Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My First Pistol and a Murder

My first pistol was a Ruger MK II in 22 Long Rifle.
It was nothing fancy; no bull-barrel, just a tapered one, plain-Jane sights (fixed, if I recall correctly) with a blued finish and a stock trigger, .
Much like the one in this picture, sans the adjustable rear sight.

It was used, but in good shape. Likewise, it was accurate and dependable.
In my opinion, the Mark II is one of the best designed 22 pistols ever.
Given their price, even today, one would be hard pressed to find a better pistol for the money.

This particular firearm made the rounds between myself and several friends -
T would sell it to me, I would sell it to B, B would sell it to M, M would sell it back to T later.
This was back in the 80's, and if I recall, the going rate was about $100 as it bounced from friend to friend and back again. (BTW, I will buy all the $100 Mark II's you can get!!!)

It had a comfortable feel; the grip was slightly worn from many of us, and other friends, using it.
It had 1000's and 1000's of rounds through it. You could hit a dime with it at 25 feet all day long. Beer and soda cans you could nail dang near as far as you could see them. And of course, 22 ammo is inexpensive compared to center-fire ammo like 9mm or 45 ACP. You could get hours of trigger time in for just a few dollars.

It felt solid in the hand. Balanced. Reassuring, even.
Utilitarian and fun and serious, all at the same time. It just felt...right.
It kind of became an old friend, like your favorite pocket knife, bathrobe, or hammer.

It's presence was associated with many good times, as it should have been; it had been to an uncountable number of range sessions over the years. It was even used to deter violence once, when it was in my possession - but that is another story for another day.

Then it left the "family", or "inner circle" if you will, and got sold to Wes.

Wes was older than us, a law-enforcement officer (a local jailer in town, to be precise), a casual friend, and a regular at the drive-through carry-out where I worked in my youth. He would go fishing with you, or go out and quaff a brew or two with you.

Perhaps we even drank a beer at work.
Heh. Perhaps.

Wes liked to drink, as did the rest of us.

Then one day, out of the blue, Wes had been drinking (MD 20/20 it is rumored), and murdered his girlfriend in front of her two young children by shooting her multiple times in the head with the aforementioned weapon. I think the kids were like 3 and 5, or 4 and 6 - something like that.

It was horribly shocking to all of us.


And undeniably true.

I didn't know his girlfriend very well, but I did know her, and had met her kids at the carry-out, too.

I was young. Late teens or early 20's, and for some reason, I felt betrayed.
How dare someone I liked turn out to be such a dark, low form of life? Even more disturbing, how could I not have recognized this darkness.

And how sad it was to think that my small town had a murderer in it whom with I had shared drink and broke bread. Murder where I live is front page news for weeks or months.

The whole thing killed a little piece of me. Something which I can (and do) deal with, but conversely it is something from which I can never fully recover, either.

Interestingly, it never occurred to me to blame the hardware used (nor the alcohol, drugs, his parents, or society for that matter). The gun, now technically a murder weapon, is no different than it was prior to the act. It is neither "bad", nor "good". It is still just a well designed tool, made to propel a small projectile at a relatively high speed, with some reasonable degree of accuracy. But a tool nonetheless - just like a hammer, a chainsaw, a box-end wrench or a pitchfork.

A tool that was horribly, tragically, evilly misused.

Of course, the antigunners will make the easy access argument, or play the "See - all people are really raging, seething monsters underneath, with no self-control, ready to snap at any moment" card. But the belief that a lack of access to tools would have prevented this sickening event is fallacious. And dangerous to liberty and freedom.

I'm sure they would have been much happier if he had beaten or stomped her to death, or slashed her throat.

I guess that's why I'm not a liberal, or a GFW.

Personally, I think there was one gun too few in that situation. But we'll never know, will we?

I wonder how those kids turned out...

Update: Apparently, he was paroled last year, in May. Swell.