by shooting just above the match so that the heat of the passing shell would light the match. The objective of this was so that you shoot a squirrel in the head rather than in the body and mess up the meat.
If you practiced that shot long enough, eventually, with enough practice and help from friends, family and neighbors, you learned that this is not really complicated. Just a matter of proper breathing, nerves, positioning and focus. (Very similar to making a hard golf shot, like a pre-planned fade or draw that will go the right distance and land where you want it to land. Think of Phil Mickelson's scrambling.) This came in really handy when hunting and you were trying to make a 200- or 300-yard shot. We never tried any shots much longer than that since we were not into "trophy hunting" and we did not want to just wound the animal and have to track them down for two or three hours to make sure that they died and did not suffer. Probably this is one reason that Good Ol' Southern Boys were the best shots in the US Army or Marines.
My cousin would go out in the morning with 10 shotgun shells and bring back, say, five rabbits and five left-over shells. Or four squirrels, two rabbits and four left-over shells. The same thing applied to the even more expensive rifle ammo. A box of 20 30-06 cartridges cost about $10 back then so that was $0.50 per round. (They cost about $20+ these days.) We used the cheaper ammo for target practice - it might have costs $5 but it was only for practice - and you never used more than one box for sighting in and practice. When hunting, you wanted every round to count so you bought the better stuff to be sure that you hit your target. You used the much cheaper .22 LR ammo for "target practice" and general shooting.
Then, about 1960 or so, came the Clint Eastwood movie; "Dirty Harry". That movie drove demand for a .44 magnum pistol, double/single-action, Model 29 Smith and Wesson 6.5"-barrel pistol sky-high. Most of us bought the cheaper Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 magnum. The S&W cost about $500 (even back then) and the Ruger Super Blackhawk (traditionally a 7.5" barrel) cost about $150 - maybe $175. The really GOOD .44 Magnum was the Colt Anaconda, a stainless steel, double/single-action pistol with micro-sights and a 6" barrel. It also had a glass-break, 4-pound trigger right from the factory. But the Ruger was a single-action (cowboy style) piston that had micro-sights and was extremely accurate. I sighted mine in for 50 yards but it was fairly accurate out to 75 yards if you aimed about 6" to 8" high - I brought down a wild hog with that gun. And one time I was hunting (in the rain, no less) took a few shots in the rain out at 125 yards at a deer after my .303 jammed. (Yes, bad hunting karma but I thought that I could make the shot. I quit after the 3rd shot hit the water on the ground in front or beside him.) You could get a scope for either one of those .44 Mag pistols but it was useless when trying for a quick shot on a deer or hog. (But I sure could have used one on the 125 yard shot that I was trying in the early morning rain that October day.)
I carried my Ruger .44 on my hip (yeah... Cowboy Style!) when hunting and sometimes went into those little country stores with it still on - I just forgot to take it off and put it in the trunk. After all, we were there only long enough for gas, a soda pop and maybe a snack. But, back then, nobody thought anything about it. If you were silly enough to forget and leave it on, the owner (or the guy behind the counter) always knew that you were a hunter because of your dress, demeanor and, usually, you were with a bunch of other bad-smelling guys in boots, heavy jackets and hats. Usually you had some International-Orange (a very loud paint color) splashed on you somewhere that told everyone that you were a hunter.
Bottom line: Most country guys, who could afford it, had two shotguns; one long-barrel 12 gauge, modified or full choke, for duck, geese, pheasant and deer and a short-barrel 16 or 20 gauge, modified or open choke, for dove and quail. We really liked the double barrel side-by-side shotguns; some had the far more expensive over/under shotguns but most shotguns were either semi-automatic or pump shotguns that held anywhere from three rounds. OK, some guys removed the wooden "plug" and it would hold up to five rounds when deer hunting or the game warden was not around.
In addition, we usually had a few rifles: A .22 LR for rabbit and squirrels, a 30-06 or a .308 (7.62mm) for deer and larger game. Some had other calibers such as the .223 (5.56mm) military-style with a short barrel and scope - but those were mostly "weekend hunters" who like to look fancy and they needed lots of shots to bring down the big-game. Most of us had the sniper motto inscribed on our trucks; "One Shot, One Kill". If you hit that at which you are aiming the first time, you don't need a second shot and waste a lot of ammo. Not only that, the first shot alarms the game and they take off running. It is far easier to hit a standing deer (or squirrel or rabbit) that it is to hit a running deer when they are bounding through the woods.
Then came the dark days of "Gun Control". It had always been illegal to carry a concealed weapon unless you were a peace officer (policeman, sheriff, highway patrol, constable, etc) or unless you had an extremely rare license that was issued to people such a diamond salesmen, politicians in high-profile positions, judges, etc. But now the gun nuts (yeah, gun nuts back then) got some legislation passed that would allow you to carry a concealed weapon IF you went to two eight-hour classes on gun law, gun practice, gun safety, passed about five or six controlled shot groups on the shooting range that went from 3 to 7 to 15 yards shooting both slow-fire and rapid-fire. All with your own gun, not something new to you. And you had to score fairly high (about 75% of the shots had to be in the so-called "kill zone") in order to pass the class.
