Commentary: Not apologizing for latest purchase

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It occurred to me that perhaps I should apologize for buying a handgun - a Ruger single action .22 caliber revolver - because I think of myself more of a tree-hugging liberal than a defender of the National Rifle Association.

But why should I apologize? This is Nevada. What's more, I am almost a native Nevadan, having lived here since 1974. It's about time I had a gun.

I remember the adorable little Derringer the Ormsby House logo used to have - the one with a red rose sticking out of the barrel. I should have known then I had a weakness for guns.

To be honest, I had no idea what kind of gun would be "right" for me. So, when it came down to it, I simply followed my experienced friend and coauthor Hunt's advice on everything, including care and handling of the weapon.

In no time at all, one sunny October weekend, there we were, out at the Flint Drive pistol shooting range. I kneeled behind the shooting bench, steadying my Ruger on a pistol rest as I plinked away, at relatively close range, at targets stapled to a cardboard box.

It was early morning, so there were only a few pistol shooters on the firing line. I followed the directions Hunt gave me, e.g., "Line up the sights. Squeeze the trigger. That shot was a little high. Try hitting that tin can behind the target. Now see if you can hit that pink, twisted piece of scrap iron 25 yards away."

All the people we met were courteous and friendly: A former Coast Guard officer who was firing a snub-nose Smith & Wesson .38 Special and who took us to his car to see some of his other handguns; a U.S. Army soldier teaching his young son how to shoot a .22 rifle; a wife who had been through a self-defense shooting program and was an excellent shot with her Kimber .45 semiautomatic pistol.

It was very much a family affair. Everyone was careful to signal when shooting stopped and when it commenced, for this is a "no-attendant" range.

The next day I "graduated" to shooting off-hand: Standing up, my arms outstretched, the left hand supporting the right. Then, shooting with my right hand only. Then kneeling at the firing bench, my left hand supporting the right. I liked the process of carefully aiming at the target and trying to keep my arm as steady as possible. When the can and the pink piece were hit by my bullets, they twitched, jumped and spun in the dust.

Hunt gave me high marks for never flinching - not once - when firing.

• Ursula Carlson, Ph.D., teaches writing and literature at Western Nevada College.


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