Big man with a gun.

I went to The Gun Store today with Andi and her friends from California so that I could price and check out some guns.

Let me be clear on this: I don’t actually like guns. I’m a constitutionalist, so I believe the Second Amendment is just as important to protect and enforce as the First…but I personally don’t like the idea of owning a gun.

However, it might be necessary in Iraq. Who knows? It might not. But I figured I’d go down and see what my options were, anyway.

Gun stores are also problematic for me. I love them because I’m a gadget geek, and they’re always full of awesome gadgets: holsters, batons, body armor, cool little tools for doing obscure things with guns, tasers, and knives. Lots of knives.

But a lot of the people who tend to hang out in gun stores are people with whom I don’t have a lot in common. Different cultures, different politics. I fall pretty solidly on the “liberal” side of things, and in my experience, this is not true of gun store rats.

The store was absolutely packed today, which was fairly surprising, with people of widely varying age, sex, race, and taste in clothes. They were mostly clustered around the pistol counter, looking at various automatics. I browsed a bit, inspecting the pink body armor (for girls!) and tasers until a spot came up.

The gentleman behind the counter reminded me of my great-grandfather, if my great-grandfather had been dressed in black and carrying a pistol on his belt. I told him my situation, told him I didn’t know much about guns but that I’d heard that Colt 1911s were excellent. He agreed and showed me one.

“I’ve lived in the desert a long time,” he said, “and this is not the gun I’d take to Iraq.”

“Really?” I said. He nodded.

“The 1911 is an excellent gun, but it’s not made for the kind of environment you’ll be in over there. It’s got a lot of fine parts. I’ll sell you one if it’s what you really want, but I don’t recommend it. Let me show you the one I’d recommend,” he said, putting the 1911 back in its case.

He walked down to the end of the automatic counter, where it joined the revolver counter in an L-shape, and produced a small, blocky, two-toned pistol.

“This is a Glock 12,” he told me. “It’s much better for harsh environments than the 1911. The 1911 has 124 moving parts, but this only has 34. No external safety, you see. And it uses 9-millimeter ammo rather then .45 caliber. That’s what everybody in the world uses, so you’d have much less trouble getting ammo over there.”

He put it in my hand. It felt solid. It always surprises me that the weight of a gun doesn’t surprise me or feel weird. It weighed exactly what I expected it to weigh — maybe a pound, pound and a half.

“Is it hard to clean?” I asked. He shook his head. “Easiest gun in the world to clean.” He did something with buttons on the gun and the slide popped off. I he showed me the spring and the clip and the receiver and how they were cleaned and how to put them back together again afterwards.

I don’t know if I want to buy a gun, or if I can actually carry one over there, though I’ve been told I can. If I do buy one, it’ll stay in a safety deposit box until I walk out the door to get on the plane.

But it’s useful to know what the best tool for the job would be.

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  1. I grew up with and have experience with many different guns, including the 1911 and Glocks in a variety of calibers — everything he told you is accurate. If the 12 felt right in your hand, then it is probably ideal. Just make sure if you do buy it, you spend every free moment you can practicing.

    Good luck.

  2. Silly question: how do ever manage to bring a gun on a plane?

    Sure, theoretically, bringing an unloaded gun in your checked-in luggage should not be an issue… But then again, neither should be bringing a tiny jar of homemade strawberry jam (and yet)…

    Do they have a specific boarding process for this type of trip to this type of country?

    Just curious.

  3. Actually, bringing a gun on a plane is straightforward. You don’t bring it carry-on, obviously — you unload it, put it in a locked case, and tell them when you arrive. They give you paperwork, you fill it out, and that’s it. Apparently it’s not a terribly big deal, though God only knows what happens on the other end for international flights.

  4. I believe you mean semi-automatic, not automatic (unless Vegas’s gun laws are as liberal as their prostitution laws).

    Also, did you ever read my article on alternative gun culture?

    I’m don’t like guns either (they give me the willies), but having grew up with them and own one because a friend gave it to me for Christmas in ’05 (after Hurricane Katrina). I also managed to fall in with a buncha Portlanders who happen to love guns. I seem to be incapable of staying away from them.

  5. I have to disagree with your gun dealer man. First there is no such thing as a Glock 12, they start at 17. I think the guy was trying to get more money out of you. Glocks are nothing but expensive for what you can get. He was only right about the caliber. I wouldn’t recomend a 1911 because the good ones have a lot of rounds through them already and you can’t get ammo for them anywhere outside of the USA. A better choice would be a Berreta 92 or the Taurus copy. What’s good about this gun is that it is issued by our own government. If you need repairs of the weapon, you can probably ask your local army contact for parts and equipment (Glocks come from Austria and it would be an involved process to get spare parts in Iraq or Afganistan when there are perfectly good parts brought in by our government there already), plus the 92 is battle proven in those conditions, less expensive (at least here in Colorado and up in Wyoming) and extremely rugged. To pass the test to get adopted by the US army, they had to fire over 500000 rounds through at least 5 of them, Baretta succeeded and Glock did not. Just my opinon, but there it is. From a known gun nut friend of yours. Take it or leave it.

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