Editor’s note: After the March 24, 2018 March for Our Lives, a member of IEB leadership interviewed an IEB member who is a gun owner and who attended one of the East Bay Marches. What follows is an edited selection of their wide-ranging conversation on guns, gun control legislation, gun ownership, and related subjects. The IEB member has chosen to remain anonymous.
IEB: Why did you want to go to the March for Our Lives? And why did you bring your young son?
Answer: I went to the march (1) to support my fellow IEB members (2) to show young folks that they can lead adults on this issue (3) it was easier just to bring my son due to childcare issues and (4) it’s good for him to see the excitement of older kids on an important issue.
IEB: That doesn’t sound like you felt a particular connection with the subject of the march.
Answer: Not a big connection. I’ve saved my excitement on other issues that Indivisible supports. But being present and showing support was important.
IEB: You’re a gun owner and you’ve told me you support some gun control legislation – do you feel like other gun control supporters do, or could, see you as an ally? Do you think the leaders of the anti-gun violence movement are taking good tactical positions?
Answer: I’m an ally depending on how far they want to go. For example, CA just made it illegal to buy ammunition in the mail. That made me angry. Limiting magazines to 10 rounds is fine. An assault weapons ban is fine. Making it difficult and expensive for lawful gun owners to buy ammo for their legally obtained firearms is not good.
IEB: Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has called for repealing the Second Amendment. What do you think?
Answer: A Constitutional amendment needs two-thirds of both Houses of Congress calling for it, then convening a Constitutional Convention where three-quarters of state legislatures must agree. That’s not going to happen.
IEB: Will you teach your son about guns when he gets to be old enough?
Answer: Only after he’s 18 and if he asks about it. I will teach him about gun safety in a few months, like knowing what to do when you see one: Back away. Don’t touch. Go get an adult right away-preferably, their parent. I’m already teaching him the basics of marksmanship through archery. It’s mostly the same muscle memory.
IEB: Do you ask his friends’ parents if they have guns in the home before you let him go play there? And if you do, how do you ask?
Answer: I actually have several dinners and outings with them. I check them out. I mention my background with the military and weapons. If they don’t offer up, I take it that they don’t have weapons, especially if they have kids and have opportunities to speak up. I’ve told my nearest neighbors that I have a pistol and it’s locked up. We have a lot of play dates with those boys.
IEB: Wow, that’s a lot of work. Has anyone ever said they don’t want their kids coming over to your place after finding out you have weapons, locked up?
IEB: You used to be in the armed services. What kind of gun(s) did you use then, and what kind do you own now? And what do you use them for?
Answer: Let’s talk about my Sig Sauer P229K .40 caliber semiautomatic pistol. I purchased it in 2007 to get extra practice for the US Coast Guard’s pistol range. I was leading maritime law enforcement specialists who were weapons experts. I had to be good with the Sig Sauer to credibly lead them. I’ve fired that weapon tens of thousands of times since then. I’m proficient. I use it only for marksmanship practice. The .40 caliber is the diameter of the bullet. It’s .40” wide. It’s an English measurement as compared to a 9 mm round that is more common. That’s 9 mm in diameter. A gun is a machine. No use keeping it unless you have all the parts to make it function properly. And the training—but that can be subjective. I have my training from the military and that’s my foundation that hasn’t changed that much.
IEB: What kinds of semiautomatic weapons can be converted to fully automatic, and what can’t? Or put another way: why can some weapons be converted and others not, or can any semiautomatic weapon be converted to fully automatic given the right equipment?
Answer: I believe it’s the AR-15 type you can easily convert to auto. Go to the internet and google. Anyone can do it. I could if I wanted to. You can ban things but you can’t ban knowledge.
IEB: You can certainly convert those. I believe you can convert others too. One problem, I know, is that if you ban bump stocks, someone will create a different device … something else you can’t ban is ingenuity.
Answer: You know what the rate of fire could be for full auto? In the hundreds of rounds per minute. Magazine size will take care of that. Keep with 10 round magazines. … magazine change has to happen. So 10 round magazine will take care of that.
IEB: There’s no way that a would-be mass shooter can carry it out with that change?
Answer: No, it would be a lot of magazines. It takes a microsecond to go through a 10 round magazine. Then it takes a second to reload. A microsecond later you have to reload another 10 round magazine which takes another second.
IEB: What do you think of the idea of arming teachers?
Answer: No. It’s a dog whistle for the extremists. Without enough training (100 hours a year at least) anyone with a weapon is a danger to themselves and others. I won’t even go into the dynamics of teachers having guns while other things are going on in a classroom. And they don’t get paid enough—we need to pay our teachers more. Then we can ask them to do more—but not guns.