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Think Outside the Box: Air Guns Reveal Original Intent of Second Amendment

I began my college days studying engineering at the United States Naval Academy. “Plebe Summer” was brutal and full of surprises. One of them happened on the academy firing range.

I grew up in a home without firearms. Yet in Boy Scouts we had fun shooting rifles, and I earned the Rifle Merit Badge at summer camp. I never used a handgun until I was handed a loaded Colt 45 on a summer day back in 1979.

After a brief lesson in gun safety, we sat down and waited our turn in line. Percy Coggins sat next to me, and we talked about shooting handguns. He had tons of experience with handguns. I asked him, “Do you have any tips on shooting a .45?”

Percy replied, “Sure. You just need to remember three things. First, aim the gun at the target with your eyes closed then open your eyes and adjust your aim. Next, take a half breath and hold it. Finally, squeeze the trigger slowly and be surprised when it fires.”

“Sounds good to me.” I considered myself a quick study and would listen to experts even if only 18 years old. We kept moving along until it was our turn at the firing line.

I was handed a Colt 45 and an extra magazine. The female midshipmen were handed a .38 revolver. I loaded my gun and waited for the signal to fire away. I emptied the gun and waited for someone to switch targets as I put in a fresh magazine. Upon another signal I emptied the gun at the new target, and that was that.

We sat down and waited until everyone finished their rounds. Then the officer in charge told us to pay attention. He read a list of names, which included “Emmons.” He then said, “Congratulations, you have earned the Navy Expert Pistol medal.”

I was floored, because Plebe Summer had been a major challenge for me. So glad I had listened to Coach Coggins.

With Ballot Measure 114 recently ruled unconstitutional, Oregonians again have the opportunity to buy handguns without needing to get a “Permit to purchase” or FBI fingerprinting. You can buy magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. At least for now. Our recent court victory is being appealed.

For anyone without a handgun, now might be your best opportunity to get one along with some ammunition.

Of course, you might still be leery about getting a background check, registering your gun with the FBI and completing the paperwork and training needed to get a concealed-carry license. Too much money, too much loss of privacy and too little trust to keep private information private.

Or you might live in a state like California or New York, which makes owning a handgun and carrying concealed very difficult.

One Eagle subscriber lives in Washington, D.C. You would not believe the amount of paperwork, training, fingerprinting and days of waiting to get a handgun in our nation’s capital today.

Based upon D.C.’s Metropolitan Police website, it appears to be impossible for a private citizen buy a handgun in our nation’s capital.

  • “Under federal law, a handgun purchased in a state in which you do not live MUST be transferred through an FFL in your state of residence.
  • “Once you purchase a firearm in another jurisdiction, request the original dealer to arrange to ship the firearm to an approved FFL dealer in D.C., which will then become the SELLER. (At the time of this publication, no FFLs in the District are providing retail sales to the public.)”

There are now zero FFL dealers who sell handguns to private citizens in D.C. This means the Second Amendment has changed to, “The right of Washington, D.C., residents to keep and bear Arms shall be infringed so much that it is impossible to buy a handgun.”

What can a person in D.C. do? The same thing an Oregonian can do who wants personal self-defense protection without buying a handgun. Buy an air gun.

Stop laughing, all you gunowners out there. Air guns are great for training purposes so you can save your ammo for when it you need it most.

To understand the true intent of the Second Amendment, let’s reword it to “The right of the people to keep and bear air guns shall not be infringed.”

Modern air guns are considered non-lethal or less than lethal. This changes everything.

Air guns are legal to purchase in all 50 states without a background check or registration. Air gun owners can carry concealed without a permit or open carry in most states.

Doesn’t that sound like the true intent of the Second Amendment for all guns and for all citizens?

For years air guns shot pellets only and were mainly good for target practice. Paintball guns are fun but not so great for personal defense. Air guns also come in .50 caliber, which fire more serious projectiles, i.e. spherical bullets. You can shoot rubber balls to slow someone down or fire pepper spray balls to temporarily put an aggressor out of commission. There are also powder balls that burst into dust, so you know when you’ve hit the target.

Air guns come in the form of handguns plus long guns, which look like hunting rifles or AR-15s. The balls are fired using compressed air from small canisters. No gun powder required.

You can find personal defense air guns at local retailers and gun stores. Selection will vary widely, with some stores carrying paintball guns and pellet guns only. I was surprised to see the wide selection of air guns and air rifles available on Amazon.

Obviously, air guns won’t work for every person or every situation. Yet .50 caliber air guns offer a non-lethal personal defense option for home, church and many schools.

Richard Emmons is the publisher and editor of the Josephine County Eagle.