Why I Carry

Teaching Liana to shoot, No. 21, 12 August, 2001

by Paul Hager © 2001

IC Title 35, Article 47, Chapter 2. Regulation of Handguns

Article I, Section 32, Indiana Constitution

Yesterday, Liana (my 9-year-old daughter) got to fire a gun for the first time. This had been in the works for several months. Aside from the logistics involved in finding the right place to shoot, quite a bit of preparatory instruction was required. Some of the training was provided courtesy of the show American Shooter on TNN (check local listings). Champion practical shooter Rod Latham has been conducting an ongoing beginners' course on pistol shooting, which I've been taping and watching with Liana.

Our shooting venue was a home range on property owned by Jim Baughn, the manager of my 2002 Secretary of State campaign. The outing had a crowded agenda: teaching Liana to shoot, sharpening my wife's and my shooting skills with a little practice, socializing with Jim and his wife, and engaging in campaign strategizing with Jim.

On the way to Jim's place, I stopped off at Border's bookstore to order a newly published book entitled The Skeptical Environmentalist, by Bjorn Lomborg. There have been a number of articles about Lomborg in advance of the book's publication in news periodicals, the New York Times, and The Economist. What has undoubtedly generated so much interest is the fact that Lomborg is an ex-Greenpeace member who, in doing the research that produced the book, became a harsh critic of the organization. Heresy, it seems, is newsworthy. What got Lomborg started down the road to heterodoxy was reading the work of the free-market economist Julian Simon. As Lomborg described it, Simon's claims were serious enough to require debunking. The more Lomborg dug, however, the more he discovered that it was his environmental position that was being successfully debunked by Simon. To Lomborg's credit, he abandoned ideology when it was contradicted by hard data. I can appreciate what Lomborg went through - it is analogous to my own experience with gun control.

While I was standing at the information counter to put the book on order, someone came up behind me and asked, "Where'd you get that?" I was momentarily taken aback. As I was attempting to get clarification as to what "that" referred to, I expected he was going to ask me about the Glock. "Your shirt," was his response. I was wearing a t-shirt that has a large marijuana leaf and the phrase "Hemp for Victory" (the title of a World War Two-era Department of Agriculture film exhorting farmers to grow hemp) on the back. "Oh," I said, shifting mental gears. I said that it was a custom shirt made over 10 years ago in connection with the Hoosier Cannabis Re-legalization Coalition (HCRC), which I co-founded. As I said this, I directed his attention to the image of a smiley face behind bars on the front and the caption, "Re-legalize marijuana". If he found it incongruous that a fellow was carrying a .45 caliber Glock while wearing a shirt advocating marijuana re-legalization, he didn't say.

Upon arriving at Jim's, and after the obligatory greetings, we went to his range. He had both a 25 yard and a 100 yard target stand, and I had brought regulation 25 yard pistol targets. For Liana, Jim had a 9-shot .22 caliber revolver. Dry firing the .22 revealed that in double-action mode, the trigger pull was too much for Liana to handle. I don't recall that being an issue for me at age 8 but I may have had stronger hands. In any case, the solution was to cock the hammer and fire single action. Liana initially didn't have the hang of what constituted a good sight picture, so at the 8 to 10 yards we were standing, she wasn't even hitting the paper. After adjusting she put several rounds in the 7 ring and got one in the 9 ring. I thought it was a very good showing for the first time she shot. Her biggest problem was that she kept leaning backwards, which I had to correct a number of times.

Though carrying my Glock, I elected to only shoot the Makarov. Part of the reason was that I hadn't fired the Makarov for some time, and I had quite a lot of 9x18 ammo to expend. I also wasn't particularly keen to clean 3 guns when I got home (my two and my wife's 9mm Glock).

Liana wanted to try the Makarov, so I took her down to the 10 yard point, cocked it, and gave it to her. I'd drilled her on semi-autos so she knew what to expect. She fired three shots and declared it an interesting experience.

Since Liana had fun with this, I hope to reinforce the positive experience with at least a couple of more outings this year. One complexity is that my weekends are starting to fill up with political activities involving either my carry campaign or the Secretary of State run - 3 are already scheduled in September. One of these is the Gun Rights Policy Conference, sponsored by the Second Amendment Foundation, which will run from 21 to 23 September. Expect a full report on it.