My History With Handguns


I’ve been shooting for something like 25 years, but I still started late. I never shot anything as a child (though I came close to owning a .410 shotgun at one point, by inheritance). I really got started around 1978, by some friends I’d met through the Minnesota Science Fiction Society (not, in general, a group heavily populated by hunters or shooters at that time).

I found I rather liked shooting, and the tech that went with it. Reloading was interesting, and understanding how guns worked was interesting. It’s a great geeky hobby, even if you don’t get into it very deeply.

I also found that a lot of similar techniques came into shooting and photography (a hobby I’d already had for years). In both, it’s important to hold something steady, pointed in the direction you want, and push a button or pull a lever to tell the device to do whatever it does without disturbing that pointing. Some of the same sling techniques used to steady a rifle in off-hand shooting can be used with cameras. All of the breath-control ideas transfer both directions.

Not so long after that, I bought a Ruger Mk I (.22) and a Ruger Security Six in .357 Magnum. I shot mostly at “The Gunnery”, a range in the basement of the VFW on 36th St. near Hwy. 100 (long gone; moved and changed hands and in some sense the successor is now the Burnsville Pistol Range, my current favorite place to shoot).

I even did a small amount of reloading, and some bullet casting, with a friend who did that.


When I moved to Massachusetts in 1981, I chose to sell my guns to friends rather than worry about the complexities of transporting them. In Massachusetts I did buy a Colt Mk IV Series 70 “Government Model” .45, but I never fired it in Massachusetts. (I had to get a state firearms permit to do so; same form as a permit to carry, and required a photo and fingerprints.)

Back to Minneapolis

I got more involved in shooting after we moved back to Minnesota. I started shooting the Colt a little, and I bought a Glock 17 (9mm) and a Ruger Mk II (.22 rimfire) in stainless. I’m a big fan of stainless; I sweat rather corrosively. I shot these a little more, but never regularly and never competitively.

I discovered that I liked the Glock a lot more than the Colt. I found I was working pretty hard to get back on-target with the Colt after each shot. In hindsight I think perhaps a stronger spring might have helped; at least, I’m happy enough shooting a friend’s 45 Super, which means that level of recoil isn’t completely beyond me. (I also shoot .40 S&W including a Kahr K40, rather a small light one, and .44 Special in a light snubnose.)

In this rather big period, I got involved in introducing Joel Rosenberg and Oleg Volk to firearms. But I wasn’t the first person to take either one out shooting. It’s not my fault, I tell you! Other people were involved! I didn’t know it was dangerous!

Carry Permits

Some time later, Joel got his carry permit for reasons he’s testified to the Senate about, I think, but I can’t find a citation so I’ll skip that for now. Anyway, that made it something I considered real people doing.

I also had noticed Florida embarking on their great shall-issue experiment, the first of the modern round of it. I remember at the time thinking it was a daring experiment, and empowering people to see to their own defense was psychologically very important and good, but I was afraid that in the real world the cost in accidental and collateral damage would be too high. Well, we all know how that came out now — 35 or some such states have shall-issue laws and the cost turns out to be negligible. Civilians with guns are much more careful than I would have expected.

So I got involved with MNCCRN, the main group agitating for carry reform in Minnesota. Not too heavily involved, but I gave them some money, went to some meetings of theirs, wrote to my representatives when they asked me to, attended some hearings, and so forth.

I didn’t go so far as to vote Republican, though. Carry rights are important, but so are a lot of other things. Even without my vote, though, they put in a legislature and a governor who passed the MPPA. I was very excited.

I’d also, at this point, gotten involved more directly. Joel introduced me to Tim Grant and Joe Olson (from the MNCCRN leadership), who were starting AACFI, to provide an instructor certifying organization that would be sure to provide for Minnesota’s needs (at the time AACFI was invented, some years ago, the NRA didn’t even have a “personal defense outside the home” course, let alone any course that covered Minnesota law). AACFI needed a web site, with various rather specialized features (like instructors entering course information, and having that searchable by students), and I got the job of creating it.

In the process, I ended up an AACFI-certified instructor, and qualified to get a permit. So I was there the morning of May 28th 2003, putting in my application (and getting interviewed by three tv stations; I only heard of KSTP running any of the footage though).

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