In 1980, I was living in the District of Columbia, but needed some “country time,” so I bought a small cabin in Orange County, Va. I planned to hunt there, but with D.C.’s draconian firearm laws I needed to be judicious in choosing what to buy. It needed to be useful for the type of hunting I planned to do, rugged and it also couldn’t cost too much—but it also had to be something that the District would permit me to own.
The answer was a 12-ga. double-barreled shotgun, specifically a Stevens Model 311. I then began the onerous process of getting a license to own it: photographs, fingerprints, extensive background checks and police interviews. After almost a month, my license was finally issued.
I now live in Virginia, and that Stevens has served me well for more than 40 years. It’s as versatile and useful a gun as I had hoped it would be; I’ve used it on waterfowl, squirrels, rabbits and other small game. It has taken many a barn pigeon, and it’s my go-to shotgun for an annual pheasant hunt. Over time, I’ve modified it a bit—I had the original “walnut-finished hardwood” stock replaced with one of real walnut, plus added a set of choke tubes and sling swivels. I’ve never taken a deer with it, but someday I might.
As unpleasant and burdensome as the District of Columbia’s process for purchasing a firearm was, for me, acquiring this shotgun was well worth the hassle. I hope someday to pass it on to someone who will appreciate the gun and has the freedom to own it without fear of arrest.
Tom Caceci, Virginia