WBEZ | Our Guns http://www.wbez.org/tags/our-guns Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Guns for history and protection http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/guns-history-and-protection-105801 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/P1070535.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><object height="465" width="620"><param name="flashvars" value="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157632881892020%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157632881892020%2F&amp;set_id=72157632881892020&amp;jump_to=" /><param name="movie" value="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157632881892020%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157632881892020%2F&amp;set_id=72157632881892020&amp;jump_to=" height="465" src="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="620"></embed></object></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F81196521&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>By his own admission, when 59-year-old Pat Hogan goes to work, he feels like a kid in a candy store.</p><p>&ldquo;Look at the thing! It&rsquo;s absolutely brand spankin&rsquo; new!&rdquo; Hogan says, marveling at an item in his collection.</p><p>Except it&rsquo;s not candy. It&rsquo;s guns.</p><p>Hogan owns the Rock Island Auction Company, in Rock Island, Ill., about three hours west of Chicago. He&rsquo;s one of the largest antique arms dealers in the United States. As part of the series &ldquo;Our Guns,&rdquo; WBEZ is profiling local gun owners to hear about their different relationships to guns, and the national gun debate.</p><p>Hogan says his relationship is largely about history &ndash; lots of it. He shows me around his 50,000 square foot production floor, which he estimates holds 15,000 to 18,000 guns at any one time, being inspected, unloaded, safety checked and tagged for auction.</p><p>The floor features towering shelves stacked with military rifles, and long white tables, covered with pistols, muskets &ndash; even machine guns, which Hogan is federally licensed to sell to buyers who&rsquo;ve undergone rigorous background checks.</p><p>&ldquo;No one&rsquo;s robbin&rsquo; a 7-11 with that because how much it cost,&rdquo; he said, gesturing at a World War II-era machine gun as we tour the production floor. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s gotta be in the $30,000 range.&rdquo;</p><p>There are guns so big two people would need to carry them, and other guns small enough to hold in the palm of your hand. There are rusted out guns, carried through war zones, and guns Hogan calls &ldquo;Beanie Babies,&rdquo; made just for collecting, not for shooting.</p><p>Hogan said he runs into a lot of people who don&rsquo;t understand this hobby &ndash; why somebody would want to own hundreds of guns.</p><p>&ldquo;I kinda laugh at that because they wouldn&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s unusual for somebody to have 200 stamps, or 500 Raggedy Ann dolls,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;This is what it&rsquo;s all about. This is collecting.&rdquo;</p><p>Hogan says he has a few hundred guns in his personal collection. But he doesn&rsquo;t use his guns for hunting, and he doesn&rsquo;t even shoot that much.</p><p>For him and a lot of his clients, gun collecting is about owning a piece of history. And it&rsquo;s also about this almost obsessive appreciation for craftsmanship.</p><p>When I drove out to meet Hogan, I was expecting an hour-long interview &ndash; two hours, tops. But we strolled through his warehouse for more than six hours while Hogan pointed out shotguns with elaborate engraved scrollwork, or got excited about the slight mechanical differences between two models of Civil War-era pistols. And it seems like every he started to explain his passion for collecting guns, he&rsquo;d get distracted by another gun, pluck it off the shelf, and swoon.</p><p>Some will sell for a few hundred dollars at auction, and some for a few hundred thousand dollars.</p><p>Hogan unlocks a door off the main floor and takes me into a room he calls &ldquo;the vault.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;See, only certain people have access to this,&rdquo; he said, unlocking the door to a cement, climate-controlled room. This is where Hogan is legally required to stow the fully-automatic machine guns &ndash; as well as some of the most prized items in his collection.</p><p>He shows me an ornately engraved pistol &ndash; which he describes as a &ldquo;masterpiece,&rdquo; wrought by one of the country&rsquo;s foremost gun engravers. It features a pastoral scene, with a relief-carved Indian brave, inlaid in gold, stalking a deer that&rsquo;s drinking water from a lake, set in siver.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;d be crazy to shoot these,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Around lunchtime, he&rsquo;s showing me an infrared scope that fits on an M1 carbine military rifle, when I get a news alert on my phone that brings up another side of guns.</p><p>The text says there&rsquo;s been a shooting at an office park in Phoenix. There was one gunman who shot three victims, one of them dead. (A second victim died later, and the gunman shot himself.)</p><p>Just a few minutes after the news breaks, as Hogan and I are overlooking his production floor, I ask for his first reaction.</p><p>&ldquo;I hope they shot the bastard right between the eyes that did the shooting,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I hope they, they &ndash; they killed him.&rdquo;</p><p>Hogan believes shootings like this are about mental illness, or a culture that glorifies violence. He opposes stricter gun control laws, but he said this type of violence isn&rsquo;t about guns &ndash; it&rsquo;s about the people shooting them.</p><p>But he does see this as the reason to give more guns to law-abiding people who aren&rsquo;t afraid to use them.</p><p>&ldquo; The message gets out there to people who are gonna commit crimes with guns that, you know what? I pull this gun out, maybe somebody&rsquo;s gonna shoot me,&rdquo; Hogan said. &ldquo;I know that&rsquo;s the old Wild West kinda mentality. But, you know, to some extent, it worked.&rdquo;</p><p>For Hogan, that&rsquo;s one more lesson from history.</p></p> Thu, 28 Feb 2013 07:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/guns-history-and-protection-105801 'I feel better knowing I have the option of not being a victim' http://www.wbez.org/news/i-feel-better-knowing-i-have-option-not-being-victim-105766 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/target.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F80956207&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false&amp;color=ff7700" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>In WBEZ&rsquo;s ongoing series, &quot;Our Guns,&quot; we talked to gun owners about what role firearms play in their lives. In this segment, we spoke to a gay man and a transgender woman who own guns.</p><p>The idea to explore gun ownership from this perspective came from a national group called <a href="http://www.pinkpistols.org/">Pink Pistols</a>. The group advocates gun ownership in the LGBT community. Their tagline is &ldquo;pick on someone your own caliber,&rdquo; and &ldquo;armed gays don&rsquo;t get bashed.&rdquo;</p><p>Gwendolyn Patton of Pink Pistols says the group changes the perception that gay people are easy victims.</p><p>&quot;We teach queers to shoot, then we teach the rest of the world we&rsquo;ve done it,&quot; she said. &quot;Because then they may think twice about using (LGBT people) as a target.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s difficult to know just how big the Pink Pistols movement is&mdash; Pink Pistols doesn&rsquo;t keep a national count.