A Liberal Gun Owner’s View, From 50 Years of Shooting

Something today triggered some reflections of my, and society’s gun use through the last seven decades. This will be an opinion piece, not my normal writing laced with statistics and a collection of links to “prove” my points. It is just my opinion from observation and participation.

I was in my gun safe today, not for anything firearms related but to stow the mighty Pentax 6X7 camera. To get its case to fit I had to move one gun, a Mossberg Model 46a 22 rifle that my dad bought back in the mid 1930s for $14.00. It was the gun that I used to learn to shoot – when I was five, shooting rats at the garbage dump on Pine Mountain in Harlan County, Kentucky.

I bring that up because I started shooting during the Eisenhower administration, 1960, about twenty years longer ago than the median age of Americans [35.3]. And I bring it up to point out just how much gun ownership has changed since. Also, I don’t mean to imply that, because of my history of shooting since I was five that I am an awesome shot and the end all of gun knowledge. I most certainly am not.

When my father took me to Pine Mountain to shoot, it was a Sunday, after lunch tradition…with several of my new found kindergarten friends and me, along with our dads, well, we were along with them. At the time there was not pro football, NASCAR or baseball on television and it was one of the few “things” that dads and their sons could do together [scrubbing the coal dust deposited by passing coal trains from the side of the house with Spic ‘n Span was the less fun choice].

Eight or so years later my shooting had moved to the Boy Scout camps…Camp Blanton in Harlan and Camp Pellissippi outside Knoxville where my uncle – Coach Charlie “Big Man” Davis was camp director. And it had taken on a more adult “training”, both for safety and because our scout leaders and fathers saw a looming Viet Nam in many of our futures. So we learned military M1 rifles, M14 and later M16 assault rifles, compliments of the Kentucky and Tennessee National Guards and their fine instructors.

The men who taught us were men forged by war, having fought at Normandy, at Anzio, Okinawa, the Battle of the Bulge and the younger guys…Chosan in Korea. They knew firearms and had used them in anger. And in talking with many of them…they were different than today’s gun owner. They didn’t have 10, 20, 50 guns. They didn’t talk about their guns; they didn’t define their lives with the possession of their guns. A gun was a tool, albeit a very violent tool and they taught respect for the gun and to always be responsible in actions and decisions. I was taught that you never pull a gun unless you intend to shoot and never shoot unless you intend to kill. That philosophy was driven into me by my father, not to insure that I shot quick but to the contrary, that any decision to kill should be extremely deliberate and well thought out and not an act of bravado or impulse.

After Scout Camp shooting there was the Harlan County Sportsmen’s League…the only real range in Harlan County. And it required membership…thank you Arvetta Middleton. With membership came a membership card to the Sportsmen’s League and another to the NRA.

The point…there were not “gun rights defenders”, even from the pages of American Rifleman, the NRA magazine for members. And the NRA, through its magazine supported the Gun Control Act of 1968, much as they had supported the National Firearms Act of 1934. “The National Rifle Association has been in support of workable, enforceable gun control legislation since its very inception in 1871.” – NRA VP Franklin Orth, March, 1968.

We were taught that we had a Constitutional right to have guns…it was always taught that the right was for our personal protection and as a skill and discipline, because we had, in our history protected ourselves from foreign government. It was never… NEVER… N.E.V.E.R. taught that it was to fight our own perceived tyrannical government. Maybe they had too much faith in the American voter, that we would always use the ballot box to change that which we did not approve. And they certainly never suggested it was for overthrowing a duly elected government, just because the losing side didn’t like what the winning side was doing.

But that is where we are now…the fringe gun owner wagging the dog for all gun owners. While I promised no statistics…here are just a couple. There are 313 million Americans, 60-80 million gun owners and just 4.5 million members of the NRA and the many gun fora. The wagging is coming from just SIX percent of gun owners, from ONE POINT FOUR percent of Americans.

