I am a pretty good shot.
The NRA scares the hell out of me, and I scare them. The NRA is nuts, with their scare tactics that any restriction on guns sales is the first step to the government coming door to door to confiscating your guns. It ain't going to happen. They don't believe I can exist, I am moderately liberal gay man and I own four guns. I have never harmed a living thing with a gun. I grew up with guns around the house, my grandfather, father and oldest brother all hunted. From an early age I was taught to respect guns and to keep them safe. When I was a teenager my grandparents gave me a semi-automatic rifle. It has a high capacity magazine, it would fit some descriptions of an assault rifle, but it does not look like one. The 20+ round magazine was so my grandfather could hunt rabbits all day without needing to reload. It is nice on the range, a lot less reloading. I have fired thousands of rounds of target practice with it (probably the reason my hearing is fading, in the 1970's no one thought of hearing protection - my ears would ring for a couple of hours when I came in from the back yard.) Yes, target practice was in the back yard, I grew up in the country.
In my 40's I developed an interest in target shooting with handguns. It is fun. My father gave me his Colt revolver, it has been in the house since I was three. I have since bought two semi automatic pistols and a semi automatic shotgun. Why semi automatics? They are the easiest and in some ways most fun to shoot. The higher capacity means less stopping to reload. The changeable magazines allow me to load all at once, and shoot for a couple of minutes before stopping to load magazines. When I bought one of them I could only get a 10 round clip, the next year I could buy 17 round clips for it - and I did.
Should everyone have a gun? No. We have people living in our society who are a danger to themselves and others. Persons with mental illness and substance abuse, or people with a history of violent behavior should not have access to guns. I control access to my guns carefully. When I talk to professionals about persons developing dementia, I tell them to get the guns and other weapons out of the house. It is rare, but changes in mind and memory can lead to tragic results. Children shouldn't have access to guns, teenagers only with appropriate training and supervision (I had little supervision as a teenager.)
Mental illness and substance abuse are included in the national background check system for buying a gun through a licensed firearms dealer. If you check the box and self identify you are turned down. Reports of mental illness and substance abuse by professionals into the database are rare. The advocacy systems have fought mandatory reporting of serious mental illness and uncontrolled addiction into the national reporting data bases. Very few states collect and report the data, and even fewer mental health professionals report it. The argument is that requiring reporting is a breach of confidentiality and will discourage people from seeking help. That may be true, but it needs to be balanced against public safety and even the risk of harm to the patient. Notice how many mass shooters, off themselves after taking out a classroom full of bystanders. I am not a fan of the nanny state trying to protect us from ourselves, but when professionals know that someone might be a danger, they should report. We require eye care professionals to report people who are unsafe to drive. Why not require professionals who believe someone might be unsafe to shoot?
I am not really concerned about "closing the gun show loop-hole." The vast majority of private gun transfers are not at gun shows and the vast majority of sales at gun shows are by licensed firearms dealers who must run the background check on every buyer. There are hundreds of millions of guns in private ownership in the United States, it is a virtually impossible market to police. The gun show loophole is political rhetoric. I am always reminded that the kid who killed his mother, school children and teachers, didn't own a gun, he used his mother's and she knew he was dangerous, but still allowed him access to guns. How tragic, lock them up, keep them out of the hands of crazy people.
You shouldn't own a gun if you don't know how it works, or are afraid of it. I know people who own loaded guns, and have never fired one. I can think of few things more dangerous, in a crisis, it is not going to protect you if you don't know how it works, and if you have never fired it, you don't know how. Is it single action or double action? Is it cocked? Is the safety on or off? If you don't know these things, find someone who does, or get rid of it. I hired a private instructor when I started shooting handguns. It was money well spent. Most professional ranges offer this service.
I know people who own guns and are terrified of them. They simply shouldn't own guns. I know how mine work, I am not afraid of them. I would have to have my back against the wall with it being me the criminal getting ready to die before I would pull the trigger, but I could if I needed to.
Oh and ammunition is much cheaper in quantity. Don't look at high volume ammunition purchases as a sign of something sinister. 500 to 1000 rounds at a time is a normal purchase unless you want to pay top retail price. For my 22's, a box of 550 is about the same cost as two boxes of 50, for the 9mm, I can buy 1,000 rounds from a large volume dealer for about half the price of buying 50 rounds at a time. I can easily go through 200 rounds an hour in a good range. If you want to get good, you need to shoot 100 rounds at a session, 2 or 3 times a week.
Post script: I wrote this last Saturday evening, on Sunday morning the following story appeared in the Washington Post "Most gun owners support restrictions. Why aren’t their voices heard?" http://wpo.st/2KCg0