</p><p>LGBT leaders told us that gun ownership used to protect against hate crimes was rare. But Pink Pistols said that being out of the closet didn&rsquo;t mean you were out of the gun cabinet, so there may be more gay gun owners than we know.</p><p>There isn&rsquo;t currently an active Pink Pistols group in Chicago. But we did find to two local LGBT gun owners. Both say they own guns, in part, for recreational use. But protection played a role, too.</p><p>Tallie lives in Oak Park, Illinois and was initially scared of owning and operating a gun. So, she pushed herself to practice and has become more and more comfortable with using one. She said she believed it&#39;s her right to defend herself.</p><p>OT lives in Chicago Heights, Illinois. He&#39;s a small business-owner who first bought a gun to protect his business from burglary. He said he wants anyone thinking about causing harm or damage to think twice about messing with him.</p></p> Tue, 26 Feb 2013 12:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/i-feel-better-knowing-i-have-option-not-being-victim-105766 At guns hearing, debate centers around concealed carry, not schools http://www.wbez.org/news/guns-hearing-debate-centers-around-concealed-carry-not-schools-105623 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F80052390" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>The line for the general public to get into the House Judiciary Committee&rsquo;s hearing on guns Tuesday was already long an hour before it started. Anyone looking to get in had to get through two metal detectors and have their driver&rsquo;s license photocopied.</p><p>John Laskowski, 60, got in late.</p><p>Laskowski is from McHenry County and said he was in Springfield anyway, so thought he&rsquo;d pop in to see lawmakers at work for the first time in his life.</p><p>What he saw, for the last hour of the discussion at least, was a hearing with a particular emphasis on concealing weapons.&nbsp;Laskowski said he thinks there&rsquo;s some legitimacy to the argument that concealed carry could reduce crime.</p><p>&ldquo;People who suspect that there may be weapons available, in my mind, probably are less likely to go ahead and try to take advantage of someone that they presume to be vulnerable,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Laskowski said it is complicated, given the issues facing residents in urban, suburban, and rural areas of Illinois.</p><p>Part of the gun debate includes banning certain types of guns, so-called assault weapons and high-capacity clips. Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn recently said he wants to mandate schools across the state have drills for emergency situations. And, in addition, Illinois lawmakers are planning to address concealing weapons.</p><p>Illinois is the only state in the country to not allow concealed carry, but that&rsquo;s likely to change soon. A federal court in Chicago recently mandated lawmakers in Springfield put something on the books by spring. That means the clock is ticking, which is where Tuesday&rsquo;s guns hearing comes in.</p><p>Thousands of people submitted requests to talk. That list was whittled down to four panels, mostly made up of lobbyists or representatives of groups invested in the discussion; people lawmakers have heard from before.</p><p>&ldquo;We have a concern that introducing firearms into the school environment would ultimately make schools less safe,&rdquo; said Nicole Wills, who is with the Illinois State Board of Education.</p><p>Wills was part of the last panel, which spoke on the relationship between guns and businesses and schools. That panel was cut short because Republicans had the room signed out for 3 p.m. When one GOP representative turned around to say the hearing was being too rushed, the chairwoman, Rep. Elaine Nekritz, could be heard saying, &ldquo;It&rsquo;s your caucus,&rdquo; a little off the microphone.</p><p>After the meeting adjourned, many involved in the hearings, including Rep. Dennis Reboletti, R-Addison, didn&rsquo;t seem too concerned the schools panel was cut short.</p><p>&ldquo;You know what, we had been going for three hours and I think people are very sensitive to the concerns of school safety and they&rsquo;ll definitely be included in any type of decision, there&rsquo;s no doubt about that,&rdquo; Reboletti said.</p><p>In fairness, some school groups said they would remain neutral on certain proposals. Most of what was said at the hearing, lawmakers had heard before.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think I gleaned anything else new, at least for myself,&rdquo; Reboletti said after the meeting.</p><p>Some of the schools groups did make brief speeches, saying they want a seat at the table during negotiations &mdash;negotiations that aren&rsquo;t a part of these hearings, but are taking place out of the public eye.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s fair to say there&rsquo;s a lot of behind-the-scenes conversations with a lot of the interested parties,&rdquo; Reboletti said.</p><p>Those are conversations people like John Laskowski won&rsquo;t get to see.</p><p>&ldquo;There are no easy answers,&rdquo; Laskowski said. &ldquo;Definitely no easy answers. I don&rsquo;t know which way this is gonna go.&rdquo;</p><p>But Laskowski could go to another legislative guns hearing Friday in Chicago, where public officials who have already made their positions known on gun legislation are expected to testify.</p><p>There was one surprise to come from Tuesday&rsquo;s hearing for some lawmakers. It came when Paul Castiglione, with the Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney&rsquo;s office, said his office believes the federal appeals court doesn&rsquo;t have jurisdiction over the state legislature.</p><p>&quot;Only the Illinois Supreme Court can declare a law, a statute from this body of this state to be unconstitutional,&quot; Castiglione said at the hearing.</p><p>That was news to State Rep. Michael Zalewski.</p><p>&ldquo;You kind of dropped a pretty big rhetorical bomb on some of us here,&rdquo; Zalewski said.</p><p>Zalewski warned Cook County prosecutors to tread carefully because lawmakers are operating under the assumption they only have a few months to pass a concealed carry bill. He said he doesn&rsquo;t want to see prosecutors from various parts of the state prosecuting gun crimes differently.</p><p>Other legislators say if no concealed carry law is passed by the federal court&rsquo;s deadline, then anyone could carry any type of weapon anywhere legally in Illinois.</p></p> Tue, 19 Feb 2013 23:07:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/guns-hearing-debate-centers-around-concealed-carry-not-schools-105623 For these hunters, it's not all about the geese http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/these-hunters-its-not-all-about-geese-105592 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/goose.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><object height="450" width="620"><param name="flashvars" value="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157632796346677%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157632796346677%2F&amp;set_id=72157632796346677&amp;jump_to=" /><param name="movie" value="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157632796346677%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157632796346677%2F&amp;set_id=72157632796346677&amp;jump_to=" height="450" src="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="620"></embed></object></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F79853098" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>When goose hunter Neal Brooks says you&rsquo;re in for a cold, early morning, he means every word of it.</p><p>&ldquo;Well, it is 6:36 and it&rsquo;s a brisky eight degrees,&rdquo; Brooks told me one bitter, late January morning, as I arrived at the clubhouse of his Mazonia Hunt Club in Gardner, Ill., about an hour southwest of Chicago.