So when folks argue that “you aren’t a gun owner if you support regulations” or “you aren’t a real gun owner if you vote to let tyrants take our guns”…you are arguing from a distinct minority, both a minority of Americans and a minority of gun owners. And that doesn’t even address that you are arguing that a contemporary interpretation of the Second Amendment is more important than life and general welfare.

I was taught by those who supported reason, those who supported rational solutions for problems of society. I was taught by those who represented the majority view of gun owners…and I still believe that majority holds.  So when you ask…”how can I support regulations”…I have to answer that is what every generation of gun owner has done in the past, supported regulations to make society safer, and in an indirect fashion show gun owners as responsible, well thought of citizens…not the intransigent gun crazies that now “speak” for other gun owners, without our permission.


McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.


25 responses to “A Liberal Gun Owner’s View, From 50 Years of Shooting

  • John

    I was taught by the very same sort-US Army Col-Retired. And as with you, everyone I have ever spoken to, who carried and used a weapon in “anger” just about never wanted to use on ever again. At the very least, not a type that they used in war.

  • Andrew

    Thank You! Thank You!

    I am a former Army Officer and gun owner who is highly concerned about the civilian “gun culture”. There are so many children shooting other children, and apparently gun owners leaving their rifles or side arms not in a safe and loaded.

    They have not learned the proper handling of weapons or the thought that needs to go into being a safe gun owner, or are lacking the discipline needed to own weapons safely.

    They threaten the rights of responsible gun owners through their actions and threaten everyone around them with “loose firepower”.

  • Somone awake

    Perhaps the reason that you fail to see a problem with the Federal Government being tyrannical is that during your upbringing the thought was absurd. Today we have the Dept of Homeland Security wanting to order 1.1 billion rounds of hollow point ammunition. That’s billion, not million and bear in mind that hollow point ammunition is banned for use in war. We also have a US Senator from California who if she could get the votes would make “Mr. and Mrs. America turn them all in” to the Federal Government. Back in 1960 it was unthinkable for a US President to state “I don’t think people should be allowed to own guns.” As for the 2nd Amendment and using an armed populous to insure that a tyrannical Government could never take over, I refer you to educate yourself add read the Federalist Papers.The founders of our country had just fought a war for Independence against an unjust Government that did try to confiscate their arms, It is quite clear, if you read much of their writing, Federalist Papers, that the 2nd amendment was put in place precisely for that purpose. You and many other people need to stop waxing about the good old days and wake up to what is going on in our current society and in our Government, We no longer live under the Constitutional Republic that Franklin and his peers founded. We live in a Fascist society where the power of the corporations is used to buy our politicians and steer our country and economy to benefit the corporations rather than the citizens.

  • mcallisterbryant

    Know how I know you aren’t paying attention? That 1.1Billion rounds [over five years] is standard purchasing for an organization that has over 20 agencies and FLETC [the federal training center for all agents, not just DHS].

    Once you do the actual math on the number of agents, from Coast Guard to TSA to FEMA to ICE and Customs and Border Patrol to Secret Service + FLETC it comes out to about 500 rounds per sworn agent per year.

    How many rounds would you do for training and qualifications annually?

    Also note, you quote one California Senator’s opinion and then move to the observation…”Back in 1960 it was unthinkable for a US President to state “I don’t think people should be allowed to own guns.”.

    No US president has said that, and none will…PUT SIMPLY, nobody is coming to get our guns. That paranoid fantasy is only in the head of SOME gun owners…not all of us.

  • Somone awake

    1.1 billion rounds of hollow point ammunition. Not 1.1 billion rounds of Full Metal Jacket target rounds. The only thing hollow point ammunition is used for is to shoot people, Why does DHS need this much hollow point ammunition? Wake up.. This is not target ammunition, no officer ever uses 500 rounds of hollow points in a given year. Many retire from service having never fired their weapons at another human being.

    President Obama has been quoted as saying “I don’t think people should be allowed to own guns.” He is a staunch gun control advocate. Not the supporter of the 2nd amendment that he claimed to be when he ran for election.


