Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Farewell To Arms (or at least to a certain longarm)

In the midst of a heat wave, in the mid summer of this year, I shot for qualification at a range on an island that looked across the bay and and outer counties to the mountainous towers of steel, glass and concrete that are the heart of the city. Though there have been other places, this one has been the one place, where I have qualified the most in over a quarter century. In all that time, while there may have been a rare exception, I cannot recall a single qualification day when I did not shoot a Remington 870 Shotgun. Today, I said farewell to that firearm, it is the first time in memory that I did not shoot one for qualification.

It's not that I have lost any of my faith in this fine weapon as being just that - a fine weapon - nor have I begun to think that it would not be among the best of choices as a primary weapon when on a high risk operation, it is more along the lines that I feel I need to start to wind down in preparation for my retirement. Actually, my decision to turn in the shotgun, is a bit more complicated than that and also has to do with some recent politics in the office that have disenchanted me and therefore had me wondering if it is worth it to me to maintain the additional responsibility of being assigned such a gun. Without me going into the details of the politics, allow me to simply say, I decided that if my agency was not able to overcome the muddled bureaucratic nightmare of indecisive micromanagement and instead show some intelligent decision making ability based upon good old fashioned respect for its workers and the level of responsibility they exhibit with firearms, well then it was time for me to put aside the additional responsibility of carrying this particular gun. No I did not have any type of problem with the gun, nor with it having been issued to me, nor with any use of it; I just want to make that clear. The issue was something different but it was an eye opener and enough to make me realize that under the current administration within my office, I probably would be a fool to continue to maintain the additional responsibility of being issued this gun. So, with a good deal of regret, and not any less of a feeling that I was losing an old friend, I decided I would turn it in this quarter.

I miss it already and it has been only the first qualification day without my shooting it. I can live without it though, without the added responsibility of maintaining it or having to qualify with it and without the bruised shoulder that it causes almost every time I shoot it tactically at the range. I have arthritis and bursitis (and maybe other damage) in my right shoulder and wish I had filed the necessary paperwork to report an injury every time I got a bruise from shooting it (especially since my shoulder has never otherwise been injured that I can remember). That way I would never have to worry about paying for the medical bills for the shoulder but I never did file those forms and if it needs fixing now then I guess I'll have to foot the bills instead of worker's comp. I figured all those bruises on my shoulder, the aches and pains, the soreness were all just part of the job and the responsibility and would all be worth it in the long run should I ever actually have needed to fire the shotgun in defense of myself or another agent on my job. As it is, while I carried it on arrest operations and such many times over the years, and was all to often the first in the door, I never once needed to fire it except at the range. I hope, in the relatively short time I have remaining on my job, I will not find myself in a situation where I need it and do not have it.

It is just that the bureaucracy in my office has become unbearable and finally gotten me to the point where any added responsibility, with little or no respect for it, or appreciation of it, is just not worth it to me - the shotgun being just one example. In addition, as I said above, I need to get into the wind down mode looking toward a not too distant retirement. While I have always welcomed a good deal of additional responsibility on my job, and have volunteered for things beyond the scope of most of my coworkers, extra responsibility at this point is not something I need on my shoulders since it seems to me as if my job is discouraging me from taking it on or continuing it.

Did I mention I miss it already? Farewell old friend.

All the best,
Glenn B