By Jeffrey E. Folloder, Executive Director, NFATCA
Most of the "wisdom" that I have amassed over the years has been acquired in combat. Not the military kind, of course, but rather the combat of resistance. Folks who knew better tried very diligently to pass on some nugget of truth, some sage advice, to me, only to endure my strident protest. It's not that I didn't want to learn; I did. It's that I thought I already knew the answers. (All of you on the north side of 50 can wipe the smiles off of your faces, please.) The world of firearms taught me that answers are not always what they seem.
"So, just how many guns do you own?" It was, what I thought to be, a very simple and straightforward question. And I assumed that everyone who purchased any number of firearms would know the exact answer.
"Well, that would depend on who you ask."
"I thought I was asking you..."
"How about I give you the answer that I give my nosy relatives? I've got one more than I need and one less than I want." With that he went to running his CLP through a folded square of cheesecloth.
It took me years to understand the wisdom of his answer. And while I have come to accept that answer as Gospel, I have never presumed to take the response as my own. The old codger's cagey answer spurred me on to actually apply some thought to the concept of need and want and the perceptions of others in relationship to my desires. To put it bluntly, I do believe that everything can be neatly divided into needs and wants. When your significant other derides your recent acquisition of a Stoner 63 with "Do you really need ANOTHER gun?" your response should promptly be "Of course not." Very few people have true need for this weapon, outside of the Knight family. "I wanted it. So I bought it."
Let's be crystal clear here. I am not proposing, and the NFATCA is not proposing, a fool-proof strategy for domestic harmony in the face of firearms acquisition. You are on your own for charting your course through that! What I am suggesting is that you take a rational approach with your own justifications by accepting that there is a difference between need and want and that understanding this difference is a key to enlightenment and peace. You need shelter. You need food. You need clothing (and judging by what some of you wear on the range, that is an immediate need!). Your kids may need to get to school, your church may need a new roof and your truck may need a new water pump. You need a gun or two for self defense and recreation. Okay, each of the folks living with you need a couple, too, because you might be at the range with yours and you never know... and, of course, you need to select those additional weapons using a set of very detailed, very well considered criteria. Everything else is a want. Period.
For the sake of argument, I am going to assume that you already have the fundamental knowledge that you should always endeavor to take care of the needs first. That will leave the rest of the world of shimmering wants open for your consideration. And I will take you back to the Fall, 2011 Knob Creek Show and Shoot. The NFATCA President, John Brown, came walking back to our membership tables with a long, shop worn box under his arm and smile on his face that most would associate with matters of high school shenanigans.
Now I know that John's ability to take care of his wants has a bit more latitude than mine. But I also know that I can easily live vicariously through his acquisitions when they are beyond my reach. Still, I ventured a "So... What's in the box?"
And with that John opened the box and started showing off what was quite a strange sight. To me it looked like a break action shotgun and I was at a loss to understand why such a simple thing could elicit such an energetic response. And then I looked at the bore. A really big bore. As in a bore that looked like it was at least an inch in diameter (it was). "All right... What in the hell is this?"
John asked me if I had one of the old HK flare pistols. I do and then the light bulb went off. Or, rather, the flare went off. John started describing the CZ flare rifle he had just snagged and how it could throw those 26.5mm flares a heckuva lot further that my puny pistol. He also took me over to a surplus ammo vendor and pointed to the 26.5mm parachute illuminator flares and pronounced that these completed the perfect fashionable accessory for the Fourth of July. I wanted one. And I wanted a bunch of the flares, too. And you know what? It took all of about 116 seconds for me to ask John where the flare rifles were located. It took even less time for me to buy the launcher. There was absolutely no need involved.
I'm not planning on being in a position where having a shoulder fired flare launcher will be integral to my survival. There's no foreseeable situation where I will need to drop in a small canister of magenta smoke at 300 yards. And as hilarious as it might be to see the face of a would-be house burglar confronted with the business end of the CZ model RV 85, it wouldn't be the weapon of choice, so we really have ruled out the whole need thing. I did, however, want it. It's great fun and regularly becomes a "crowd pleaser" when I take it to the range or hog hunting. More importantly, this want did not have any impact upon any of my true needs and so its acquisition was guilt free.
If you will allow an indulgence, I'll tell you how this applies to the NFATCA. Our ability to legally own NFA weapons neatly straddles the fence between need and want. So much so that it is often difficult to divine the presence of the fence. This organization treats its efforts as a need so that you can decide what you want. It really is that simple. Please visit our website at www.nfatca.org and please consider joining us, if you have not done so already.
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