by Mark Freburg
When most of us start acquiring guns we probably don't think about what kind of gun owner we are at that point—collector, shooter, trader, et cetera. Usually, we get our first gun and simply use and enjoy it. In fact we may acquire many guns before we even start to think about where we are going with our “collection,” whatever it may be. And some of us may never think about the bunch of guns we may own. And I don't think there is anything wrong with that. It probably shows that you have a restful mind and don't concern yourself with the unimportant things in life.
Then there are those of us who are bound and determined to classify ourselves and even others around us. Are we truly a Gun Collector? What is a gun collector? Is a collector one who only specializes in acquiring very specific guns, such as all variations of pre-'64 Winchester Model 70 rifles, or Japanese Nambu pistols, or all Finnish weapons from WWII? Does the collection need to be highbrow? A collection of black powder Colts? Or can it be lowbrow? A collection of early 20th Century Ruby pistols? I tend to think if you specialize in anything you are a collector, but not everyone agrees.
What if you just like to acquire guns, any guns? I have friends and family that just like to do that, and they don't sell anything. Yet they don't necessarily have a specific collecting niche. Can we still call them a gun collector? Hmm. If someone collected porcelain elephants or rubber bands or embroidered throw pillows, regardless of who made them or the type, we'd probably say they collected porcelain elephants or rubber bands or embroidered throw pillows. So one could say that anyone who acquires guns and never parts with them is a gun collector, too. But you'll get an argument there, because many collectors believe that to be a true collector you must specialize.
The argument is that without a specialty, one is just an Amasser. So, we have a new category. Is it bad to be an amasser? I don't know why it would be as long as you have the space and the money. I think that a lot of us who love guns would love to be true amassers, and not have to ever get rid of anything in order to get something else. But that is the nature of life, and especially the life of the gun hobbyist, or any hobbyist. If you want something new, you often need to trade in something old in order to pay for the something new.
A third category arises—the Buyer and Seller. Many folks find themselves in this category, and truly, this isn't a bad category in which to find one oneself. If you buy and sell wisely over time, you can experience a wide variety of firearms, often a much greater variety than the amasser, who can only experience the guns he can afford at any given time. Remember, he never sells anything, so his guns don't work for him. The buyer and seller type can consider his guns on a long term lease, if you will. Oh, this guy or gal doesn't let everything go, there will be some favorites that are “keepers,” but there will also be many guns that the buyer and seller is simply curious about, and wants to experience, for a month or a year or five years, and then is willing to let go when something new and more interesting comes along. It's not a bad niche'.
There are some other types of gun owners as well. Some are probably subsets of the above. There is the Basic Battery type. The Basic Battery type acquires guns for specific purposes. If he is a hunter, he has his duck gun, his upland bird gun, his small game rifle, his big game rifle. If he is a competitor he has his skeet gun, his trap gun, his clays gun—or given another sport, his single-action revolvers, his double-barrel, his lever-action. And so on. If he is defense-oriented he has his carry or home defense gun, a defensive shotgun, probably a defensive carbine or rifle, a back-up pistol. These “batteries” will often be changed and updated as his knowledge, needs, and wants are constantly updated. I suppose we could call the Basic Battery type a subset of the Buyer & Seller, but he is much more focused than the average Buyer and Seller, due to viewing his firearms as purposeful “batteries.”
There is also the Very Casual Gun Owner. This is the guy or gal who usually only owns one, possibly two guns. They are really not gun people in the same way that members of the other groups are gun people. Guns are not a hobby for them. The VCGO doesn't think about guns all that often, rarely stops by the gun shops, doesn't read gun magazines, maybe doesn't belong to the NRA, and thinks other gun owners who own, say, twenty guns are a bit nutty. He or she probably owns his gun(s) for self-defense, but is not rabid about it. Will he or she buy more guns? Doubtful.
One more category of gun owner is the Wackadoodle, who either buys guns and buries them in the backyard, sealed in mortar tubes so he'll have them when the Zombie Apocalypse occurs, as well as the hard core survivalist who spends all his time, money, and effort preparing for The End to the extent that he has no time whatsoever to enjoy The Now. I don't want to waste any more words on the Wackadoodles. I find them generally harmless but I don't want to spend time talking with them or listening to them.
My friend Jerry Webb coined a term which fits many of us: GunGeek. What's a GunGeek? A GunGeek is someone who is hard to categorize--someone who simply loves guns, owns guns, shoots guns, talks guns, knows guns, and geeks out on guns. I believe that no matter which of the above categories you might find yourself, there is a good chance you are also a GunGeek.
So--have you ever thought about it? What are you? Are you a Gun Collector? Are you an Amasser? Are you a Buyer and Seller? Are you the Basic Battery type? Or are you just the Very Casual Gun Owner? You're not a Wackadoodle, are you? I know...you're just a GunGeek.
Do you have some other categories that I may have missed altogether? If so, post on the forum's message board—I'd love to hear your ideas.
Or is this all just about the silliest excuse for twelve paragraphs you've ever had the unfortunate experience to read?