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s actually a little generous to call it a clubhouse: We&rsquo;re in a refurbished auto mechanics&rsquo; garage, which Brooks has made a bit cozier with hot coffee, old recliners and a cable hunting show on TV. On the walls is a menagerie of North American game trophies&ndash; ducks, pheasants, deer, elk &ndash; all stuffed.</p><p>This is the rendezvous point, where the hunters get the blood flowing before going out for game - in this case, Canada geese.</p><p>Brooks agreed to let me tag along on a hunt with a couple his clients, so I could hear how hunting informed the way they think about guns and shooting. As part of WBEZ&rsquo;s &ldquo;Our Guns,&rdquo; reporters have been profiling local gun owners to document the range of relationships people have with firearms, at a time with politicians and activists debate gun laws in Washington and in statehouses across the country.</p><p>For hunters and sportsmen, the relationship to guns and shooting is often part family tradition, part politics and part fun.</p><p>Mike Blaske, 32, a logistics manager in Lockport, says his life as a hunter started when he was a boy, going out with his dad.<br /><br />&ldquo;So once I got old enough, my dad was looking for another hunting partner, and uh, took me when I was young, when I was about seven years old. And I didn&rsquo;t have a gun or anything, but I sat in the blind and watched him,&rdquo; Blaske said, as he got ready for the morning&rsquo;s goose hunt.</p><p>Tradition and family, for some, are a big part of hunting.<br /><br />&ldquo;I recognized as a kid that if I was gonna see my father during hunting season ... I&rsquo;d better be hunting with him,&rdquo; said Scott Early, 63, a retired Chicago securities lawyer. Early&rsquo;s backstory sounds familiar: his father, their hunting dogs and some elusive pheasant.</p><p>&ldquo;Once you got started, no matter what you&rsquo;re doing now, you&rsquo;re gonna find a way to get back to it,&rdquo; Early said. &ldquo;It gets in your blood. And that&rsquo;s where I am now.&rdquo;<br /><br />As the sun gets higher, everybody pulls on their camouflage outerwear and climbs into an SUV that takes us to the hunting site. The shotguns are stowed in the back of the truck, unloaded.</p><p>As we drive, I feel like I&rsquo;m asking the obvious, but I want the hunters to tell me what their guns mean to them. Early raises an eyebrow at the question.</p><p>&ldquo;That would be like saying, &lsquo;How do you regard your golf clubs?&rsquo;&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;The golf clubs are just a means to an end. For me, and I think, for a lotta hunters, the enjoyment you get is the process, as much as the result.&rdquo;<br /><br />We reach our destination. It&rsquo;s a harvested corn field of stubbled stalks with a long, low hut near one edge, camouflaged by reeds.<br /><br />This is the goose blind - where the hunters sit hidden in folding chairs, so as not to spook the geese and ruin their big shot. Everybody climbs in, loads their guns, and the waiting begins.<br /><br />Early says he owns a handful of guns, but has only every purchased one himself; the others were handed down by relatives, or won at waterfowl conservation raffles.</p><p>The one with him today is a shotgun, covered in camouflage to match the blind, the kind of gun that&rsquo;s made to handle extreme cold and take a beating.</p><p>And today, that&rsquo;s good protection to have: The wind chill is about eight degrees below zero, according to our guide, Larry Juhl, who says he&rsquo;s been hunting geese for nearly 60 years.<br /><br />Juhl was out in the field even earlier than us (when it was even colder) to set out our decoys. There are about fifty of them, and they look remarkably like real geese. Juhl stands them huddled in little clusters around our blind, set up to look like they&rsquo;re eating or sleeping or standing watch &ndash; a pattern designed to attract actual geese flying overhead.</p><p>&ldquo;Because I flew helicopters in the Army, I have an appreciation for runways,&rdquo; Juhl says, explaining exactly why his decoy spread is supposed to be so inviting to Canada geese. &ldquo;And the last thing you want on a runway is something on it. You want it all to yourself.&rdquo;<br /><br />Goose hunters couple this with calling the geese, to create a scene that makes the animals want to land in this particular field. All of this work is what Early says makes him love the process.</p><p>&ldquo;[S]eeing, in this case, a goose, lock its wings and come down and come in, and it&rsquo;s a gorgeous, gorgeous sight,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And it&rsquo;s like, you&rsquo;ve done all this work, you&rsquo;ve put all this patience and time in, and now it&rsquo;s the fulfillment of it.&rdquo;</p><p>But by around 9:30 a.m., the hunters are still unfulfilled.</p><p>&ldquo;You ever had days where it was a good morning to sleep in?&rdquo; Juhl asks rhetorically. &ldquo;I think that&rsquo;s what the geese are doing this morning.&rdquo;</p><p>But the men swap hunting stories; they share jokes; they sip steaming hot coffee. At some point, the conversation turns toward politics.</p><p>Blaske, the other hunter, points out the shotgun he&rsquo;s carrying isn&rsquo;t all that different from the type of military-style assault rifles some people want banned.<br /><br />&ldquo;My gun - I could use - anybody could use a shotgun as a malicious weapon as well as a assault rifle,&rdquo; Blaske said. &ldquo;But, it&rsquo;s not going to be used that way.&rdquo;<br /><br />For Blaske, his shotgun is practical. Think getting dinner on the table. But for Early, the ex-lawyer, it&rsquo;s also constitutional. &nbsp;Think minutemen, anti-tyranny, the Second Amendment.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s very easy to sound paranoid in that discussion, but the short answer to your question is, that&rsquo;s the way the amendment was drafted, and it was drafted for a very good reason,&rdquo; Early said. &ldquo;Because the government knows that it has the citizenry who will not stand for what George Washington called the tyranny of government.&rdquo;<br /><br />This lofty talk about the U.S. Constitution gets me rethinking Early&rsquo;s analogy - how his gun is like his golf clubs. I point out there is no national debate about golf clubs, but he says the similarity is in the attachment people have to their cherished possessions.</p><p>&ldquo;And it may be personal attachment, because it&rsquo;s been such a useful tool to you. It may be because it has sentimental value. It may be any number of reasons. But it&rsquo;s not the kind of irrational, psychotic lust that a lot of people make it out to be,&rdquo; Early said.<br /><br />By mid-afternoon Early unloads his shotgun to call it a day. The SUV returns to take him back to the hunt club in town &ndash; skunked, with not a single Canada goose sighted.<br /><br />&ldquo;Our day was, on the one level, frustrating because we didn&rsquo;t even see anything fly this morning,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;But that&rsquo;s why they call it hunting, and not shooting. You never know. And, as my father always used to say, You can&rsquo;t shoot &lsquo;em in the living room so you gotta come out and try.&rdquo;</p></p> Mon, 18 Feb 2013 15:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/these-hunters-its-not-all-about-geese-105592 'By the time you hear a shotgun cock, you pretty much know what time it is' http://www.wbez.org/news/time-you-hear-shotgun-cock-you-pretty-much-know-what-time-it-105522 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS7013_Lisa, Gary gun owner and child-scr.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F79164712&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe>The reasons people own guns can vary as much as the opinions over what to do about gun violence.