Accidental Rifle or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the AR-15

I went in to Shooters Mart to by some .22 shorts for the kids to shoot through Grandma’s Ruger Single Six. After finding the ammo I inquired about the lever guns they had on hand.

I’d been casually shopping for a good ole lever action rifle for years. I’ve weighed the benefits of 30-30 vs. .357 Magnum. I’ve looked at every permutation in those calibers. I’ve shot Marlins in 30-30 and a 45-70. Every time the lever gun put a smile on my face.

While talking with the proprietor I start asking some questions.

“Should I really get a bolt gun?”

“I want to learn iron sights first, I don’t have much rifle experience.”

“Maybe I should get another .22.”

I think he sensed my avoidance of the AR-15 and said, “you’ve never looked at ARs have you?”

I hadn’t. And I didn’t really have a great reason other than the massive popularity of them. I didn’t think they were evil or anything like that (all guns are dangerous). I just plain didn’t like them. If I were to buy a semi-auto rifle I swore I’d get an AK47 because they looked better and they weren’t as fetishized as the AR-15.

S&W M&P 15, Ruger LCP, CZ 75 D PCR
S&W M&P 15, Ruger LCP, CZ 75 D PCR

He hands me a Smith and Wesson M&P 15 Sport. I start fiddling with it. Work the charging handle. Extend the stock. Look through the sights. This thing feels good. It’s still kind of ugly, like all ARs, but it’s clean. The sides are smooth, the finish is nice.

We start to talk about the good and bad. What features each one has. I try a few different brands out and keep coming back to that M&P Sport. It’s “missing” the forward assist button and the dust cover. I ask why that matters.

I understand the existence of those features, but they are not applicable to me or my use of a rifle. So I ask him, “why are these better.”

The curt response I got was great. “Well, if you’re around a bunch of AR guys and you show up without those features they’ll probably think it’s not a real AR. But, you don’t need them with what you want to do and they add weight and complexity.”

I’m 95% sold on this exact gun, but I know I need to do my due diligence and try an AK. They look evil (which is good) and they feel … sloppy. I’m sure it would function with 8 lbs. of sand in it, but it felt old and tired. If I were going for old and tired I’d start looking at the lever guns again.

I kept trying a few of the different ARs he had on hand but kept coming back to the Smith. It had the shortest pull of all of them and Dylan and Evan could both shoulder it with the stock fully collapsed. They looked at me with the “please buy it” eyes … and I did.

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I Sold A Gun

lc3801
Wednesday I sold a gun. This was a barely used Ruger LC380 that I bought myself as a “hooray I’m single” present with the intent of using it as a carry piece. It’s a really good gun for it’s purpose, but I had my sights set on something different that would fill it’s role.

I followed all of my state’s laws and even went further to safeguard myself and the purchaser from any future problems by checking his ID and having him fill out a bill of sale with the serial number of the pistol, driver’s license info, etc. This also included a statement that he was legally able to purchase the firearm.

As the negotiations and the meet-up were planned I found out that he was a kid, just turned 21, and lived in a pretty crappy part of town. After the sale I did a little research on his neighborhood. Basically, it’s shit. It’s worse than that, he lives in an area referred to as the “Murder Factory“. Not only does our local paper have a special section on their website, there’s a documentary titled “Kansas City Murder Factory” about this kid’s zip code.

Wanting to know exactly how shitty his neighborhood is, I searched some crime stats and ended up at a real estate info site that had a graph plotting the crime rate of his zip code against the state and the nation. It’s bad.
64130_crime_rate

One of my acquaintances is in law enforcement and after the transaction he asked for the kid’s name so he could see if he was a felon, on parole, etc. This isn’t something that I really wanted weighing on my conscience, but I was awfully curious. To my relief, he came back with a clean slate and my friend saying, “are you sure that’s where he lives?”

I’m still torn about this, and I probably will be for a while. Given that the kid had a clean record, a job, was very clear and up front about his age, showed his ID without question … I’d like to think this was a net good for his outcome. He even asked about safety and CCW classes so he could get his permit and carry legally. I gave him some direction and hope he takes it. I’d probably want a weapon handy if I lived in his neighborhood, too.

On the flipside, I sold a gun into the “Murder Factory”. The chance that this gun will be stolen or used in some nefarious purpose just jumped up quite a few notches.

So did I provide a good guy a tool to maybe keep him safe or did I just make a big problem worse by adding another firearm into the mix?

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