And the teachers are, for the most part, really skilled in guns and teaching. One of mine was a retired Air Police (USAF) cop (APs) and had also retired from the Dallas Police Department (20 years each one). He emphasized that only about 2% of the officers EVER have to discharge their weapon in the line of duty. And, of the ones that actually kill someone in the line of duty, about 90% retire within one year. Some had been know to take their own life in remorse. Bottom line: Is that wallet or car really worth your own life or the life of another human being? Most of the "hot shots" who came into the class with that teenager mentality left with a better sense of what you might be up against if and when you had to actually shoot a person. I do not remember anyone who did not change their opinion of what they might have to do in case of having to use their weapon for self defense. Also, he said that the two times that he had to use his weapon, he fired all six shots at a distance of 20 feet (not yards), reloaded and fired six more. Both of those times he actually hit the guy with the second loading. Meaning that when the other guy is firing back you cannot hit the target like you can on the range. And this guy (and others like him) are all excellent shots on the range.
All that to say this: Those of us who have a CHL (Concealed Handgun License) now carry pistols of varying size and caliber. The first thing that you learn is that a .22, .25, .30 or .32 low-velocity (subsonic) are useless for self defense. You need at least a 9mm or .38 with a 115gr slug traveling at 1,000 fps in order to stop a determined attacker. Most guys carry a .357, 10mm, .40 caliber or larger. (No derringers, please!) And a lot of guys (and gals) carry a .45 with a 220/240gr slug that travels at about 900fps. It may not penetrate a vest, but it will knock you down on the ground and leave a huge black-and-blue mark that will stay around for several weeks. He showed us a picture of a couple of guys who had gotten shot while wearing their vest. Not pretty.
Me? I found the perfect carry gun: It is a Belgium-made, Fabrique National (FN) 5.7mm. Without ammo it weighs only 1.5 pounds, about 0.68Kg. And the clip has 20 rounds. (You can get a 30-round clip - but why?) The shell is only 40gr but it travels at 2,000+ fps and can knock you down just like a .45. I figure that I probably won't be using it anyway but it is nice to know that I have the extra shots without having to reload. (I do not carry an extra clip but I have been known to put that extra clip in the glove box when traveling long distances.)
Now, imagine that I am in CA and, sooner or later, someone asks me a question about guns and the conversation usually goes like this:
"Do you have a gun?"
"You have more than one gun?"
"Why do need more than one gun?"
Now, at this point, I can try and educate that person or I can just say, "Different guns are for different things." and walk away. If they will let me. But usually they want to get me into a conversation to prove that I am some kind of gun nut and that they have all the answers. But they are not from a rural setting, they know nothing about guns and probably have never had to have one. But I do think that there are a couple of bumper stickers that says what I need to say:
- "When guns are outlawed, only Outlaws will have guns."
- "There are two kinds of people; those who carry and victims."
So, if you live in LA, NYC, Chicago or some large city that has lots of thugs and criminals and you do not carry (or cannot carry) then the thugs and criminals can carry without a permit (and they will) and you will be the victim. Police cannot be everywhere, every place all the time. We have to protect ourselves, our family, our children and our neighbors as best we can. And we are not all like that nut that killed the kid in the hoodie just because the kid was black and in the "wrong neighborhood." If you live in up-state NY, rural MN, PA, VT or MI, then you probably grew up just like we did down here. Out here, guns are nothing more than farm tools. And we carry a concealed pistol when we go to the big city just to be sure that we get home OK.
And, for some folks, even the police cannot be trusted. What about the guy in Baltimore who was arrested for "running while black." And then given a "rough ride" to the station without a seat belt. Some cops, maybe 1% or less, are not only racist but sadists as well. Some are just sadists and faked their way through the psychological screening to get onto the police force. But, for the most part, our police force is thoroughly professional and our best friend when we are in a jam- just woefully undermanned for the territory which they are assigned to cover.
I read an article the other day in one of the more liberal newspapers about gun control in Switzerland. They don't have any. Every man and woman, at the age of 21, is expected to serve a tour of duty in the military. Upon discharge, each one is issued a 7.62mm fully-automatic or semi-automatic NATO rifle and 1,000 rounds of ammo to keep at home. They then have to show up once every month for one day to qualify to show that they can still hit a target at 100 meters (or 200 meters). Some, a few specialists, have to qualify with a pistol at 25 and 50 meters as well. And if you see someone on the street in civilian clothes with a rifle (or pistol) you know that it is OK and they are either headed to the shooting range or out hunting somewhere in that beautiful country. For this reason (and a few others) Switzerland had never been invaded. (Indeed, it has been said that Switzerland is the retirement home for the original Knights Templar from the days of the Christian Crusades. You do NOT want to mess around with those guys!)
OK, enough for one day. Maybe later I will add to this. Please feel free to comment (respectfully and without "bad" language) and I will respond when I get some time.