I joined the Navy in my senior year in high school, and went off to boot camp the September after I graduated in 1982. I eventually ended up in Newport News, VA aboard a new construction submarine. By the time my first enlistment was coming to an end, I had a bad attitude and high hopes of making “big bucks” as a civilian working at the shipyard there in town. Well, I got that job at the shipyard. This is when I started learning what the real world was all about.
As I mentioned in “My First”, I bought my first handgun on my 21st birthday. I guess I bought it for a number of reasons. For starters, I was old enough to buy one, so I felt like I needed to. (Funny thing is, I didn’t feel like I needed to vote.) I wasn’t thinking about the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution. I’m not sure I was really thinking at all. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t regret buying the gun. It’s just that I had always wanted a Colt Python, so I bought one. Now I know better.
I also thought it would somehow make me invincible. With it, nobody could hurt me. I felt like I had the baddest gun anyone could ever want. All I would have to do is pull it from its nylon Uncle Mike’s holster, and that 4” stainless steel gun would have the bad guy running for the mountains. (Too many movies, I guess.) Now I know better.
Lastly, I thought I’d be able to hunt with it (as a secondary weapon.) It’s a .357 magnum. It can take down a deer. That 125 grain semi-jacketed hollow point will put a hole the size of your fist in an animal. It will drop in its tracks. I didn’t know anything about the ballistics of a .357 or the capabilities of the round. I didn’t know anything about barrel length and velocities. I didn’t know how far off the deer would be up in those Virginia mountains. Now I know better.
In retrospect, I had no business owning a handgun back then. I put no thought at all into purchasing it, selecting the ammunition for it, or into carrying it. I lived in an apartment with neighbors on both sides and above me. There were no brick firewalls between the apartments. I hate to think what the after effects of a negligent or accidental discharge would have been. I never even thought about what the gun laws were in the state of VA. One of my hunting buddies told me I didn’t need a permit in VA as long as the gun was exposed. I never verified this for myself. I never did any kind of research about what the laws said I could or could not do. I never put any thought whatsoever towards how and when I could use that gun to defend myself. Now I know better.