I’ll be spending my 41st birthday in a rather unusual fashion. I’m taking a gun class. I appreciate I don’t owe anyone an explanation, and I appreciate that I’ve got a *wide* spectrum of loved ones who may or not support my choices, and that I don’t feel beholden to them. Before you see me “carrying,” though (and ideally, you’ll never *see* me carrying), I’d like to share my processes. At the very least, it can reassure my sisters that I’ve not slipped my gourd and am preparing for a Zombie apocalypse, and reassure my brother that I’ll never, no matter the pressure, vote for Donald Trump.
I’ve picked out my first handgun after serious research and some savvy-guidance from a gun expert (I’m coining him that, for the record). I tried out different styles, makes, and calibers. I found one that seemed to mesh well with my goals and my needs. I purchased it legally, picked it up from a licensed firearms dealer who was markedly tickled to have a woman show up at his door at 8 a.m., and did the appropriate “background check” steps. It’s the perfect choice for me, and I’m looking forward to training with it.
Those of you who know me can appreciate I don’t do things half-measure, and am a researcher by trade (something I’m sure my husband finds quite amusing as I immerse myself in books on gun laws, books on gun styles, books on shooting stances, books on ammunition). In short, I’m educating myself on the process. I found a great woman’s group which meets in Columbia at a range a couple of times a month, and look forward to shooting with them to build experience. I’ve read about everything suggested by experts in the field (and confess to no small amount of hero-worship for Massad Ayoob, looking forward to the day I can take a class with him).
Nathan grew up around guns, though, and so he’s got the experience I do not. I have two other firearms. I have a 12 gauge shot-gun I got immediately after my divorce when I was living in a very rural area of Kansas, and a single-parent. It’s an Ithaca 47, a riot gun, and it was a decidedly perfect mesh for my purposes at the time. The most activity it ever saw was the summer of the rabid skunk problem, when I killed (and buried, ugh) 7 skunks. I’m sure that’s a memory my daughters look back fondly on . . . they’d be out playing in the sand pile, see a skunk staggering about in the daylight, and I’d come running out with my shotgun. When I married Nathan, he got me a lovely .243 deer rifle. I practice with it. I handle it responsibly, and I am a good shot when I need to kill a deer. I’m not a huge fan of hunting, mostly because it seems unfair to me that the deer want to move on the frostiest mornings of the year, which means being bundled up and outside at 5:30 in the morning. Oh, the injustice of it all. Still, I like the free meat, and so I do what needs doing.
I also want to share a bit about the ideology of it all. This is yet another area where I really like my man Bernie. I’m a liberal. I didn’t realize there were liberal gun-owners out there, and finding a little community of people who think like I think is quite reassuring through the process. I’m likely not going to give money to the NRA. I think they politicize issues they should not, and frankly, I don’t understand the need for assault weapons to be accessible to the general public. I also support background checks – for everyone. If you want a gun, you should be required to get a background check. If you’re not crazy, and you’re not a criminal, there’s no problems with background checks. I do not support a gun registry, but despite the NRA’s propagandizing there is no governmental push to have a national gun registry. It was actually my ignorance that led me to ask my firearms dealer if I was now on some list, and I got a proper lesson on the matter. The only people who know my serial numbers are my firearms dealers. That’s it. If I do something criminal with it, or have to shoot someone in self-defense, it might get written down somewhere. I’m not sure about that, but I’m not opposed to it either.
I think it is my right to own a gun, and I am a good guy. My “personal firearms expert” (thank heavens I have him to bombard with questions) pointed out that we have a responsibility to arm ourselves, and I think the argument is a solid one. Not only do we want to maintain our 2nd amendment rights (and anyone studying the Bill of Rights knows our rights are only as good as long as we demand them AND use them), but I could see a theoretical deterrent effect. If bad guys know more good guys have guns, then maybe they’ll pause before shooting. This is not addressing the mental health issue – we need better mental health care, period. Not even delving into that except to say if we had more resources to help people get mental health care they need, a significant proportion of gun violence could be reduced.
There’s also the Jesus issue. I love me some Jesus. I’m still reading books on the idea about Christian pacifism and all that so I don’t have a lot to contribute to this argument. The good thing, though, is that I know I’m right with Jesus. If I kill someone defending myself or my children, I’m still going to be right with Jesus. I don’t feel a moral imperative to die because some schmoe opens fire in a public place. I do believe in the idea that when it’s my time, it’s my time, and I’m looking forward to Heaven. Now, though, my children need me, so I figure God is okay with me defending our little unit as necessary. When He really wants me, He’ll really take me.
There’s also the crime issue. I consider myself a criminologist. I’ve studied crime for years. I recognize that the fear of crime is overwhelmingly higher than the actual crime rates reflect or represent. People pass through life terrified to go places, to experience new things, even to travel because they’re worried something bad will happen. Honestly, that’s not me. I like to experience new things. I am wise enough to not put myself in risky positions, but we take little risks every day. Driving, for example. I also think that sometimes, people just wind up, through no fault of their own, in a bad place. There’s been three shootings at the Columbia mall recently. Three separate incidents. Do I want to avoid going to the mall? Well, yes, but that’s because I hate the mall, and I love Amazon, but the point is that crime can happen randomly. I won’t pass through life being fearful of crime occurring, but I don’t begrudge myself the opportunity to even out the playing field a bit (by carrying a weapon).
Then last, there’s the security issue. Yes, the firearm will be loaded. It will also be loaded with the type of bullets to stop bad guys, not the type of bullets to practice. Judge me if you will. I will be adding a “gun safety” curriculum to our homeschool plan. Undoubtedly Nathan would be discussing guns with the kids anyway, but I’ll add in the elements of handling, respect for firearms, practice. I just *love* the points raised by Kathy at the Cornered Cat, where she discusses removing the taboo of guns by letting your kids handle them (unloaded, safely) when they ask, so that they don’t run to play with a gun if they come across one somewhere. That being said, I’ll be neurotic about this, I’m sure. The loaded gun won’t be left out where my children could get to it. It’ll either be on me or in the gun safe. That’s it. The only two options. On me, or in the safe. It will take some conditioning, undoubtedly, but I’ve always been a smart cookie, so I am confident (with my children’s welfare as my focus), I won’t screw that up.
So all in all, I’m looking forward to my big day. I’m tickled with my choice of a birthday present. I messaged Dad to let him know what I put his birthday money towards, and he hasn’t responded yet. It could be either that he’s curious why his baby girl would ‘feel the need’ to carry a firearm, or he’s thinking I’ve gone over the edge. It could be either. He’d probably rather I just buy some new shoes, but this is much more practical . . . 😉