</p><p>In WBEZ&rsquo;s ongoing series &ldquo;Our Guns,&rdquo; we&rsquo;ve been hearing from local gun owners to learn more about their affinity for firearms.</p><p>So far, we&rsquo;ve heard from hunters and American soldiers. Skeet shooters and firearm safety instructors.</p><p>Today, we hear from two women from the high crime city of Gary, Indiana. They don&#39;t know each other but they both own guns for one simple reason: Protection.</p><p>Lisa requested that we not use her last name, but she is a 30-year-old nurse who lives alone with her two children ages 8 months and 8 years old.</p><p>Leticia Baker is a&nbsp;34-year-old social worker with a bubbly personality.</p><p>Gary is a city that experienced more than 200 home burglaries in December.</p><p>Some of those have turned deadly for the homeowner.</p><p>These two women say they don&#39;t want to become the next victim.</p></p> Wed, 13 Feb 2013 18:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/time-you-hear-shotgun-cock-you-pretty-much-know-what-time-it-105522 Guns and duty, once the combat tour ends http://www.wbez.org/news/guns-and-duty-once-combat-tour-ends-105469 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P1080059.JPG" style="height: 436px; width: 620px;" title="Former U.S. Marine Justin Wigg, 28, of Schaumburg pulls in a paper target to see how he did.(Alex Keefe/WBEZ)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F78845520&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Justin Wigg says it took about three years of being out of the United States Marine Corps before he stopped having the dream.</p><p>&ldquo;You could ask just about any military vet if they&rsquo;ve ever had &lsquo;that dream,&rsquo; and they&rsquo;ll know what you&rsquo;re talking about,&rdquo; Wigg, 28, explained one recent weeknight at his home in Schaumburg, Ill. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s that dream where you wake up in the middle of the night and you are like, &lsquo;Oh s---, I don&rsquo;t know where my rifle is.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>But gone are the days when Wigg&rsquo;s dreams are haunted by barking Marine Corps drill instructors, dressing him down for not having his rifle ready at all hours of the day. Now he&rsquo;s got a corporate job, a suburban townhouse and a rambunctious brindle greyhound, named Sheriff.</p><p>And he still has a gun, albeit just one: A SIG Sauer P226 .40 cal. pistol he stows in a blue plastic case, tucked into his bedroom wardrobe &ndash; well out of arm&rsquo;s reach.</p><p>Wigg is one of several people WBEZ is profiling as part of the series, &ldquo;Our Guns.&rdquo; It aims to document the different relationships local gun owners have with their firearms, as people across the country debate gun rights and gun control in the aftermath of mass shootings in Newtown, Conn. and daily gun violence here in Chicago.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Few have a closer relationship to their guns than soldiers in combat, but that can change as they ease back into civilian life.</div><p>After serving two tours in Iraq, Wigg said not carrying a gun when he first left the Marine Corps made him feel kind of naked. (Think: forgetting your cell phone at home, or driving without a seatbelt.)<br />His itch to carry a gun was stifled, he said, by the fact that Illinois is the only state in the U.S. that does not allow people to carry concealed weapons. A lot of his buddies from other states started carrying when they got out of the service, Wigg said.</p><p>&ldquo;And part of it probably is because of that - that dream feeling,&rdquo; he said, adding his friends now think: &ldquo;&rsquo;I&rsquo;ve had a gun stuck to my hip for the last four years, and why - why not just go buy a pistol and keep myself calm with that sense of safety?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/KEEFE%20GUNS%20military%209.jpg" style="float: right; height: 524px; width: 350px;" title="Wigg displays a bandaged finger, after being shot by friendly fire while serving in Iraq. (Courtesy image)" />I should disclose that I actually went to middle school with Justin Wigg, though we were never close. We hadn&rsquo;t talked in about 15 years, until we reconnected on Facebook when he learned I was doing this story.</div><p>The town in which we were raised &ndash; northwest suburban Roselle, Ill. &ndash; is the kind of place where most of the kids I knew had never even fired a gun. Wigg says his first time wasn&rsquo;t until basic training.</p><h2><strong>&lsquo;Luckiest person in Iraq&rsquo;</strong></h2><p>When I visit his home, Wigg pops in a DVD to show me &ndash; a kind of video scrapbook of his time in the Marines, set to rock music and rap.</p><p>In one scene, camouflaged Marines slide down ropes trailing from a low-flying helicopter. In another, guys in full gear are shooting at targets shaped roughly like human silhouettes. A big part of all this training &ndash; the long hours at the shooting range &ndash; is safety.</p><p>Wigg points to a scar on his right middle finger. This is where a bullet went clean through his flesh while on patrol one day in Iraq, without breaking a bone.</p><p>The shot was accidental, fired from the rifle of a fellow Marine who wasn&rsquo;t following safety protocol.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s extremely amazing,&rdquo; Wigg said, admiring that his finger still functions normally. &ldquo;The doctor said that I was the luckiest person in Iraq that day that I still had my finger attached.&rdquo;</p><h2><strong>Training</strong></h2><div class="image-insert-image ">The story of this injury reminds me that Wigg&rsquo;s experience with guns is unique, something most Americans will never experience.</div><p>He carried a loaded gun as part of his job, for months on end, to guard against the very real danger that somebody would try to kill him.</p><p>He was trained until his gun became an extension of his body, trained until the training itself crept into his dreams. And he was trained to do what many hunters and sportsmen are trained not to do: Shoot other people.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P1080113.JPG" style="float: left; height: 246px; width: 350px;" title="Wigg shows off a tight cluster of of shots he made on the lower part of the target. He used a semi-automatic civilian version of the rifle he used in the military. The reporter's shots are scattered, less accurately, along the top of the target. (Alex Keefe/WBEZ)" />&ldquo;I&rsquo;d say that, you know, once you get out past that 50-yard distance, you know, like, you can&rsquo;t see faces and you can&rsquo;t - you know, it - it makes it a little easier to - to not have that emotional connection,&rdquo; Wigg said, when I ask him about this.</p><p>This answer is not &ldquo;P.C,&rdquo; he laments. But that lack of emotion, he called it &quot;dehumanizing,&quot; was part of his training, too.</p><p>Now that he&rsquo;s out of the Marine Corps, he says he&rsquo;s able to think of his enemies differently.</p><p>&ldquo;I know that they all have the same feelings and families and things like that,&rdquo; Wigg said. &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s just - that&rsquo;s part of war and that&rsquo;s the stuff that you - you don&rsquo;t have time to think about at the time, and you spend the rest of your life dealing with.&rdquo;</p><h2><strong>&lsquo;When the good guys are armed&rsquo;</strong></h2><p>On a recent weeknight, I met Wigg at an indoor range in Lombard, Ill.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">The ground inside the shooting range is strewn with spent brass shell casings. The air is pungent with the smell of gunfire, and so thick you can taste it &ndash; sweet, in the back of your throat.</div><p>&ldquo;[With] good ammo, you don&rsquo;t get the taste, you just get that good, nostalgic smell that you think of,&rdquo; he shouted over the sound of gunfire, in between turns shooting at the paper target downrange.