During those roughly 22 hours of driving I saw a number of Chevy Corvettes, and each time I just cringed.
How can our public leaders allow those cars on the road?
Consider this: The base Corvette can jet from 0-60 in roughly 4.2 seconds and has a top speed of something north of 150 miles per hour. And higher-performance versions are available. All you need is the money to buy one of those things and you can be on the road, terrorizing the general public.
For example, in mid-June, according to an article in the Pasadena Citizen in Texas, a driver of a Corvette lost control of his car, and crashed into a building. His passenger was killed.
How many people do Corvettes kill each year? It’s hard to say, but there are thousands of those cars out there so you know it must be a bunch.
And yet these cars, which are admittedly gorgeous, are legal!
And Corvettes aren’t the only culprits. Every Ferrari is really fast, and therefore extremely dangerous. Many BMWs are fast, and the M versions are just ridiculous. The Mustang GT is another one. And there are all those HEMI-powered cars and trucks out there. It really makes my head spin.
I really can’t believe I was able to drive 1,200 miles over the past four days and not get killed. Even more amazing, in the few instances that I saw the aftermath of accidents (fender benders, fortunately), the vehicles involved were not high-performance sports cars. Usually they were lumbering trucks like mine. Clearly that was an anomaly.
OK, back to reality.
I was not at all surprised when Dan Casey wrote about the recent Virginia law change that says localities can’t set rules that prohibit the discharge of pneumatic guns (aka, air guns) on private property with the owner’s permission and providing that care is taken to prevent the projectile from leaving the property.
Dan came to me last week to ask about sources of air gun information. I figured he might as well get accurate information so I pointed him to Pyramyd Air, where I buy a bunch of my air gun gear and where you can find accurate performance information on hundreds of guns, from popular, affordable models to high-end, expensive specialty guns that only well-heeled enthusiasts would own. I figured Dan would, for his column, focus on one of those rare guns, and that’s what he did, picking out the powerful, .357 caliber, not-even-for-sale-yet, $1,300 Benjamin Rouge, of which so few will be out in public it will be more like a Ferrari than a Corvette.
The change means that I no longer am relegated to practicing my air gun shooting on my 10-meter range in my basement (which probably was illegal under the old law, in which case I am not admitting to shooting my air guns in my basement, but rather bringing it up as a hypothetical situation). Now I can take my pellet trap (a stout wooden box filled with thick HVAC putty that would stop a .22 long rifle bullet, let alone a pellet) into my back yard, put the thing against my brick garage and practice safely and quietly at ranges out to 25 yards.
The worry, apparently, is that now a bunch of renegade air gun shooters are going to go crazy and it’s going to be a pneumatic-powered war zone out there.
Let me be straight about something: I am not a “gun nut,” as the term goes. I’m a gun and shooting enthusiast who believes in reasonable gun laws.
And I can understand why some folks might be wary of this change. Roanoke’s chief of police has been one of them, and that is understandable. Depending on public response to the change, it has the potential to cause more work for his troops. (The key word there being POTENTIAL.) For example, let’s say Nervous Nellie spots her neighbor in his back yard with a gun. She calls 911. An officer (or a bunch) will have to respond. After they find that no laws (or neighbors’ windows) are being broken they will be on their way. But that is time those officers could be doing something else — like enforcing the city ordinance that requires kids to wear bike helmets, the ignorance and ignoring of which will continue to be responsible for putting WAY MORE Roanoke kids in emergency rooms than the air gun law change will.
(Here’s another crazy thought: What if the air gun shooter tells Nervous Nellie what he’s going to be doing before he does it? Then she’ll know that she doesn’t have to call the cops.)
Could kids do stupid things with air guns? Yes. Unsupervised kids do stupid things. Always have. Always will. (The key word there being UNSUPERVISED.)
Air guns, even “kid” guns such as the ubiquitous Daisy Red Ryder, are NOT TOYS. Never have been. Never will be. They should be kept under lock and key just like other guns. Youth under 18 shooting air guns or any guns should always be supervised. ALWAYS. Casey cited CDC statistics on “pneumatic weapon” fatalities, of which there were reportedly 39 from 1900 to 2000. That is tragic. Again, these are NOT TOYS.
I have no issues with a reasonable discussion about this law change. Reasonable discussion is good.
What is not reasonable is to amp up the fear factor over this new law by focusing on the capabilities of an expensive, rare, hunting air gun, as Casey did. If one must focus on the capabilities of adult air guns (and, again, the reason they are called adult air guns is that they are NOT TOYS), why not focus instead on something like the Gamo or Crossman guns that are on shelves at Gander Mountain or Walmart? I promise you a bunch of those are in a bunch of homes (ideally in gun safes) in Roanoke. Here’s why not: They shoot tiny, .177 and .22 pellets at 1,000 feet per second, which is enough to penetrate a tin can but not enough to “drop a 200-pound wild boar at 50 yards,” as Casey wrote. So that’s not SCARY enough.
Casey also brought up the unsolved case of vandals shooting out windows of cars in Roanoke with air guns. The thing is, that was a CRIME committed by CRIMINALS! And even under the new law it will still be a CRIME committed by CRIMINALS. Connecting that crime spree to Regular Joe air gun owners and shooters such as myself is like connecting the above-referenced Corvette crash to regular Joe performance car owners and drivers. It is illogical, unfair and flat out wrong.
Is this law change going to have a bunch of people logging on to Pyramyd.com to order a Benjamin Rouge to shoot in the city? Not only no, but heck no. Will it lead to more air gun crimes like those perpetrated by Roanoke’s car window vandals? Not only no, but heck no.
Will it allow youth shooters to get some additional marksmanship and safe gun handling practice under the watchful eyes of mentors? I sure hope so.