    Given the NY Safe act and other gun control that has passed this year you lose all credibility when you make statements like “PUT SIMPLY, nobody is coming to get our guns. That paranoid fantasy is only in the head of SOME gun owners…not all of us.” When you have US Senators telling you that the intend to ban all “Assault Weapons” and :Large Capacity Magazines” It is not at all paranoid to think that you will non longer be able to buy or sell these guns if the legislation is passed. The only gun owners who think gun control is a good idea are the ones that only own guns not threatened by these bans.

    • mcallisterbryant

      So, to get this straight, of the thousands of hours of recorded speeches and campaign stops and video and audio and written word by Obama, the ONLY source for him saying that people should not own guns is an alleged off the cuff remark by a guy who just happens to make much of his living being pro-gun.

      Damned convenient, that.

      As for the ammo, you really need to look at the DHS solicitation for bids. Not all the rounds are JHP, though some are as would be expected.

      I tend to not get caught up in Alex Jones/Glenn Beck conspiracies. They historically are dripping in error and obfuscation. This one is no different.

  • mcallisterbryant

    Here is the explanation from DHS regarding the purchase over the next five years. And funny thing, their math adds up.

    “Federal solicitations to buy the bullets are known as “strategic sourcing contracts,” which help the government get a low price for a big purchase, says Peggy Dixon, spokeswoman for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Ga . The training center and others like it run by the Homeland Security Department use as many as 15 million rounds every year, mostly on shooting ranges and in training exercises.

    Dixon said one of the contracts would allow Homeland Security to buy up to 750 million rounds of ammunition over the next five years for its training facilities. The rounds are used for basic and advanced law enforcement training for federal law enforcement agencies under the department’s umbrella. The facilities also offer firearms training to tens of thousands of federal law enforcement officers. More than 90 federal agencies and 70,000 agents and officers used the department’s training center last year.

    The rest of the 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition would be purchased by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal government’s second largest criminal investigative agency.

    ICE’s ammunition requests in the last year included:

    _450 million rounds of .40-caliber duty ammunition

    _40 million rounds of rifle ammunition a year for as many as five years, for a total bullet-buy of 200 million rounds

    _176,000 rifle rounds on a separate contract

    _25,000 blank rounds”

  • Rob

    Right. And after close to a hundred years of passing gun regulations to make society safer, the results are in. They failed. Miserably. The violence got worse and worse the more regulations that were passed, only to fall again once those regulations began to be lifted. Government is NEVER a solution to any problem. Ever. The Second Amendment has safety for society built into it, a stroke of brilliance from the Founders who wrote it. Letting it work works. Interfere with it, and…..well. You get Chicago.

  • brenton adams

    Guns weren’t political back then, they are now. That’s the difference. The left has taken a civil right and turned into a wedge issue and is out to win at all costs. Even over meaningless rubbish like ‘universal background checks’

    Speaking for just about every gun owner/hunter/collector I know, we are done compromising.

    • mcallisterbryant

      Please explain the irrational logic that politics of guns affect the crime rates in the nation.

      Just remember, you don’t speak for all gun owners. As for “done compromising”…that philosophy will do more damage to gun owners’ rights than just about anything. Intransigence is what has made the NRA a laughing stock.

      • SanPedroShooter

        Which is why the democratic senate voted down any ‘gun control’ laws. Who’s laughing now?

        The NRA may be many things, even things I may not always agree with, but they are the last bulwark against the continued slide down the slippery slope.

        I will also point out that you live in a free state. I live in LA, CA. So I know how this particular movie goes. Be careful what you wish for, you may get it.

      • mcallisterbryant

        Naw, the NRA is a lobbying organization for the gun manufacturers. You don’t think that membership dues pays for $29,000,000 in lobbying now do you?

        FYI, I live in Kentucky now [which has a higher murder rate by guns than New York] but I have lived in both LA and NYC.