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P1080104.JPG" style="height: 384px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Equipment rests on the ground in between shooting sets. (Alex Keefe/WBEZ)" />Wigg says he is still nostalgic about those long hours at the military range, shooting off thousands of rounds. But now, he shoots with his friends just a couple of times a month, mostly for the fun of it.</p><p>He and a buddy, another ex-Marine,- argue over who shot which holes through a black, silhouette-shaped paper target.</p><p>&ldquo;After a stressful day, you know, this is a really good way to just blow off some steam,&rdquo; Wigg explained. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s good guy time to just shoot the s---, make fun of each other.&rdquo;</p><p>But for Wigg, this is more than just a night with the guys. He believes carrying a concealed weapon is a right, that someday he hopes to exercise in Illinois. His military training could be an asset if he were ever witness to a crime, and needed to act, he said.</p><p>&ldquo;Your chances are better when the good guys are armed than when it&rsquo;s just bad guys with guns,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Wigg says that familiar refrain &ndash; &quot;only a good guy with a gun, can stop a bad guy with a gun&quot; &ndash; appeals to his sense of duty, even if he no longer wears a uniform.</p></p> Mon, 11 Feb 2013 15:51:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/guns-and-duty-once-combat-tour-ends-105469 Sitting in on a firearms safety class http://www.wbez.org/news/sitting-firearms-safety-class-105415 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2013-02-08 at 8.41.42 AM.png" alt="" /><p><div id="PictoBrowser130207161043" style="text-align: center;">Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer</div><script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser/swfobject.js"></script><script type="text/javascript">var so = new SWFObject("http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser.swf", "PictoBrowser", "500", "500", "8", "#DDDDDD"); so.addParam("quality", "low"); so.addParam("scale", "noscale"); so.addParam("align", "mid"); so.addVariable("ids", "72157632702172037"); so.addVariable("names", "Our Guns: Firearms Training"); so.addVariable("userName", "chicagopublicmedia"); so.addVariable("userId", "33876038@N00"); so.addVariable("source", "sets"); so.write("PictoBrowser130207161043"); </script><p>It&rsquo;s still dark out this morning, below freezing outside and pretty cramped in this back room of a gun shop.</p><p>But the nine people seated at fold-up tables and chairs are sitting straight for the lesson in firearms safety.</p><p>There&rsquo;s a 12-year-old boy here with his father. The father is a long-time firearms owner who wants to make sure his son isn&rsquo;t afraid of guns.</p><p>The majority of students are women. Some who want to make sure they&rsquo;re familiar with the firearms already brought into their homes by husbands or boyfriends. There&rsquo;s also a teacher who said she wanted to be prepared in case her school district chose to arm faculty. She didn&rsquo;t have to pay the $50 class fee. The store regularly offers free classes to teachers.</p><p>&ldquo;What kind of gun should you buy? It depends on what you want it for,&rdquo; said Mike Rioux, the owner and operator of Red Dot Arms in Lake Villa, Illinois.</p><p>Rioux is the teacher today. He&rsquo;s a Canadian expatriate who&rsquo;s been around firearms his whole life. He&rsquo;s a licensed instructor and a passionate gun owner.</p><p>&ldquo;My grandfather said to me when I was 12, if you can shoot this 12 gauge shotgun, it&rsquo;s yours,&rdquo; Rioux recalled.</p><p>He handled it well and so began a love affair.</p><p>Shotguns are what Rioux suggested for home safety and self-defense.</p><p>He said the bullets used for an AR-15, what some people believe is the best choice, will go through the room you&rsquo;re in, the next room and into your neighbor&rsquo;s house.</p><p>&ldquo;It can go for miles and miles,&rdquo; Rioux said.</p><p>That&rsquo;s why Rioux says buckshots used in shotguns are the way to go.</p><p>&ldquo;At this distance, it would make a huge hole in the drywall. You gotta know what&rsquo;s beyond your target. If you&rsquo;re in the house, use the smallest bb you&rsquo;ve got,&rdquo; Rioux recommended.</p><p>He started by explaining how different firearms work because he said it was important to practice regularly. Once a week at least, so it&rsquo;s important to make sure you&rsquo;re spending money on the right equipment and the right ammo, especially considering how expensive ammo was at the time of our interview.</p><p>Here are some highlights from the class:&nbsp;</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="338" mozallowfullscreen="" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/59086282?byline=0" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="600"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 07 Feb 2013 15:52:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/sitting-firearms-safety-class-105415 Preppers: Guns are the most important tool in preparing for the end of civilization http://www.wbez.org/news/preppers-guns-are-most-important-tool-preparing-end-civilization-105386 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F78175288&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Forty-nine-year-old George calls himself &ldquo;half-hillbilly, half Viking.&rdquo;<br /><br />He lives in a suburban ranch home in Lake County, Illinois. It&rsquo;s not a big piece of land. But on his property, in a shed, he has enough food, water and emergency supplies to last him and his family a few weeks.<br /><br />To protect all of that stuff, he has a lot of guns.&nbsp;</p><p>He said he&rsquo;s just a country boy. But some people would refer to him as a prepper. That&rsquo;s part of a growing group of Americans who believe life, as we know it, will end. They worry about a long list of disasters ranging from earthquakes to an economic collapse that would send people scrambling for food, water, gasoline and other essential supplies.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/George%27s%20gunshop%20sells%20short-term%20emergency%20kits%20like%20these%20to%20preppers.JPG" style="height: 333px; width: 250px; float: right;" title="George's gunshop sells short-term emergency kits like these to preppers. (Aurora Aguilar)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">George said he has &ldquo;more than one gun and less than 100 guns.&rdquo;</div><div><p>He wouldn&rsquo;t admit how many guns he has because he worried people might try to rob them and his supply.<br /><br />That&rsquo;s why he uses the pseudonym George Drouillard. History buffs might recognize the name. Drouillard was a hunter on the Lewis and Clark expedition.<br /><br />This George is over six feet tall and blond. He&rsquo;s broad-shouldered and barrel-chested. He looks like he&rsquo;s from another era. He&rsquo;s always wearing an Army-green shirt covered with firearm teaching badges he&rsquo;s earned over the years. &nbsp;<br /><br />He&rsquo;s an imposing figure. But when he holds a shotgun nearly half his size, it&rsquo;s like just another limb, an extension of his arm.<br /><br />George worried that society&rsquo;s anthropomorphized guns. That we&rsquo;re not blaming or assessing the people holding them. In a family of war veterans, hunters and farmers, guns are thought of as tools, meant to provide food and protection.<br /><br />George said guns were kept in the house and considered as normal and useful as silverware in the kitchen and tools in his father&rsquo;s workbench.<br /><br />He described his upbringing--sort of pioneer living--as having taught him to be self-sufficient, to have the common sense to save for a rainy day and to give back more than he takes.<br /><br />He has guns for hunting and skeet and trap shooting.