Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Zen of Shooting Sports


Today Kev and I went target shooting at the range. I haven't done that in years. Mostly because recoil plus herniated discs plus arthritis equals pain. I finally got a .22 that I can shoot without really hurting myself, though holding the unaccustomed weight out at arms extension made me pretty sore. Thankfully, there's almost no recoil and I can now practice a sport I really enjoy.

I started out in the shooting sports with archery, won a varsity letter in college and came in third (as a 3 person team) in the New York State Empire Games. I was really good, and I almost got to go to Olympic trials. My dad would not allow me to fly, so I didn't get to go. What I loved about archery was the zen-ness of it. My head is usually way too busy and chaotic, and while I have tried meditation, I have never succeeded in shutting off my internal monologue that way. But with archery, I found myself concentrating really intently on hitting the target, almost thinking the arrow into the bullseye. It was relaxing and fun.

My husband (high school sweet heart) and I started dating again after I finished law school. He was also a college archery geek, and since leaving school, he got into pistol shooting competitively. There is a really fun sport called pin shooting where you try to shoot a bunch of bowling pins off a table in the fastest time. He won a bunch of trophies at it, and he talked me into going to the range with him.

I found that pistol shooting has the same meditative quality as archery, once you get used to the noise and can tune it out. (It's loud even with hearing protection...) But after my accident, the recoil just hurt too much, and I pretty much gave it up. My husband had fairly large caliber guns (which is what you need to move the mass of a bowling pin off a table), and those tend to kick pretty hard. For years I wanted a Smith & Wesson Model 41, which is a .22 caliber competition class pistol. It shoots teeny bullets and has very little recoil, but it is a very expensive indulgence that we never seemed to have the money for. Governor Cuomo's new (unconstitutional and hopefully soon-to-be-overturned) laws here in New York which outlaw purchasing 10 round magazines after April 15th made it likely I would never get to own one, because they are a rare gun and backordered 2 years from the manufacturer, and come with a standard 10 round magazine. But we finally had the funds, and a stroke of insane luck found me a second hand pistol that had only had ten rounds fired through it. My amended pistol permit came through Thursday, and I picked it up from our local FFL dealer after passing the required NICS background check.

Today I finally got to try it out for the first time. That target above is the first time I've shot in 19 years, and while it is not the best I ever shot, I am not unhappy about how I did. Hopefully I will get good enough to shoot competitively. I'm going to give it a shot!

New York State law prohibits kids from shooting or being present on a firing range till they are 12. Mikro has already been taught gun safety, and it is something that we discuss on an ongoing basis. My guns live in gun safes. I am hoping to get a (disability-friendly) very light pull bow some day so I can teach the boy archery. Once he demonstrates the skill and seriousness that requires, and is old enough, Kev and I will teach him to shoot. I realize my hobby is not politically correct, but marksmanship is a sport, and an enjoyable one that families can share. My guns have never hurt anything but paper, and I intend to keep it that way. Though knowing they are available for self defense and defense of my family also gives me peace of mind, I sincerely hope I never have to use them for that purpose.

Hopefully this gives people a little insight into the average legal gun owner.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Meet Esmerelda

Today the Coyne clan added a new member. Meet sweet Esmerelda, a 3-4 month old Bearded Dragon. She has a brand new habitat to herself, though we hope when she is fully grown, she and sister Amicus will be able to be tank mates... That will depend on their personalities, though. Amicus is a pretty laid back lizard, and Esme is a sweetie. But whether either might be territorial is something we won't test while the size differential exists. Amicus is full grown, and Esme is tiny. So it'll be a while... Strangely enough, both lizards have one Y shaped marking on their otherwise striped tails.

Here's Ms. Esme:



Can you tell Mikro is thrilled?


Here's big ole Ami:


And this gives a hint of the size difference, though Esme is closer to the camera and appears somewhat larger than she really is... Esme fits in my hand, while Amicus is as long as my arm.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Albany Gun Rights Rally

Yesterday, we spent the day at our state capitol in Albany NY, protesting Gov. Cuomo's NY SAFE law, which is gun control legislation that was unconstitutionally crammed down the throats of law abiding citizens in the dead of night, without time for public comment or even for the legislators who voted for this garbage to *read* the bill they passed. (Most of the provisions of the new law do not go into effect for months or, in some cases, a year. Where then was the exigency necessitating the Governor's use of a Message of Necessity to bypass the normal legislative process? Obviously, there was none.) NY SAFE is rife with errors, including their failure to exempt law enforcement from the strictures they placed on ordinary citizens. We want it repealed, because it seriously hampers self defense and amounts to a ban on the sale of almost every modern firearm in NY State. The 7 round magazine limit basically makes 90 percent of the handguns manufactured after 1911 unavailable for purchase after April 15th. Manufacturers have stated they are not going to produce 7 round magazines for NYers, because that might encourage the rest of the country to jump on Cuomo's idiot bandwagon.

Since I'm going there, you're gonna get my opinion...

First, whichever side of the gun control debate you fall on, please read the very informative analysis of gun control from a legal perspective recently published in the National Law Journal.

I am a retired lawyer and the Constitution means a lot to me. I swore an oath to support and defend it, and I take that seriously. I believe the NY SAFE act violates it and will be overturned by the courts. Whichever side you are on, the article I linked to is worth reading and considering. There is an old saying in legal circles: "Hard cases make bad law." That is what I see happening today. Emotion and outrage are running roughshod over what should be a logical and reasoned process that aims to do the most good while restricting individual rights as little as possible. Instead, we have hysteria and paranoia from both sides. That will not solve the problem.

NY and CT had some of the strictest gun laws in America, even before the tragedy in Newtown. If the laws already on the books were actually enforced, it would make more difference to safety than passing a slew of new laws that will only affect law abiding citizens who voluntarily comply. Very little was done by the new NY law to address mental health issues or actual criminals. Instead, most measures only affect law abiding gun owners who have already successfully gone through the gauntlet of hoops New York makes us jump in order to own guns.

If we did away with parole for violent offenders and actually required them to serve their entire sentences, and increased the minimum sentences for crimes committed with guns, we might actually make the world a safer place. If we made sure persons adjudged to be dangerous to themselves and others were promptly reported to the NICS database so that they would fail background checks, that would be highly useful. Too many states do not adequately update this information. I do not know how NY's record stands on that score.

Telling a homeowner that they can only defend against potentially multiple assailants in a home invasion context with 7 rounds does not make anyone safer, except criminals. The Georgia mom who put 5 bullets into the guy that chased her and her kids down in an attic crawlspace would have been SOL if he had an accomplice. I do not want to have to potentially fight off someone who is a threat to me and my kid with less than all the bullets my gun will hold.

That said, here are some photos from yesterday's rally. I am trying to teach my kid the value of standing up for what he believes in, and I think it was a homeschool day well spent.





















Finally, this is our State Senator, Greg Ball, speaking at the event:

Although I generally try to keep politics off the blog, I am tired of being demonized and having words put in my mouth. So now you have my position straight from the horse's mouth. I am a legal gun owner. I have had guns for over 20 years, and they have never hurt anything but paper. Gun owners: we look just like everybody else; we are your neighbors; and we care about kids just as much as you do. We differ on the issue of what makes them safer.