Today is Pistol Patent Day, the anniversary of Samuel Colt’s 1836 patent for the Colt Revolver pistol. Although Colt didn’t actually invent the revolver, his design, which was an adaptation of the revolving flintlock, helped revolutionize the gun industry. A forward thinking inventor and industrialist, he wanted all parts on his guns to be interchangeable and machine-made on an assembly line.
Growing up in suburbia I had mixed feelings about firearms. When I was a very young idealist, I didn’t understand why anyone would want a gun, especially with so many after-school specials warning against the dangers of playing with your parents’ pistol. I viewed them only as a mean toward a violent end. And even though “guns don’t kill people; people kill people,” I’m afraid that far too many of us know someone that may still be alive today if it weren’t for a rifle or a pistol. Unfortunately, this type of weaponry is cold, calculating, and deadly, allowing an offender to perpetrate an act violence without making it personal; I believe that there are people in this world who couldn’t bring themselves to brutally stab another person to death, but could end another human life with the simple act of pulling a trigger.
Still, as I’ve grown older my outlook on firearms has softened. When it comes to gun-related crimes isn’t the real problem the criminal handling the gun? Shouldn’t responsible handlers be allowed to use guns for sport or protection? In a perfect world brimming with brotherly love and peace, guns might not be necessary. But even if this Utopia were possible, as someone who lives in the quasi-country with bears, mountain-lions, copperheads, and even rabid raccoons, I can’t imagine being denied the right to arm myself with protection.
To celebrate the 175th anniversary of patent #138, Chris and I headed to Blue Ridge Arsenal in Chantilly, Virginia. Our friends Ryan and Allison were kind enough to escort us. Ryan was the experienced gunman in our group, having frequented shooting ranges, and even owning his own firearms. With the exception of a few of Chris’s Boy Scout outings, this was the fist time visiting a shooting range for the rest of us. Chris had shot a few times in years past, but his skills were rusty, and Allison and I had never advanced past bee-bee or paintball guns. While we waited for a lane to open up, everyone else remained calm but I was both nervous and excited.