<br /><br />For the past 30 years, guns have been his livelihood. George studied American History and Political Science in college. But after graduating, he started selling sports equipment, including guns.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image ">George carries two guns at work in the gun shops, as is customary in this business. Gun stores get held up a lot. He&rsquo;s stopped three attempted robberies by pointing the barrel of his shotgun. Every incident, he said, ended with no shots fired. George said he&rsquo;s never shot a person. He doesn&rsquo;t want to.</div></div><p>George doesn&rsquo;t want to feel like his life is in danger again, and that&rsquo;s why he&rsquo;s got guns to protect himself and others.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s hard to say how many preppers are out there. They&rsquo;re a secretive bunch. But according to a National Geographic poll, 28 percent of Americans know someone who thinks life as we know it will come to an end. They worry about disasters ranging from earthquakes to a collapse of the government.<br /><br />George&rsquo;s worst-case scenario would be a long-term lack of electricity, a major failure of electrical grid.<br /><br />&ldquo;It could turn us from 2013 to 1750 in a matter of minutes or days. Things would get very out of hand in a very very quick way,&rdquo; George said.<br /><br />The fear that their stockpiles of food or weapons could be stolen stops preppers from talking. George&rsquo;s neighbors 25 feet away don&rsquo;t know he&rsquo;s a prepper. Even George&rsquo;s girlfriend thinks his stash is a little goofy.<br /><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/George%20is%20a%20supporter%20of%20gun%20rights%20and%20conservative%20viewpoints.JPG" style="height: 188px; width: 250px; float: left;" title=" George is a supporter of gun rights and conservative viewpoints. (Aurora Aguilar)" />He has a number of bug-out bags. That&rsquo;s the equipment gathered by preppers. He has a few of them in his car. These bags vary in size from cross-country backpacks to fanny packs and contain food, water, medical supplies and endless tools.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/George carries this tool in his car at all times.JPG" style="float: right; height: 333px; width: 250px;" title="George carries this tool in his car at all times. (Aurora Aguilar)" /></div><p>George always carries stuff like a <a href="http://www.leatherman.com/">Leatherman tool.</a> He jokes that even if he were wearing a swimsuit, he&rsquo;d have it tucked away somewhere.<br /><br />The idea is to always be prepared, and for George, to be prepared to help others.<br /><br />&ldquo;Police and fire department and public works will be spread way too thin in the event of an emergency. They may live 50 miles away and they will stay home and take care of their families. As they should,&rdquo; George said.<br /><br />A sense of duty made George sign up for a federally run program that trains people to step in when professional responders are not immediately available.<br /><br />He belongs to <a href="https://www.citizencorps.gov/cert/">The Community Emergency Response Team.</a><br /><br />But that&rsquo;s not the only group George is involved in.<br /><br /><strong>Training others</strong><br /><br />George and two friends teach others how to prepare. On a wintery evening, 17 people joined them at a public library in Lake Zurich, Illinois. They were your typical suburban residents: engineers, business owners, stay at home moms, accountants, former police and firefighters.<br /><br />Preppers get together for regular training sessions, including some with their children. After all, the entire family needs to be prepared.<br /><br />This group discussed ways to communicate if cell towers are down, electricity goes out and wi-fi dies. They&#39;d use HAM radio, smoke signals or even carrier pigeons. They sound rational, engaged and informed. &nbsp;<br /><br />Someone said that we need guns to protect ourselves during disasters because &ldquo;People normally, just aren&rsquo;t nice to each other.&rdquo;</p><p>That&rsquo;s what Dan Shielding worries about.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F78408598&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Dan drove from downtown Chicago to learn more from George about prepping.</p><p>&ldquo;You see a lot of events that happened in history that are just horrific. There are people who are not nice and people who become desperate and do desperate things,&rdquo; Dan said.<br /><br />Prepping was a passing interest, but when his child was born, it became a priority.<br /><br />He tears up when he hears about a child getting hurt. It makes him think of his own daughter, 2-year-old Xitlali.<br /><br />Prepping all of a sudden is a necessity because Dan says he wants to make sure that if anything bad happens, his family can have a better chance of coming through unscathed.<br /><br />Dan thinks the key to this is a gun. And so he&rsquo;s out to get one.</p><p>&ldquo;If anyone knows anything about prepping, they probably also know we have guns. If you&rsquo;re going to break into someone&rsquo;s house, the last person you&rsquo;d choose would be a prepper,&rdquo; he said.</p><p><strong>Getting ready</strong></p><p>Dan and his wife Maribel are selling their one-bedroom loft near Chicago&rsquo;s Union Station. Dan wants to move to a gun-friendly place. They&rsquo;re also running out of room.<br /><br />A large bug-out bag sits near the door. There are also stockpiles of water under the bed. The cupboards are packed with cans.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Dan%20has%20over%20100%20emergency%20items%20in%20this%20belt.%20He%20carries%20it%20with%20him%20everywhere%2C%20everyday.JPG" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: right;" title=" Dan has over 100 emergency items in this belt. He carries it with him everywhere, everyday. (Aurora Aguilar)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Dan is an extremely organized prepper. He keeps excel spreadsheets of all the items in his bug-out bags and a worry list: a list of potential disasters and how to deal with them. The spreadsheets are over 200 lines long.</div><p>Dan learned something about self-reliance as a boy scout in Wisconsin. He came to Chicago after graduating from Johns Hopkins University and has been running a business out of his loft nearly 10 years.<br /><br />Back then, it seemed like a good idea for a single man looking for a woman to marry to have a bachelor pad in the city, close to nightlife.<br /><br />At six feet, four inches tall, this former competitive swimmer never really worried about safety in the city. A few years ago, when a guy on the street asked if he wanted to buy a gun, he didn&#39;t even flinch.<br /><br />But, now, he worries about being so close to Willis Tower. A terrorist attack, after all, is a real possibility and it&rsquo;s one he doesn&#39;t take lightly.<br /><br />Dan&#39;s prepared for many possible bad scenarios: crippling snow storms, inflation, an increasingly authoritarian government.<br /><br />His wife Maribel says he worries too much. She&rsquo;d always known him to be organized, but it surprised her to see him counting cans in the cupboards and telling her he&rsquo;d been buying water and storing it under the bed.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Dan%20keeps%20spreadsheets%20of%20the%20items%20in%20his%20bug-out%20bags%2C%20the%20types%20of%20disasters%20he%20thinks%20could%20happen%20and%20how%20he%20would%20deal%20with%20them.JPG" style="float: left; height: 225px; width: 300px;" title=" Dan keeps spreadsheets of the items in his bug-out bags, the types of disasters he thinks could happen and how he would deal with them. (Aurora Aguilar)" /></div><p>&ldquo;Okaaaaaaaaaaay,&rdquo; Maribel said she recalls thinking.