As I’d alluded to in my discussions of laying down arms and enjoying some live country music, Mrs. Kee and I are on vacation. We rented a nice car (I see why RF drives a Mercedes), took some time off from Austin, and headed over to The Natural State to watch some country shows and eat some good food. Back when I still rode motorcycles, a trip to Hot Springs was my first “big” trip. I was 15 and riding a very well used (and loved) Kawasaki Ninja 250. I learned a lot about decreasing radius turns and conservation of momentum riding that bike up and down Highway 7 between Hot Springs and Southern Missouri . . .
Eventually, I was sidelined by a cupping front tire and had to park it for the rest of the weekend. I still distinctly remember my first inexplicable front end vibration. I also remember our first father son experience that included me pulling over, waiting for my dad to realize I wasn’t behind him anymore, and his panicked, high speed return to find his son on the side of the road with his helmet off. Once he realized that I hadn’t wadded myself up on the side of the road, but had made the decision to pull over for further diagnosis, he calmed down a bit and we talked about our options. I remember even then thinking that if my tire had gone kaput, I would have been a looooong way from help.
As I carved through those same turns a bit older, married, and wrapped in fine German leather, I drifted back to my first real riding experience. Like it was yesterday, I remember how my Arlen Ness mesh jacket scraped up the skin on my forearms. I had a First Gear jacket that was arguably more comfortable, but I remember how damn cool the Arlen Ness was. And since I was around “real” motorcyclists for the first time, and my Ninja 250 was decidedly uncool, I wanted to make sure those guys and gals knew that I was a cool guy. But damn, that jacket was uncomfortable.
I also remember driving through a sudden rain storm later that day. It had been brutally hot. So hot that exceeding the speed limit didn’t help cool me down, though I kept trying in the name of science. And out of nowhere, this storm sprang up and I just kept getting hit with these fat, cold, wet drops until I was thoroughly soaked. It was my first time riding in the rain, and I was on one of the twistiest roads in America. To this day, I’m still surprised I didn’t lowside in one of those beautiful turns.
As happens when I’m lost in my own thoughts, I make a certain kind of face. My wife has been with me long enough to know that face, and stirred me from my thoughts with a “Whatcha thinkin’ about, boss?”
I dutifully relayed the story of my first big ride in Hot Springs to her and smiled thoughtfully while she questioned my sanity (along with parents’) for doing all those things so many years ago. Then she got quiet and contemplative the way I’ve learned she does. And after a few quiet minutes, she asked, “Where do people here go to get groceries?” It seemed that we’d both reached the conclusion that we were far from “things” albeit two different thought processes took us there.
One thing led to another and, as they sometimes do, we got to talking about guns. My wife is a bit of a Johnny-come-lately to firearms, having shot them some before meeting me, but being hurled full-force into the world of boomsticks by taking me on as a partner. Luckily, she’s an independent, open-minded type who believes foremost in liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And armed with just a touch of info, she’s deadly in an argument.
A small sidenote to reinforce that fact: it wasn’t too long after we’d gotten married that we had dinner with another couple. Upon finding out that I wrote for TTAG, the woman in the other couple laid into me about magazine capacity restrictions. This was shortly after Newtown and the nice young woman was going on and on about how all those babies could have been saved if the Newtown shooter had only been armed with ten-round magazines.
She then flipped it over to me, demanding to know how I could be in favor of “high capacity” mags. But before I could get started, my wife frankly explained that as a small-statured lightweight woman, she didn’t stand a chance in hell against a larger physical attacker. And as someone who spent a good deal of her time home alone, she preferred to have the best tools available to her including “as much damn ammo ready to go as I want.”
Firm as she might be in her convictions, she’s a relative neophyte when it comes to discussing the politics of guns. Whereas most readers of TTAG, not to mention the writers, have rehashed the same old arguments time and time again, my wife doesn’t spend her days debating strangers on the internet. So we started a discussion about gun banners.
I told her that being out in that remote part of Arkansas and thinking about the likes of Michael “Big Gulp” Bloomberg made me feel a lot of things. I grew up in a small town. I remember very clearly being Life Flighted at the age of 20 to the nearest hospital after a motorcycle wreck. I took a helicopter ride because the nearest ambulance couldn’t get to my location for 20-25 minutes. Luckily, a chopper was nearby. Police response times weren’t much better. There are simply too many square miles to have two- or three-minute response times like those claimed by the police forces of large urban areas.
That’s why you don’t find a lot of gun banners out in flyover country. The people you find where I grew up tend to be very self reliant. They go to the hospital for broken bones and open wounds that won’t stop bleeding, not for the sniffles. If they call the police, they assume that it will be 25 minutes or more and tool up accordingly.
I guess to your average big city gun banner, my hometown neighbors are too busy clinging to their guns and their religion to see the light. I doubt my hometown neighbors really care about “Big Gulp” or his feelings all that much.
But things that happen on the national stage do affect people in flyover country. A national magazine capacity restriction bill might not move the needle for your average Chicagoan or New Yorker, but it would present a certain moral quandary for the residents of the thousands of small rural towns that dot the United States. The same quandary they’d face if Dianne Feinstein and crew had managed to enact another “assault weapons” ban.
The AR-15 and guns like it, much-reviled by big city gun grabbers, are some of the best means of protection available for the residents of rural areas. Protection against both two- and four-legged critters. Keen observers might notice that Arkansas, like a lot of rural states, has had a bit of a problem with meth. I don’t believe it’s much of a stretch to imagine that a roaming trio of tweakers, emboldened by a lack of law enforcement in the area, might find, for instance, an elderly couple with some cash and jewelry an easy target.
A national ban on America’s most popular rifle or magazines that hold more than ten rounds is sure to disproportionately affect those out here in flyover country. I’m a pragmatist on the issue. I live in a big city, with low rates of crime, great neighbors, and fast police response times. While I’d certainly consider myself hobbled by having to use something other than an AR-15 with a 30-round magazine to defend my castle, and I’d fight with everything I had and I’d make do. And given the aforementioned factors, the odds are likely that I’ll never have to write a follow-up about how wrong (or right) I was.
But the same doesn’t apply for the residents of rural Arkansas, Montana, Texas, Idaho, etc. A national ban on the best tools for the job forces the aforementioned residents to make a decision between giving up those tools or committing one or more felonies.
While the waters may be calm at the moment as it relates to federal gun control bans, magazines capacity restrictions, and so on, they will inevitably come up again. And instead of trying to fight their hysterical screaming with facts and figures, I’ll remind them of the Korean shopkeepers who protected their property during the LA riots. And the residents along Hwy 7 in rural Arkansas.