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Archived Observation

Since Janet was having such a crappy couple of weeks (first being stuck on jury duty and coming back to work just to find out that her hard drive that went south on her the day before jury duty was not recoverable… and that the "computer whiz" at her office still didn't install Windows or MS Office on her system, so she lost another two days after getting back from jury duty just trying to get her system close to where it was over two weeks ago), when I saw a copy of Time Crisis at the EBX store in Embarcadero Four, I decided to grab it for her as a surprise.

Time Crisis is Namco's version of Vitrua Cop or Area 51. You get the light gun, you shoot stuff. Actually, you shoot everything. Now before you get started on your anti-gun kick let me tell you what I think of you anti-gun people.

First off, I am not a card carrying ember of the NRA. Hell, when I was growing up, my mother wouldn't let me have any guns or anything like that. She even had problems with me getting waterguns… and cap guns? Forget it. She didn't even like me pointing my finger like a gun at people. [For historical accuracy, once on a camping trip to Fort Ticonderoga in Upstate New York, my mother bought me a replica of an old flint-lock rifle… but it didn't shoot, not did it make any noise… and she would never let me point it at people or really play with it at all.]

I have to say that the lesson that I learned wasn't one of fear from her. She didn't threaten to punish me if I played with fake guns or anything… what she did do is teach me at a very early age that guns are powerful and dangerous… and you don't ever play with a real gun. She also taught me to never pretend to point a gun (even if it is my finger) at a police officer… which was a very good lesson, because when I was in my early teens, a teenager in Boston was killed by a cop when the kid pointed his Lazer Tag pistol at the cop and screamed "Bang Bang"… this is also the reason that all fake guns sold in the United States have a bright orange tip so a cop can tell the difference immediately.

About two years ago, Janet and I went to the shooting range for the first time. Our boxing instructor Robb asked if we wanted to go shooting, and we thought that it would be a shame if we never fired a handgun at least once in our lives. So we went to Jackson Arms in South San Francisco, rented a 9mm Beretta, took a quick lesson (Robb was also an experienced firearms handler) and stepped into the lanes.

I don't think you'll ever have the proper respect for a handgun until you hold one in your hand, squeeze the first shot off into the paper target and realise that you could put a hole in the person standing next to you just as easily. It is at that exact moment that you realise how dangerous a gun can be to an untrained person.

My opinion? I think that every child should have to take a firearms safety class in middle school and take a weaponry course in gym. Every 9 year old should take a field trip to a gun range and watch the destruction that a rifle or pistol can do on a side of beef or a watermelon. If kids learn at a young age how dangerous handguns can be, instead of just making them a desirable taboo, maybe we can stop little kids killing their neighbors with the pistol that they found in daddy's sock drawer.

That's the other thing. If you want to own a handgun, you should have to pass a written test (which you have to do in all states) to get a learner's permit. Then you should have to go to a range and under supervision take a certain number of hours worth of supervised shooting lessons and then score a certain amount of points on a standardized shooting test. Then you do the psychological screenings and then you can get a gun. Funny, that's exactly what we have to do to get a driver's license, isn't it?

Once you get the gun, if you have children, the law should be: trigger locks, weapon in a locked case, ammo in a separate locked case. This should be checked by the sheriff's department every 6 months to insure that the weapon is stored safely. If you fail inspection, you lose your weapons until your children are 16. End of story.

Oh, and any resident over the age of 16 in a house where one member has a gun… everyone needs to be licensed to use it safely… even if you never intend to use it.

Still, I believe that it's every law abiding citizen's right to own a firearm… it just doesn't need to be easy to get one, that's all.

So yeah, I like shooting games… but I respect guns… and as an adult, I know that there is a difference between my Namco Guncon and the 9mm Beretta that I shot at Jackson Arms. It helps me relax and if it wasn't for shooting games, the two little kids in Mars Attacks wouldn't have been able to save the President's daughter, right?

Oh, and if you haven't ever picked up a gun, don't even talk to me about it. You're a bigger part of the problem than you'll ever know.

Posted in Observations.

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