<br /><br />She appreciates his concern but also wonders if prepping puts a target on her family&rsquo;s back.<br /><br />Maribel knows there are not a lot of people like Dan and in the case of an emergency, worries people will come and take their stuff.<br /><br />&ldquo;That would put us more in danger. I don&rsquo;t know, It&rsquo;s something that maybe he should consider,&rdquo; Maribel said.<br /><br />Like most things, Dan has. His prepping activity has ramped up in the past few months. It&rsquo;s the safety of his family that has him wanting a gun, needing a gun, he says. But he wants to buy a good, reliable firearm that he thinks would cost between $400 and $1,000.</p><p>He took a couple of classes and got his Firearms Owners ID Card to get ready to buy. But when he started adding the costs of classes, licenses and other fees, it became too expensive, especially with a new baby. Recently, though, he started thinking it was time.<br /><br />Dan thinks the window for owning a gun is closing because of local and federal laws. Like many preppers, he worries the government will take away the right to bear arms.<br /><br />According to Dan, that&rsquo;s the only way he could protect his family if someone came into their home.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/DanShieldingWithDaughter.jpg" style="float: right; height: 191px; width: 300px;" title="Dan wants to prepare to keep his daughter, Xitlali, safe. (Dan Shielding) " /></div></div><p>Maribel said she doesn&rsquo;t mind the thought of a gun locked in a safe in the house. That&rsquo;s Dan&rsquo;s plan. Problem is; If he could, in the city of Chicago, Dan would carry a gun at all times.<br /><br />She doesn&rsquo;t agree with that. She looks down and pulls her sweater over her hands. Her black hair covers her eyes.<br /><br />While sitting on the couch one evening, Xitlali playing on her IPad between them, Maribel questions Dan about how safe he&rsquo;ll be with the gun.<br /><br />She wondered if he&rsquo;d have a greater temptation to pull a gun on someone. If merely bumping into someone would be perceived as an aggressive move that Dan would respond to by pulling out his gun.<br /><br />He looked taken aback.<br /><br />Dan said he&rsquo;s very serious about handling a gun safely.<br /><br />&ldquo;Having a gun is a humongous responsibility. You&rsquo;re taught not to even put your finger on the trigger unless you&rsquo;re willing to destroy something. They drill that into your brain. Handle this thing as if it&rsquo;s always loaded,&rdquo; Dan said.<br /><br />He looked worried that he&rsquo;s upset Maribel.<br /><br />&ldquo;I would be sending myself to prison if I did that. That&rsquo;s definitely not something I want to do,&rdquo; Dan said.<br /><br /><strong>Shopping for a gun</strong><br /><br />He&#39;s dropping off Xitlali at her grandmother&rsquo;s before heading to the gun store and range to try some on for size. Dan&rsquo;s been to one in Lyons before. He likes their selection of guns.<br /><br />He&rsquo;s made a new spreadsheet that&rsquo;s got every single statistic and specification of the guns he&rsquo;d like to own.&nbsp;He&rsquo;s also interested in reasonably priced ammo.<br /><br />Preppers go through a lot of ammo because many practice shooting at least once a week. They also see ammo as an investment. They believe people will need ammo if there&rsquo;s a catastrophe.<br /><br />When he arrived at the gun shop on this Friday morning, it&rsquo;s packed. There are people of all ages, all ethnicities. There was an hour-long wait for the range.<br /><br />The owner said business had never been better.<br /><br />Before he started shooting, Dan looked at the different guns. His large hands shook a little.<br /><br />But after about 40 rounds on the range, he became a pro. One of the range workers commented on his precision.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="338" mozallowfullscreen="" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/59083607?byline=0" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="600"></iframe></p><p>Dan&rsquo;s still looking for the perfect handgun, so he drives to another store in Lombard, Illinois.</p><p>He pulled out his excel sheet with all of the specs he wanted to compare. Dan told the store employee that he&rsquo;s looking for a small gun, preferably a 9MM because it&rsquo;s the cheapest in terms of self-defense ammo.<br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;m going to be practicing a lot so I&rsquo;ll be using a lot of ammo,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />The salesman explained that each gun has different characteristics. The way it fits in hand, weight and how much it recoils. The guy renting the guns warns about the drawbacks to smaller, less visible guns. They aren&rsquo;t as accurate.<br /><br />Dan picked out a Beretta Nano 9MM.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">In a booth about three feet wide and seven feet long. Dan loaded his magazine. It&rsquo;s a 7 capacity. Smaller than he&rsquo;d like. Hot brass casings fall all around him as he went through his rounds.</div><p><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Dan%20believes%20in%20maintaining%20his%20right%20to%20bear%20arms.JPG" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: left;" title=" Dan believes in maintaining his right to bear arms. (Aurora Aguilar)" />In the past, he&#39;s gotten a casing stuck between his temple and his eye protection.<br /><br />He was okay with the Beretta. It&rsquo;s not too comfortable in his hand, he said.<br /><br />In the end, he didn&#39;t buy any gun. He wanted to compare some of specs he&rsquo;s written in his excel sheets. But he was practically giddy when we leave the range. Dan claims to not be emotional, that he was just thinking methodically about what&rsquo;s best for him, for his family.<br /><br />This might be the gun he passes along to his daughter. He wants her to be armed at all times as well, when she grows up.<br /><br />He said he&rsquo;s going to buy a gun in the next few weeks.<br /><br />&ldquo;I will be acting as a good husband and good father and it will be a great feeling when I get the gun,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />Because despite all of his preparedness, Dan still worries about the possibility of his family being victims and he wants to be the one defending their lives.</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 06 Feb 2013 15:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/preppers-guns-are-most-important-tool-preparing-end-civilization-105386 Urban and rural views on guns not so far apart in Illinois? http://www.wbez.org/news/urban-and-rural-views-guns-not-so-far-apart-illinois-105369 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/guns2.jpg" alt="" /><p><div class="image-insert-image "><span id="internal-source-marker_0.4346302948896569"><object height="425" width="620"><param name="flashvars" value="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157632703420590%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157632703420590%2F&amp;set_id=72157632703420590&amp;jump_to=" /><param name="movie" value="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157632703420590%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157632703420590%2F&amp;set_id=72157632703420590&amp;jump_to=" height="425" src="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="620"></embed></object></span><p><span id="internal-source-marker_0.4346302948896569"><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F78034106" width="100%"></iframe></span></p><p>Bright, florescent orange discs, about six inches in diameter, float like Frisbees 20 feet above the ground until Don Krietemeyer and his friends fire their shotguns and the clay saucers crumble to the ground.</p><p>The gunshots echo around the landscape and small orange bits litter the clearing where the Effingham County Sportsmans&#39; Club has its skeet shooting course. Krietemeyer and his friends actually seem to enjoy it more when they miss because that&rsquo;s when the friendly ribbing can begin.