My move to the Rebel Colonies, Pt.2: Living in America and buying my first handgun
Part I of this series, "Living in England disarmed", is available here.
By Ray Butler
In 2002, after marrying a lovely American lady in Northeastern Ohio, we went back to live in England. Over the years we traveled back and forth across the pond two or three times a year, especially in November for Thanksgiving. In May 2007, on our last vacation here, we decided to sell up and move to the USA. And so on that trip we began doing ground work on what areas we would like to live in and researching what type of house we would purchase.
It didn't take me long, after becoming a legal permanent resident, to realize how important the Second Amendment is (that is not to say that the entire Bill of Rights is not as important).
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Shortly after arriving back in England in 2007, we then started the process of preparing the house for sale, and also the process of getting my visa.
The first step in getting a visa was having my wife file an I-130, who is also known as my petitioner. The cost of filing is roughly $300.00. Once that was received by the US Embassy in London, I had to undergo a thorough medical at a cost of $400.00. Also when filing, one is required to have to have a great deal of documents to support the filing, such as bank statements, birth certificates, marriage certificates, any divorce papers, a national background police certificate and letters relating to a job offer.
Once the US Embassy has all that information, they then start to process the application, which can take up to six months. The next stage is a personal interview at the US Embassy. If successful, you then go and pay for your visa to be entered into your passport. The cost of the visa was $400.00, and it was only valid for 6 months. If visa was not used to travel to the US by the end of 6 months, it would have expired and the whole process would've had to be started all over again from the beginning.
Fortunately for us we sold our house in England, and had the funds transferred by wire to a US Bank (The reason funds had to be wired bank to bank is because US Customs will not let you enter the US carrying more than $10,000 on your person even if it is a money order or check).
On arrival at the port of entry (Good Old Cincy), I had to undergo an interview and finger printing by immigration officers. After that we were homeward on our Cleveland flight from Cincinnati. When we got to Hopkins Airport, our family was there to meet us and they helped with our excess baggage. To be honest it REALLY felt like come home because while we may have lived in England, but our hearts were here in the US.
To say life has been good since we arrived is an understatement. Since arriving here in December 2007, we purchased a house and two American-made cars. I passed my driving test, and received my social security card and my permanent residency card.
It is good to be here, free from European socialism (otherwise known as the European Union). I have found since living here that the freedoms you Americans fought hard for and enjoy are well worth defending at all costs - not just the Second Amendment, but all of your Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which make this country totally unique in the world. (One example other than gun rights is the Freedom of Information Act - there is no such thing in England. England could also be known as the land of the not so free.)
After having residing in America now for 14 months, I can tell you there is much to be said for your freedoms, but let me deal specifically with the freedom I have enjoyed as a new gun owner.
Having resided in England, where you cannot own a handgun or rifle, at first it wasn't a high priority for me to get a handgun. But over a period of time, the more I thought about what my rights are, I decided to make a purchase. I went to a couple of gun shows, and I also visited a wide variety of gun shops looking at what was available and the prices of these guns.
On visiting gun shows, it seems to me, one has to have knowledge and have done their homework on what is available and what prices are reasonable. It does take time to learn about firearms.
When going to the gun shops, to look at the guns in stock, I found that there was a great variance in prices and whether the shop would deal. All this took place over the course of three to four weeks. I favored either the Glock 17 or the Glock 22, in the end I chose the Glock 22.
I found a gun shop locally whose prices were good. I had good experience of the gun shop owner helping with my selection. The shop keeper also gave a good service, showing me how to field strip the gun, as well as what I needed to maintain the gun. So overall my gun buying experience has been a good one, due to all the information and help that I received.
On my first visit to the firing range, the gun shop owner came into the range with me and took time to run through the safety rules, and to cover the process of loading, holding, firing. This was a very good experience and very good instruction.
On shooting, I can honestly say that I was expecting a recoil from the gun, but I was pleasantly surprised. I've been to the range a few times now and I really enjoy my new found freedom in owning and using a handgun properly.
I have now purchased a Glock 19 for my wife. So when my wife and I do go to the range it will be another War of Independence: The Yankee vs. the Limey!
To all my new American gun owning friends on the BFA Forums, I thank you for all your advice, help and friendliness. Don't stop the advice from coming! Maybe we'll will meet up one day.
Long live the Second Amendment!