Bear Arms or
Bear Arms or Ban Arms? That is the question.
I would never claim to know the answer. However, with all the headlines and debate I do know it is time to look at my options and learn more. Because of the crime rate and the prevalence of concealed weapons in New Mexico, where we love our guns, after all it is “The West”, I headed out to change my mindset. I knew exactly where I was headed, directly to the highly respected, customer oriented, family friendly and knowledgeable guys at Right to Bear Arms on Juan Tabo. Erik, Navy Senior Chief, paramedic/firefighter and gun collector enthusiast started collecting old guns for pleasure in his home. Soon after he started selling to a “few” friends. When he realized he had over 25,000 of invenmtory in his garage, he knew it was time to turn the hobby into a business. Erik, his son John (also a paramedic/firefighter with retail experience and all around good guy) and Erik's girlfriend Rose opened their current location on Juan Tabo and Montgomery in late 2016.
At almost 60 years old I had never touched a gun. I had never touched one because of the way I was raised. My grandfather was a cop. I watched him come home every night and place his huge revolver in it's regular place on the credenza across from the front door. I didn’t think about it much, but I KNEW it was there and I KNEW it was off limits. Guns were for professionals-law enforcement, the military and of course hunting. I was programmed.
I was a little uncomfortable walking in the store but was greeted by such welcoming and endearing gentleman, my fear immediately faded. I knew I was overdue for some schooling and I knew immediately these were the guys to do it! There were rows and rows of guns in cases and rifles of all kinds hanging off the walls. We started slowly. First they wanted to know why I was interested in buying a gun. I told them "for protection" immediately. Are you going to carry it with you?, Erik asked. I said, "I’d like to". They then proceeded to show me the different calibers and styles of guns available. I can’t say I remember much, because immediately amongst a sea of black was a small turquoise 380 22. It had my name all over it.
Of course, I wanted to hold the pretty little lady immediately! But John was adamant about explaining the rules first-- there are many. Number one-a gun IS ALWAYS loaded even if it is not! It is a tool not a toy! Check it and check it again and then maybe one more time to make sure it is unloaded. Always keep it in an inaccessible, secure place in the home. NEVER aim it at ANYONE unless you intend to use it, even if you are certain it is not loaded. Learn how to hold it. Get comfortable with it! Take classes (they offer several). Go to a shooting range on a regular basis. There are places in New Mexico you can shoot more open range under the BLM Bureau of Land Management. You can find it on a map. And finally know the laws!
It didn’t take long to start talking background check. They gave me a paper application, but they do it all electronically now. It’s pretty straight forward: Name, current address, date and place of birth, height, weight, gender, SS#, ethnicity. You must have proof. Then it goes on to ask about any arrest records, any dishonorable discharges from the military, history of mental illness and if you are legally in the US. The rest is about the gun and seller. Once sent off, it will come back "proceed, denied or open". The first two are obvious, the open status is somewhat of a grey area and possibly a dangerous loophole. The problem is the law right now. If there is no answer within 5 days the gun store owner can decide to sell or not to sell to the buyer. Erik and John both feel this law should be changed ASAP. They both (store policy) refuse to sell when in open status, although it is legal to do so and say, "the shooting at the church in SC could have been avoided if this crack was plugged".
John says he has turned away some suspicious people and says, “You can usually sense it and their questions set off red flags immediately."
Now I’m really thinking about going for it. What next? Concealed Carry Weapons Classes mandated by the Dept. of Public Safety. For me it’s gotta be pre-CCW for beginners and start from scratch-How to hold it, load it, clean it. Right to Bear Arms offers both of these classes. The next one is April 21, 2018 at the store-starting at $95-for 15 hours.
The store carries just about everything you would need including ammo, oils, cleaning supplies, holsters, steel targets, tasers and less than lethal sprays.
They calmed my nerves about owning a gun in New Mexico. It really is a way of life here. Erik remembers when he hung his rifle in the back window of his pick-up truck and drove to school every day. You can still do it in the East Mountains, but definitely not in the city.
Right to Bear Arms is, also, a sponsor of a shooting team. Shooting teams? Yes. There are national competitions and sporting events regularly. Hmmm, maybe I will get really good. Ha. Sounds fun!
With the climate the way it is these days, John is a believer, as I am, that the problem is not a gun problem. It’s a mental health problem! We both left it at that.
Erik with his passion for guns wanted to leave me with this thought.
“You cannot change or legislate what evil lies in a man’s heart”.
I get it, I agree and I’m looking forward to my first shot.