  • Bill

    I thought McAllister was a member of the NRA, or at least had a working knowledge of the lobbying industry. NRA dues do not, and can not go to BNRA lobbying efforsts. Even a minimal effort at examining facts would reveal what the ILA is. Just a wall of text I read, except “I learned guns from veterans, so I know what I am talking about and I don’t want you to own the guns I learned on.” Apparently, nothing has sunk into the skull of McAllister, and all of their efforts to teach him were in vain.

    • mcallisterbryant

      If you had actually READ what I have written, you will find that I never once said that we should ban any type of gun…In fact, I pointed out that I thought the AWB was a bad idea.

      So, good to see your reading comprehension is up to speed. Awesome assumption.

      As for you suggesting that the NRA not being a lobbying group…here is how I know you don’t know what you are talking about.

      NRA Lobbying 2012 $2,980,000
      NRA Lobbying 2011 $2,905,000
      NRA Outside spending [elections, donations, PACs] 2012: $19,767,043
      NRA/ILA 2012: $7,448,189
      NRA PAC 2012: $11,159,167

      Sources: FEC, US Senate, US House LDA

  • Eric

    The only people laughing at the NRA is the left, sir. The right and the middle tend to agree with the NRA. As for the NRA being a lobbying group, what do you expect? There are anti gun nuts out there donating millions to to their lobby groups. We need the NRA to get in there and fight for our rights!

    • mcallisterbryant

      Please enlighten us at to who is donating “millions” to the gun violence lobby groups.

      The internet will provide you with plenty of resources to prove your point if it exists.

    • mcallisterbryant

      As for the middle and right of the spectrum agreeing with the NRA…you might want to check out the NRA’s own polling data regarding background checks.

  • scott

    “debating” with Mr. Bryant is like wrestling with a pig.

    When you wrestle with a pig you only get dirty and the pig likes it.

    not that I’m calling Mr. Bryant a pig, but the analogy is apt.

    of course this post won’t be allowed.

    funny Bryant, you deleted all of my comment thread here from a couple months ago. wonder why that was?

    you may not be a pig, but you are a joke.

    • mcallisterbryant

      Sad that you prefer to debate with rhetoric rather than facts. And you choose to name call. Why is that?

      As for previous comments…I don’t delete anything, ever. I am more than willing to allow your uninformed opinion stand…it just goes to further proving my point.

    • mcallisterbryant

      But it is good to see that I made an impression and you felt the need to come back.

  • scott

    I assume only you could delete comments here, and since our entire exchange from a few months ago is gone, either you don’t control your site, or you deleted them.

    I suspect the latter, and I call you a liar, unless you can prove otherwise. The comment history has to be there along with the record of when it was deleted.

    Either get you web host to prove that you did not delete the exchange or admit to being a liar.

    ps: I only “came back” because the site notifies me there are comments on this thread – because I left comments here, that are NOW GONE.

    also, if I “came back” it is because I was here before (like the other deluded individuals who think they’ll find a “pro-gun liberal – but won’t). and yes, I WAS HERE BEFORE BECAUSE I LEFT COMMENTS that are now gone.

    please turn off the comment notification – I won’t be back no matter what comments are left by you or others.

    I’m done wrestling with the pig.

  • mcallisterbryant

    Yet you keep coming back.

    As for deleting comments…I don’t, and have not…I am guessing you confuse which of 100 articles on which you commented. It makes no mind to me.

    As for “I call you a liar, unless you can prove otherwise.”…I hate to break the news to you but you are not special enough for me to “prove” anything.

    You don’t wish to contribute to the conversation, only bitch and bicker and name call…If you are excited about a permanent archive of that, please find another sandbox…

    If you want to enter into an honest debate, that too is your decision…but after reading your comments on another thread…I doubt you are up to honest debate.

    FYI, I have not, in the past deleted comments…in the future, however any comments that are not directed specifically to the subject will be deleted…I have no time for your childish outbursts.

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