</p><p>After shooting, Krietemeyer leads the group to a little shed explaining, &ldquo;We got a wood stove in here. We can stay here and stay pretty warm.&rdquo;</p><p>Effingham is a town of 12,000 people, about three hours south of Chicago, and when it comes to gun violence and proposals to ban guns, you hear a common refrain here that Krietemeyer echos: &ldquo;It wasn&rsquo;t the gun it was the guy behind it.&rdquo;</p><p>That&rsquo;s a variation of the &ldquo;Guns don&rsquo;t kill people. People kill people&rdquo; cliché that can sound a little flippant when we&rsquo;re talking about kids dying, but it&rsquo;s a saying that&rsquo;s rooted deeply in the experience of people here.</p><p>Fact one: It&rsquo;s hard to find people in Effingham who don&rsquo;t own guns.</p><p>&ldquo;If I was betting I would guess, out of every hundred houses I&rsquo;d say probably 90 to 94 of &#39;em have a gun in the house,&rdquo; said Krietemeyer.</p><p>Fact two: Despite the high level of gun ownership, there aren&rsquo;t problems with gun violence in Effingham - it&rsquo;s the reason people here are adamant that gun violence is about something besides guns. But that doesn&rsquo;t mean these gun owners don&rsquo;t back some of the so-called &ldquo;common sense&rdquo; gun laws.</p><p>I talked to dozens and dozens of gun owners in Effingham. I did run into a couple of rabidly pro-gun people who just wanted to go on a little tirade on my microphone and then walk away. But among the gun owners who were willing to discuss the issue, without exception, every one supports thorough background checks.</p><p>And everyone I asked agreed with Chicago&rsquo;s police superintendent that there should be a law requiring people to report lost or stolen guns.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t understand why anybody who has a gun that was stolen would not report it unless they themselves are part of the criminal element,&rdquo; said Clarence Funneman. Funneman is one of the gun owners I met who makes me think the divide might not be so great between Chicagoans and gun owners in rural parts of the state when it comes to gun laws&mdash;at least some gun laws. But when it comes to banning assault rifles?</p><p>Well, that gets tricky. Many of the thoughtful gun owners I talked to oppose an assault weapons ban. I asked Funneman to explain because he&rsquo;s a bit of an expert. He and his wife Lydia own a gun store, Funneman Frontier Arms. The store itself is a simple shed they built beside their house out in the country.</p><p>&ldquo;I have a 16 by 32 building. As you can see it&rsquo;s packed full,&rdquo; said Funneman on the day I visited. There are dozens of rifles leaning against the wall behind the counter, rifles leaning against the back of the counter, rifles on the counter, a few clusters leaning against the front of the counter.</p><p>Funneman says he and most of his customers oppose a ban on assault rifles and high capacity magazines. He says people who think common sense requires a ban on assault weapons are simply ignorant about guns and they don&rsquo;t actually know what they&rsquo;re talking about.</p><p>&ldquo;They are saying assault style, what looks like an assault rifle is an assault rifle. That&rsquo;s not true. It&rsquo;s just, it&rsquo;s not an assault rifle,&rdquo; said Funneman. For Funneman, the important distinction is between automatic and semi-automatic firearms.</p><p>A fully automatic firearm is one where you hold down the trigger and bullets keep coming out until you release the trigger or you&rsquo;re out of bullets, and those guns are already banned by federal law. Semi-automatic rifles on the other hand are very common. They automatically reload another bullet into the chamber but they require you to pull the trigger for each bullet. Funneman picks up a very average-looking rifle from behind him.</p><p>&ldquo;This is a semi-automatic 22 that holds just as many as what a assault-style rifle would hold,&rdquo; he said. He picks up another rifle but it&rsquo;s green and has a rectangular opening on top for a magazine.</p><p>&ldquo;This is what they used in World War II. Load it from the top. They had bandoliers with 8-round magazines. These people that shot these were just as efficient as what people who have AR-15&rsquo;s are now,&rdquo; said Funneman. Funneman says the label &lsquo;assault rifle&rsquo; sounds bad and they look intimidating but they aren&rsquo;t that different from other rifles.</p><p>So he says you could ban them, but that wouldn&rsquo;t be an effective way to tamp down gun violence because there are lots of other semi-automatic rifles that could be just as deadly as an assault rifle. And for many gun rights advocates, banning any gun is a slippery slope. It&rsquo;s an argument I hear from a lot of people at Neimerg&rsquo;s, a popular and moderately priced restaurant/coffee shop/bakery/bar where Ray Foster and his wife just had dinner.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s all garbage,&rdquo; said Foster. &quot;They just wanting to take our guns away from us completely &#39;cause they&rsquo;ll start with the AR-15&rsquo;s, and then they&rsquo;re going to go for the pistols that hold more than seven rounds and then eventually they&rsquo;ll have all our guns.&rdquo;</p><p>That can sound like an overly conspiratorial viewpoint unless you think, like many do, that the line dividing assault rifles from other rifles is not so clear. But assault rifles are expensive, so a number of gun owners here are somewhat indifferent on an assault rifle ban because they wouldn&rsquo;t be affected anyway.</p><p>Not so for Brandon Hutchens and Tyler Conner. The two men in their early 20s sit chatting after dinner. They both own AR-15&rsquo;s, assault rifles. Conner got his as a Christmas present from his parents his sophomore year of high school. He says he uses it for target practice and hunting coyotes (pronounced down here ky-oats).</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s reliable. It&rsquo;s easy. You don&rsquo;t have to clean it all the time and it&rsquo;s just an easy gun to have. I&rsquo;ve had mine for six years now and shot several thousand rounds of ammunition through it and it&rsquo;s never hung up one time,&rdquo; said Conner. Conner&rsquo;s friend Brandon Hutchens says in the wake of a tragedy like the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook elementary school in December people want solutions.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody&rsquo;s looking to find something easy to point finger at,&rdquo; he said. Hutchens says proposing gun laws is easy and it makes lawmakers look good and it makes some of the public feel good, but he thinks those laws won&rsquo;t be effective. He says lawmakers aren&rsquo;t proposing solutions that will seriously help because those solutions &ndash; like strengthening families and schools, or addressing a culture of violence &ndash; those issues are complicated compared to simply focusing on a few new gun laws.</p><p>A lot of other people I talk to mention these persistent social issues, people like Bill Hartrich.</p><p>&ldquo;I think anybody should have whatever they want. We&rsquo;re looking at the wrong thing. We need to be talking about violence in movies, violence videos, and mental health.&rdquo;</p><p>A lot of gun owners and gun rights supporters down in Effingham think that rather than banning certain guns, the government should be banning violent video games. But that of course would be an infringement of the constitutional right to free speech, and Americans tend to be very protective of their constitutional rights.</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 05 Feb 2013 20:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/urban-and-rural-views-guns-not-so-far-apart-illinois-105369