Sunday, November 21, 2004

Gun Ownership

I saw this post on Peg Kaplan's website and couldn't help commenting. I grew up hating guns and being very fearful of them. I was raised to fear them, as for the first part of my life, I was told to fear them, and for the second part of my life, I had a parent who kept a firearm irresponsibly. So I was definitely not one for the NRA member recruitment team. However, I married a man who kept several firearms, and before long, I learned to shoot handguns. I'm not a great shot, but I'm well within the 9" paper plate requirement, and some days, I'm on-target and impressing myself. When I bought my first gun, a Smith & Wesson 38 Special snub with a hidden hammer, I took a step that frightened me. I was holding in my hands a weapon that could kill someone. It was a heady, terrifying notion. I realized I did not trust myself. What if I got angry? What if I went insane? What if I was sleep-walking? Hey, I know it sounds crazy....but I was shocked by the implications of owning a firearm. It took several years, but here is what gun-ownership has taught me: self-ownership. 1. I am not a murderer. I would no sooner kill a mouse (and I have one in the house - with a stupid humane mouse trap that the damn thing is not fooled by) than kill another human being. That being stated, if you so much as dare break into my house with intent to do harm, if someone tried to do a violent act to someone I care about....I would do whatever was in my power to stop them, including take a life. Now I'm not talking silly things like boyfriends and annoying bosses. I'm talking about someone who is out to maim or kill someone I care about. I would defend my loved ones with every inch of my life, gun or no gun. 2. I also own several knives, both of the kitchen and non-kitchen variety. I love knives, though I'm a novice at understanding and collecting them. I find them fascinating. If you have a baseball bat in your garage, a steel pipe, a 4x4 board....these are all killing devices. Many things can be a weapon if wielded appropriately. Guns are merely one of many weapons. (Hell, airport security is convinced nail files are pretty dangerous, so if you've got one of those lying around....) While these things may seem trivial, or frightening, to some, I learned something incredibly valuable about myself....something no one could teach me or instill in me. I am a trustworthy individual. I can now handle my guns with complete comfort because I know who I am and what I am capable of. As I learned to appreciate the sport of target shooting and the danger of handling a weapon irresponsibly, I became more and more competent. I appreciate their danger, and enjoy the challenge and power as a user. I do not fear them in any way - because it is not the metal that has a heart. It is the finger pressing against the trigger that makes the choice. And if we did not have guns, if they completely evaporated from existence, murder would still exist. Violence did not begat gun-crafting. Just as gun-crafting did not begat violence. They exist outside one another....and it is only the flaws in the human heart that bring them into the same playing field. I cannot tell anyone how to feel about guns and gun-ownership. We all have our reasons for the way we feel. But if you've ever been to a country where the citizens cannot own guns, yet the criminals possess firearms and are rampant, you start to appreciate the "right" to own a gun. When those who are evil in the world can threaten you and you have nothing with which to respond, you are helpless. The right to defend ourselves is a precious one. Our society believes that we have a right to the lives we are given. If we lose the right to protect it, we lose part of who we are as individuals, as parents, as a community. Side note: for those who are interested, I've since moved over to the dark side and own two semi-automatic pistols: a standard Glock & a Kel-Tec. The S&W was traded, as I can no longer shoot revolvers due to a pinched nerve in my trigger finger.