Things I Have Learned After 24+ Hours In Arizona
2011-09-11, 6:23 p.m.
Things I Have Learned After Spending 24+ Hours In Arizona Proper (Not Grand Canyon, Which I Don't Think Counts For This Exactly....):
Everyone here has a gun. EVERYONE. No, I did not know this fact of Arizona life when my previous time in the state involved driving to the Grand Canyon and then driving out of the state. (Okay, upon telling her this sentence, Jess said "Not EVERYONE has a gun. A lot of people are anti-gun." But read on for why I kind of have this impression anyway.)
For the record: when it comes to gun politics, Jess described me as "Switzerland" (when her son asked me how I felt on the topic.). "Just smile, shake her hand, and eat the chocolate." What that means is that while yeah, I'm a liberal, I don't really feel strongly about "gun control." I say that responsible gun owners should just keep on being responsible about it, and I don't care what you do with your gun as long as you are not randomly shooting it at passerby like you're a BART cop. I am not averse to other folks having guns. I'm not necessarily "woo animal death" or plan on going hunting myself, but hunting is a useful skill and at least some people should keep it up in case of zombie apocalypse. I have hung out on a couple of outdoor gun ranges before while hanging out with Merry and co. (a lot of Burners likey guns, as it turns out). This year her son Sean taught me how to load a gun while camping in the Black Rock Desert for 4th of July when he was bored. So, I am not anti-other folks having guns. On the other hand, the one time someone tried to teach me how to fire a pop gun I was rather hopeless at it, and in general I don't really have a whole lot of aim. I notably don't have any aim while playing pool unless I have drunk at least half a glass of booze. So in general I have been all "whatever" when it comes to guns, "but I have no aim so you probably shouldn't give me one."
Now, I knew Jess had taken up shooting since moving over there, so that wasn't a surprise. Yeah, I figured that the fellows that live with her also shot stuff. I just didn't know how extensive this stuff is here. So yeah, I come to Arizona and it's all "hey, we're taking you to the gun club tomorrow!" Erm, okay. Warned y'all about the aim, but I'm not totally averse to this. And after I got into town we went to Cabela's, which is an awesome outdoor store that makes REI look puny. I've been to the Reno one in 2010 after 4th of Juplaya, but holy crap, the Arizona version is even bigger. Probably a third of the downstairs area is just for guns and bullets and gun sales and the gun library (er, no, you can't check them out, that's just the REALLY expensive guns) there. They've got an upstairs sale area and "home" area and a restaurant area and an aquarium area... Nifty shit. And they have gigantic stuffed animal (er, of the formerly live animal variety) displays in there.
Anyway, we were in there because Mike wanted a gun, which took a couple of hours to get. While we were in there, Julian taught me how to shoot in the kids' shooting gallery area. I got a surprisingly high score at it-- helps with sights to aim through, believe me, even though the gun got a little heave. Oh, and seriously? Look at some of the "Barbie guns for girls!" merchandise in this place. HOLY COW. Julian told me a LOT about guns while we were in there.
Anyhoo, I have now learned stuff like who has a concealed carry permit (pretty much everybody), and if you forbid firearms in your business establishment in Arizona your business will go WAY DOWN, and the reason why everyone has a gun is because of the entire state having drug trafficking... no, it's not just "to be cool," which I was kind of suspecting was the case if you didn't have a lifestyle where people want to kill you on a regular basis.
So the next day we went down to the gun club, where I learned how to shoot a .22 pistol. According to the paper targets, I have better aim than I thought I did with a weapon. I'll have to have Jess mail my target sheets to me because I'm afraid of what happens if I travel with them on a plane (the TSA always "randomly" searches me and my luggage, though at least on the way in I only got a random hand swabbing rather than the cancer machines/personal groping), but they're going on my wall. Woo hoo, I have aim! I also got a shirt from the gun club and saved a few of my shells. Maybe I"ll make 'em into scary jewelry or something. I also got to look at books with titles like "Babes with Bullets," or something like that. And I got a burn from a shell that hit my arm (note to self: next time, wear sleeves to the gun club), so I feel vaguely braggy about this.
While we were there, there was some guy and his 8-year-old or so daughter or granddaughter or something. Little girl in pink clothes with disco light-up shoes...with her own personal pink pistol shooting. Her dad was shooting some big ol' rifle with a huge sight and shells that must have been like 2 inches long that were landing on her from behind and sometimes hitting her in the head when they bounced. One guy in the club asked an employee about this, but apparently they don't care at what age your kid shoots as long as your kid isn't in the gun club accompanied.
Oh, I have also seen:
So, yeah. That's Arizona for ya. Interesting place...
And for those who gripe about hot weather, I still like that.