Gun School

How many combat shotguns are there under my bed? Thanks to new laws, none of your beeswax.

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“Six, seven, eight, nine … where’s number ten? Jesus Christ.” Tony, our bearded Italian-Canadian instructor, stomps past us and out the door. Through the mangled venetian blinds, we see him yelling across the parking lot. He stomps back inside. “Smoking in his car. Unreal.”

Colin, early 50s, thinning hair, in red lumberjack flannel, wanders in with glazed eyes. He’s been baked for two days. “Gosh, sorry fellas. I uh … didn’t … well, sorry.” He’s holding a 1-litre fruit smoothie. Tony is on the other side of the room, holding the door to the range open. “Come on guys, let’s go!” On the bench is a row of shiny black handguns, waiting for us.

Welcome to gun school.

What’s your name and why do you want a firearms license?

That’s the first question they ask at the Canadian Firearms Academy (“Academy” is somewhat grandiose for a two-room rental unit in a central Surrey strip mall, but hey, that’s what it says on the printout taped to the door). Why are we here?

One guy has a police officer son, and would like to bond more as a family.

Another guy has an uncontrollable jitter and a strong desire to go hunting.

Another guy, having stepped out of a brand-new black BMW, expresses in precise, Korean-accented English his interest in target practice.

Another guy (yes, it’s all guys) says from under his white toothbrush moustache: “My name is Bob. Because it’s my right!”

My own reasons are a blend of the above. Certainly I want to harvest my own meat. I’d rather shoot an animal and watch it die on the ground than eat drive-thru burgers. Of course it’s fun to shoot targets, too. But keep asking and you might get an answer like Bob’s. It’s my right. Why shouldn’t I? Luckily, there’s never been a better time to be a Canadian gun owner.

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