By Selwyn Harris
Is there a difference between a so-called gun nut and gun enthusiast?
A few local residents who are themselves bona fide gun owners offered their thoughts on the topic — and none consider themselves gun nuts.
They prefer the term “enthusiasts” or “sportsmen.”
Gun owner Jim Mutton said he thinks the moniker gun nut is a derogatory way to describe someone who has a passion for firearms.
“The word ‘nut’ implies crazy, but it doesn’t mean that people we call gun nuts are gun crazy. It depends upon who is calling them that. People who probably don’t like guns too much would call anyone who has a few guns a gun nut. A lot of it depends on the eye of the beholder in a sense. I think it is human nature to collect things. We know people who collect things from figurines to coins and stamps. Does that mean they are a figurine nut? What it comes down to is that I think calling people gun nuts just because they have a number of guns is probably not the correct term,” he said.
Though guns are designed to maim or kill, Mutton believes there are many other reasons why people buy firearms.
“Guns are like a number of other things. There’s certain aesthetic values to someone. They are well made instruments and people have a number of different ones. They’re well machined and I think people collect them sometimes for those very reasons. Of course, some collect them for historical reasons,” he said.
Mutton also said he became a gun enthusiast at an early age and it wasn’t always used for hunting.
“I had one .22 caliber when I was a kid. I was able to go target shooting. Sometimes I would go out and hunt rabbits or something like that. As things progress, you get better and become proud of your skills. When you are able you might get another one. Some of the older guns are now considered works of art. Like I said, it’s a matter of degree where somebody is considered a gun nut because the word nut implies crazy and in that way we all can be considered crazy for collecting something,” he said.
Another local resident, who chose to remain anonymous, also weighed in on the matter by providing an additional term to describe those who collect numerous firearms.
“I consider myself a sportsman. A gun enthusiast is a gun nut but where do you draw the line. The real dichotomy in the firearms industry and what is going on right now is between the sportsman and the gun nuts. It’s like someone who likes to drive 100 miles per hour and someone who likes to drive 120 miles per hour. Sportsmen are not gun nuts and hunters are not gun nuts,” he said.
The sportsman also said that he personally is not in favor of certain firearms presently being sold at most gun shops and shows.
“A gun nut likes AR 15s and other assault style weapons, but I don’t like them because there’s no function for them. They are not good hunting machines. I’m going to go with Obama on this one. If you are at least a decent hunter, you don’t need 20 shots. Usually you need more than one shot. Like most hunters, I load mine with three but a lot of hunters use just one,” he said.
The gun owner also recalled an event where he was forced to actually draw and fire his weapon while inside his home in self-defense.
“It was about three or four years ago. I had a home invasion and I shot him. Had I not shot him, he would have killed my housekeeper, her child, and me. He did not die though,” he said.
Ray “The Flagman” Mielzynski is one of a number of colorful figures about town who often openly carry their firearms. The Flagman also likes to carry copies of the Constitution around, as well, of course, as his trusty American flag.
Mielzynski said he owns a number of different firearms and he, too, does not consider himself a gun nut.
“As far as gun enthusiasts are concerned, I really think it’s such a basic right, it should be part of our nature as self-defense and protecting the people around us. As far as revolvers, I have five and as far as rifles, I have about a half dozen. I only have one AK a Russian or Chinese made assault rifle with a 30-round clip. The AK is for disaster purposes and all of my guns are stored safely. I have a shooting range on my property but I haven’t used it for a few years because people call the sheriff’s department when they hear gunshots,” he said.
Mielzynski spoke about a day where he was able to help defuse a potentially volatile situation just by his mere presence.
“I have never had to draw my guns but one time back in 2002, when I was campaigning for sheriff, I was standing in front of Terrible’s Town at night. I had my flag, the Bill of Rights, and my guns on. A guy pulled up in a car and told his wife who was by the gas pump that he was going to kill her for cheating on him. All I said to him was ‘I’d think twice about that mister.’ He looked and saw my guns and apologized to her and me and got in his car and drove away,” he said.