I just became a gun owner. To be precise, a modern gun. I’ve shot historic weapons for more than a decade, you know, the ones with flints and gunpowder.

A real gun, though? I’ve never felt the need. And, after shooting historic weapons all these years, a modern boom-boom stick comes across as much too high tech for my tastes. Stick a shell in it, point and bang. What’s the fun in that?

With a flintlock, you never know if or when the gun will go off. That’s part of the fun. And while modern gun enthusiasts will brag about the firepower and kick their weapons have, their eyes go wide with wonder and delight when they fire off a .60 caliber round with my doglock. Kick? Hells ya!

I know people that own dozens of these new-fangled techno guns. Me, I’ve never really wanted to. In fact, as of today, I have never even shot one. While I’m no peacenik, I tend to leave law enforcement in the hands of professionals, especially since I tend to shoot everyone in a simulation game, friend, foe, family – no matter.

But the earthquake a week or so ago reminded me that the Big One is out there somewhere. Officials say we may have to be on our own for up to two weeks.

True, I could pull out our cannon and the three flintlocks we have around here to protect the family. We have enough powder to mow down a small army – if they are patient enough to wait while we reload them one at a time.

If you haven’t fired a black powder weapon, it isn’t a quick process. You need to pour the measure of powder down the barrel, add some wadding if the ball is much smaller than the bore, and ram the ball down the barrel until it seats snuggly against the powder. But wait, there’s more. Only then do you pull back the hammer. Add powder to the pan, cock the hammer back off safety and BLAM! Hopefully. As I said, more art than science.

I don’t think it’s the optimal defense system to ward off angry hoards who want my food and supplies. In the aftermath of the Big One, people will make do for a couple of days. But once they’ve exhausted all their goodies, they’ll go foraging and that means coming to my house.

When I was in Florida I always had the requisite two weeks of food and water on hand, along with provisions such as a crank emergency radio and flashlights. But in Florida, angry hoards are few and far between, largely because disasters (hurricanes mostly) happen with such frequency that everyone knows the drill. Wait for the storm to pass. Gripe that you have no food and water. Bitch that the AC is out. Rinse and repeat.

But here in Washington, we’re fairly unprepared. We don’t get hurricanes or tornadoes. Just the occasional volcano and earthquake, including the ever-present Big One that is supposed to last 15 minutes or so.

So, it was with a lot of trepidation that I finally broke down and purchased a shotgun. Well, technically my wife Kat bought it. I have stayed true to my promise not to own a weapon. Yes, it’s a fine line in a community property state, but this is my story so I’m going to tell it my way.

We didn’t know where to buy a gun but had seen a Big 5 ad that showed a nice enough looking shotgun on sale for $239, so we headed there to buy a gun. Here we are, two innocents and non-gun owners at the counter, pointing to the gun like two tourists who had never seen the Grand Canyon before.

And here’s where it gets really weird. It seems that you can take a shotgun home with you in Washington State in about 30 minutes time. Some basic paperwork with basic questions (Are you a loyal American? Have you ever tried to overthrow the government?), a quick background check to make sure you’re not a convicted felon, and they hand you the box.

As we waited for Kat’s I.Q. test to be graded (she has not tried to overthrow the government I can safely say), Kat wondered aloud if we had to come back the next day to buy shells, a kind of cooling-off period.

Nope. We bought those too. We laughed to ourselves as the salesman showed us our options. We couldn’t tell one from another. But no matter. Eight bucks later we had enough buckshot to fill up the retreating fannies of 25 angry hoarders.

No test to see if we knew how to work the gun or even load it. Just a quick thank you for your business and we were out the door.

We could have been anyone. We could have been unhappy with our meal service at the Red Robin next door. We could have crazed racist Trumpers. Sure, Kat had to certify she was not mentally ill, but what mentally ill person would ever admit they were, well, mentally ill?

One two-sided form, a check with the government to see if you’ve done time and there you go Mr. Gun Owner, you have exercised your 2nd Amendment right.

Thank god for YouTube. Videos showed me how to load and unload the damned thing. It also showed me how to change the barrel (it comes with two barrels, the reason I am still not sure of) and another video showed me how to take out the wood dowel in it so that it could actually hold more than one shell, which is comes in handy when faced with angry hoards, or so I’m told.

And thanks to Amazon, I can now accessorize it to my heart’s content with all sorts of after-market goodies, including a pink bandolier that holds 25 shells, just in case Kat needs to get her Rambo on in the post-Big One apocalypse.

I won’t feel that need of course. I know how to work it now and it’s safely put away for the day when the angry hoards try to storm my castle.

But truth be told, I will probably give them a good shot or two first with the cannon and the flintlocks. Unleashing the holy hell of black powder is just too irresistible and the element of surprise would be worth it.

I’ll let Kat do the Rambo part. The angry hoard will probably see the pink bandolier with clashing red shells and drop dead on the spot – from laughter.

In the Emerald City, burning the NRA application that came with the gun,

  • Robb