Dispatches From My iPhone: Automatic Weapons in Vegas

Guns are a difficult topic of discussion. I know people who believe there is no viable reason to own a weapon of any type, let alone an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. I also know people who believe that gun ownership is the only way to ensure that societal government does not crush you beneath its stomping boot. I stand somewhere in the middle, and see the validity of both points. Gun ownership, especially in a city, escalates violence beyond battery into certain death. At the same time, being able to accurately fire a gun may mean the difference between the safety of the people you love in dangerous times; it is a skill to be learned and valued.

After an extraordinary day at the NCTE conference here in Las Vegas, I decided to do the only thing a peace-loving, caring man like myself would do: take a taxi to The Gun Store out on Tropicana and fire a selection of guns that I have only read about in magazines. Why? I am a man of experience, and firing guns in the United States under controlled conditions is an experience that I value.

My adventure began with an hour long wait at The Gun Store. A weird little place, it was packed with international tourists who wanted to see how they would fare with a machine gun or a hand gun on the range. What appealed to me was their ridiculous “Zombie Package” for $160 that included a chance to fire a handgun, a Glock fully-Automatic, an AR-15 and a pump shotgun: all vital weapons should the zombie apocalypse begin.

Starting at the end, and with the most unique experience, the fully automatic Glock was my least favourite of the four guns I fired at the range. It was a weapon designed to fire barely controllable bursts of ammunition in the vicinity of soldiers. While I did fairly well with it against the zombie clown featured above, it is never a weapon I would choose to own or shoot on range. I like control. I prefer less waste. I see little value in this weapon other than it looks kinda hot and would undoubtedly serve a soldier well in heavy situations. I am not a soldier.

The pump action shotgun was a fun surprise. I had always felt that this would be the impossible gun to control, but unlike the Glock, I knew when to brace my stance and as seen from the female zombie target, I was able to score three direct headshots, a chest shot and the bonus brain in the corner – five for five.

My favourite guns were the AR-15 and the XDMg handgun, especially the latter. What I liked about them was the clear control I had over their accuracy, the reasonable recoil, and that they felt solid in my small hands. Perhaps the best feeling of the day was after the instructor had asked me if I had ever shot any of these weapons before and I answered no. When the first AR-15 target was pulled back and he saw how I had only made 10 headshots and 10 chest shots, he was a little taken back. All I could say: well, I did shoot a .22 caliber rifle and a pellet gun when I was 12. Hilarious and priceless.

At the end of the day, it was an exhilarating experience that was a nice balance to the intellectual work I did at the conference. I felt really great when I clearly saw that I was still a crack shot despite not shooting a gun for 26 years. Old dogs still remember old tricks, I guess.




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