Guns and the States. I could buy an assault rifle – but not a handgun – in that crazy country.

The National Rifle Association. A thoroughly despicable organisation

Guns and America. It’s a kind of love affair.

Right now there’s lot of angst among the owners of the 400 million or so guns legally held in the United States.

Why? Because New York’s Attorney General is taking action against the National Rifle Association – because of its corruption. She’s trying to close it down.

Not surprisingly, the idiot Trump is outraged. It’s all Joe Biden’s fault. He’s against guns and he’s against God, Trump says clearly not quite getting the God thing.
I was sent on assignment to the States back in the mid eighties, I thought I’d have a closer look at what seemed to me, to be American’s obsession with guns.

I as traipsing around Florida doing this and that with our photographer. Mainly, we were interviewing Irish Americans and putting together stories with an Irish twist.

But I kept thinking about guns and why so many Americans had a love affair with them

Eventually I linked up with an Irish American cop in Miami. He was just Irish enough to agree to a request from his boss to help me.

We did a tour of the city. And he showed me were so and so had been shot and where Officer something or other had taken out a “perp” and various other locations which were marked, in his memory, by the sound of gunfire.

I asked him how easy it would be for me to buy a gun.

So he suggested we find out.

He took me to a Tamiami Gun Store and had a quiet word with the owner, someone he clearly knew.

I was to pretend to buy a gun and the shop owner was willing to play along.
The cop told me to pick up a rifle and some ammunition and bring it to the counter.

So I did. The cost of the rifle and a couple of boxes of ammunition was around $200.
“Here,” said the gun store keeper pushing an official looking form towards me, ‘read this and sign it.”

It was a document testifying that I had no criminal convictions, was an American citizen, did not suffer from mental health difficulties and so on.
I signed it.

“What if I’m lying?” I asked the gun store owner. “Then you’re in trouble, not me,” he said.
And he invited me to pay him and take the gun and ammunition with me.

“Now,” said my new policeman friend, “pick a handgun and some ammo for yourself.”
So I did. I picked up a handgun and ammunition and went through the same routine.

I put them on the counter. He told me the cost. He handed me the form which I duly signed.
“Come back tomorrow and I’ll give you gun and your ammo,” said the gun store keeper.
I didn’t fully understand.

“Why can’t I take it with me now?” I asked.

There was a 24 hour cooling off period, the cop interjected.

“Too many Marias killing too many Josés.”

The authorities in Florida apparently believed that handguns which were used in the majority of domestic gun crime. Hence the cooling off period for handguns but not for rifles.

Well, I’m sure it made sense to them.

But I could only shake my head and wonder how these people managed to dress themselves in the morning.


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