Given that I grew up in Wild West Wyoming, you'd probably think it's a safe assumption to make that I was born with a gun in my hand.
Of course, you would be wrong.
I didn't hold a gun in my hand (a 9 millimeter) until I was 17. I didn't dry fire a gun (a .357 Magnum) until I was 21. I didn't learn how to load a clip and fire live rounds (from a Glock .45) until I was in my mid-30's and dating a former cop.
Each one of those experiences terrified me.
All I knew about guns, until Jason took me to the firing range and forced me to practice, was what I'd seen in the movies. Guns are used to kill people. I don't like killing people. I don't want to do it accidentally. I'm sorry enough when it comes to cutting up bell peppers with a chef's knife. However, he and I were talking about moving in together at the time and he would not consider leaving me in a house alone with a firearm I wasn't able or prepared to use.
We broke up not too long afterward (but not because of the gun).
Up until then, my stance on guns and gun control was decidedly on the side of anti-gun. Guns = Bad. Bad People have guns. Bad People do bad things with guns. Get rid of all the guns. Make more laws. Problem solved.
But Jason was the first to turn me around in my thinking. Even though my fear of guns increased significantly after he and I went to the firing range one time - the experience shook me to the core - my thoughts were starting to shift. And then, as my social circles widened dramatically, as I became exposed to and befriended a number of people from all walks of life, as I began having dialogues with more and more people - people with guns, people with concealed weapon permits...sane, rational, responsible people - I began to understand the holes and flaws in my long held belief regarding the evilness of firearms even if my all out terror of guns didn't diminish.
And then I moved in with Lex - former military, firm believer in his right to bear arms.
It didn't occur to me I was, at the ripe age of 36, living with my first handgun until he mentioned it in passing - I was probably doing dishes and not thoroughly listening - and I was all like, "Wait...what? Oh. Um. Don't tell me where it lives. I don't want to know."
It took several months of conversation, several months of trust building, several months of breathing deeply in through my nose and out through my mouth to avoid panicking before I was even ready to see it or know where he kept it.
He waited patiently for me. When I finally broke down and asked to see it, to know where it lived, he was ready for me. He walked me through the process of ensuring it was unloaded (he unloaded it, I didn't). He sat with it while we talked, my eyes trained on it, apparently waiting for it to take on a life of its own and start shooting at will. It didn't and I didn't die.
That wasn't the a-ha moment about gun control for me though. With Lex, everything is safe, controlled. He's got a handle on things...he's got a handle on me. Him having a gun made complete sense and I didn't mind.
The a-ha moment came during a conversation with a close friend who confided she had a handgun and a license to carry a concealed weapon. At the time, she was a college student and, at the time, the Colorado legislature had just banned guns from all college campuses as part of the backlash from the mass shooting at Virginia Tech a few years prior. She said, "In the event of a college campus shooting, the Colorado legislature has just signed our death warrants. Seung-Hui Cho didn't care about gun laws when he open fired on campus. He cared about killing people. He wouldn't have cared whether guns were allowed on campus or not. Laws like these don't stop mad men. Thus, the rest of us law-abiding citizens who won't break the new law and carry on campus are effectively rendered defenseless. I have a gun. I am trained and am competent to use it. I am prepared to use it to defend myself and others from harm. And now I am told to disarm myself. Great."
Oh shit. She's right.
Since then, I've hungered for information about guns and gun laws. I met Kelli - a vocal advocate for open carry - someone who knows the ins and outs of gun laws as they vary from state to state. Kelli who is cautious to a fault (is there such a thing?) when it comes to gun safety. Kelli who exercises his right to open carry his firearm whenever the law allows. Kelli, who is willing and prepared to be harassed by the police every time he exercises his right for the sole purpose of proving that responsible gun ownership exists...that the second amendment to the US Constitution is his right as an American citizen exists.
Since then, I've invited #himself from upstairs to show me how one of his handguns works. I've loaded the (bullet-less...I am me, after all) clip, chambered a (non-existent) round, released the safety, and dry-fired in the direction of a rogue table lamp multiple times. I even demonstrated my prowess for Lex. Lex kinda just nodded, rolled his eyes, and offered praise *laughing*.
But...I'm ready for the firing range. I think.
Something about that conversation with my college student friend changed me. Changed my mind. All of a sudden, it was clear to me. Bad People will do Bad Things with guns - regardless of what the laws read. Am I willing to die because a Bad Person doesn't care if it's against the law to have a gun and I, well, do? Am I willing to continue to live in a house with a firearm and depend on someone else to defend me if a Bad Person decides to break in and try to hurt me? Hurt Lex? Hurt *gasp* Vinny?
Guns are a Big Deal in the United States. That isn't going to change. And even if the federal legislature is able to overturn the second amendment to the US Constitution and the Supreme Court upholds it, there are still guns guns guns galore. Except then they'd all be in the hands of the Bad People.
Lucy posted the other day about being scared shitless in her bed, thinking an intruder had entered her home while she laid there alone and helpless. She called her husband 1,800 miles away to "protect" her...her gut reaction.
I commented on her post with the following: This feminist would have totally done the same thing. Being a feminist doesn't mean being exempt from fear. As women, we know there are many monsters who go bump in our nights. Lucky for me, if Lex weren't home (and, let's face it, Lex is ALWAYS home), I'd be calling modchen (all 90 terrifying pounds of her) and #himself to come rescue me.
At the moment I clicked "publish comment" I knew I couldn't depend on Lex, on modchen (beware the tiny dynamo), #himself, or Acr0nym to help me. Not when every second counts. I knew then I needed to learn to be proficient and confident in gun management all on my own. You do know Bad People (and zombies) are everywhere, right?
Gun management is a skill...like baking, knitting, kung fu. If I'm unafraid to souffle, shouldn't it also be true that I should be unafraid to lock and load?
Guns don't kill people. People kill people.
While I do not oppose waiting periods or background checks, those seem to me to be sound laws, I need to know how to defend myself against those with guns. All those with guns. Most notably the Bad People.
Especially while it's my right...nay, my responsibility...to know.
Hee hee. Lookie, Jack! It's the Jane of Songs!