Firearm ownership

I wanted to own a firearm enough that it was on my original list of 26.

I was no gun zealot, like many young boys. I didn’t even have much experience with firearms, considering where I grew up. So, the desire to be a firearm owner wasn’t part of a healthy family tradition, nor was it a less healthy, although phase-based, violence obsession.

I suppose I instead understood early that it was important for me to experience and be comfortable with a potentially dangerous, but popular, healthy part of the American tradition.

Today, with a Living Social deal of a one-hour safety training seminar and shooting range practice for three people for $75, I did just that at the Gun Range above Spring Garden Street near 10th Street above the Callowhill neighborhood of Philadelphia.

After a half hour of training, I used a half hour of training time, armed with a small, simple, cheap .22 gauge Ruger handgun, with limited recoil at the request of the person with whom I attended. Good experience, I shot fairly well, am more aware and will want to practice more in the future.

It’s part of my intention of maintaining a basic level of comfort and respect for an outsized American cultural influence.

Back in 2007, through the recent loss of my paternal grandfather, I inherited four .22 caliber rifles. My father donated three of them to neighbors with deeper firearm traditions than our family’s. Still, one will remain with us.

I am happy to think of someday teaching my son about safety and maintenance of a low caliber rifles that I got from my grandfather.

There are a handful of experiences I should have gotten during my childhood growing up in Sussex County, a surprisingly rural part of northwest New Jersey.

Fortunately, growing up where I did, I have no shortage of friends knowledgeable on firearm safety and use. One of them is one of my oldest friends, Jeff Issler, a New Jersey state fire inspector and amateur war historian who comes from a rich tradition of Sussex County native firearm owners.

In December 2007, not long after my grandfather died, Jeff and I took a drive out to Sunset Shooting range in northeast Pennsylvania. I bought a handful of boxes of rounds and asked a million questions. Jeff shared a couple of his own rifles that he brought, including a fine Mossberg model.

More importantly, I got broader instruction in cleaning, something I had long been lacking.

I look forward to a long, safe relationship with these and perhaps other firearms. Left on my list is better knowledge and comfort with handguns. Plenty more expensive. We’ll see.