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Steve Lunetta: Gun-happy

Posted: June 7, 2009 9:32 p.m.
Updated: June 8, 2009 4:55 a.m.

I bought a gun. It's just a little .22 caliber rifle to teach the kids how to shoot.

When it came, there was a National Rifle Association sign-up form in the box. I chuckled at the thought of me being a card-carrying NRA member.

Our new squirrel gun sits next to Grandpa's old 12-gauge, double-barreled, side-by-side shotgun that I inherited several years ago.

The shotgun is from the 1890s and has the words "King Nitro" inscribed on the side. It's really a piece of junk - the stock would fall off if it weren't for the piece of string tied neatly around the barrel.

Grandpa notched the stock so that the string would sit in the notch and not bother his hand while shooting.

The shotgun is truly a family heirloom. Grandma tried to kill Grandpa with it one time. Fortunately for Grandpa, her daughters were a bit stronger than she was and managed to wrestle it away from her.

Now I know where my insanity comes from. Anyway, back to my new rifle.

The ".22" I bought is actually considered a small-bore rifle. Gun sizes or "calibers" actually refer to the inside diameter of the gun barrel. "Caliber" is interchangeable with the word "inch." So, a 0.22 caliber gun fires a bullet that is 0.22" across.

I would think that a gun that fires such a little bullet would not worry the anti-gun folks so much. Boy, was I wrong.

I have never purchased a gun in the state of California. I had been through a gun class recently, so I was aware that there was a 10-day waiting period. I guess that helps stop "crimes of passion" where people rashly go out and buy a gun to do someone in.

I'm really glad we have that law. Now, instead of guns, all these angry people can use knives, baseball bats, rat poison and any one of myriad other methods to kill someone. That's much more humane.

I had shopped around and knew guns were very hard to find these days.

All the latest moves by the Obama administration have convinced the gun community that guns will soon be very hard to acquire.

This created a huge demand with gun dealers selling out of all the popular models.

Fortunately, I found exactly what I wanted over at our local Big 5 sporting goods store by the mall. It was a bolt-action .22 with a black stock and notch sights.

After checking out the goods, I decided to get it. Little did I know I was going to fall into Gun-Control Hell.

The pimply-faced, 18-year-old employee told me that there were a few formalities to take care of before our transaction was complete.

After fingerprinting me, verifying my driver's license, doing the laser eye retina scan and testing my DNA, he presented me with a small form to fill out.

"Small" is a relative term, of course. The extensive list of questions included queries about my criminal record, my relative mental stability, and whether I was a fugitive from the law.

I dutifully answered the questions knowing that I had responded truthfully, since my parole officer said I was doing much better since the Prozac was kicking in.

The next twist was that pimple-boy had to verbally question me and record the responses.

Resisting the tremendous urge to be a wise-guy (the same urge that nearly got me arrested at the airport when asked if I was carrying a bomb), I passed his interrogation.

I was next informed that a background check had to be performed to ensure that I was the correct type of person to buy the peashooter.

A $25 fee was assessed by the state to the total of the bill to perform this service for me.

It's clear that someone is making money here, and it isn't me.

After half an hour of fun and games, I was allowed to pay for the gun and leave the store- without the gun. I was now in my "waiting period."

This was fine with me because I now had to go find ammunition since a gun without ammo is like a Democrat without union money. Impotent.

After checking several stores including Wal-Mart, I eventually found what I needed online. But even the Internet store was back-ordered with no firm date as to when ammo can ship. Thanks again, Mr. President.

Once my 10 days of purgatory were complete, I returned to Big 5 for my gun.

Another 45 minutes of waiting, signatures, waiting, laser retina scan, waiting and more waiting, I was finally given the opportunity to take my purchase home.

Curious, I asked about the background check. "Oh, I'd better take a look to see if you are on the list. Nope, you're clean," was the pimply-faced response.

After all of that, I could have been a serial killer with a long rap sheet and still defeated all of this legislative mumbo-jumbo bureaucracy intended to keep a gun out of dangerous hands.

Of course, if I were a bad guy, I could have gone to some "friends" who could have procured a weapon on the same day for forty bucks. With no background check.

Does all of this make us safer? Unfortunately, the Legislature and the anti-gun lobby have merely made it more difficult for honest, law-abiding citizens to obtain firearms.

I have never been a "pro-gun" person but this experience has changed my mind.

Let's see - where is that NRA sign-up form?

Steve Lunetta is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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