As far as I know, I’ve never seen or touched a gun except for those guns on the hips of police officers. Maybe somewhere along the way when I was too young to remember I saw a gun. Maybe an uncle had one that he showed to me. Or some other relative or family friend. But I don’t think so.
I want nothing to do with the gun culture. I want guns banned in this country and the hundreds of millions of guns that have turned us into an armed nation to disappear. I want to do what Australia did a number of years ago when they suffered a mass shooting in 1996. Within three months, the government banned rapid fire long guns and offered to buy back all outlawed guns. Seven years later the government also began buying back handguns. From 1988 to 2005 gun ownership in Australia declined by 75%. And Australia has not suffered a mass shooting since 1996.
I don’t live in Australia. I live in good ol’ ‘Murica, where we have the 2nd Amendment — one of the most twisted, misinterpreted, and misunderstood pieces of law in the history of the world. We have the gun culture. And we have the NRA. And we have a people who seem to respond to every crisis by buying more guns. We seem to be a nation awash in guns. I hate it, but it is our reality.
Let me qualify what I just wrote. I don’t have any problem with guns for hunting and guns for protection of one’s home. My issue is that once a person crosses their property line and is out in the public (except for hunting), they should leave their guns behind. I don’t think the Wild West is a preferable way to live.
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A couple of years ago, on a quiet Saturday evening at home my older son and his girlfriend went out to our driveway to wash his car. I went upstairs to our bedroom around 9:00. Our bedroom is at the front of our house and looks over the driveway. I settled in to read. A few minutes later, I was jolted by two gun shots ringing out right in front of our house.
Where my son and his girlfriend were.
I raced downstairs and out to the driveway.
They weren’t there. They had gone to get ice cream after finishing with his car. I breathed a sigh of relief.
But, still, there were gun shots right outside my house. (We believe it was a couple of neighborhood boys/young men who were in some way involved with drugs and a gang. Fortunately, it appears they don’t still have those connections.) See above. I’ve never seen a gun. Never touched a gun. And people were firing them right outside my house. And my son was right there. Only he wasn’t. But, what if. How could I possibly protect him or my family from people with guns?
A month or two ago, a family down the street and around the corner were victimized in a home invasion robbery. In the last year or two, we have heard more and more reports of crime in our neighborhood.
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I have never felt safe. As a child, I went to sleep most nights in fear of somebody breaking into our house or of the house burning down in the night. I still have those fears, although to a lesser degree. I regularly wake up in the middle of the night convinced there is somebody in the house.
As an adult, I have an overactive imagination. Trust me, you don’t want to know about the things I fear when I walk the streets or I go out into the world. The threats I imagine blooming into real acts against me and the people around me. I don’t want you to worry about the things I worry about.
But I’ll give you an example … we have a sliding glass door that leads to the backyard. I hate leaving the slider open. We live on a corner lot. All it would take for a bad guy to get into our house is to hop our fence from the street and … boom … five seconds later they’d be in. (There is an experience in the past that supports this fear by the way — about 15 years ago, a single mother was home one night. Her sliding glass door was open. A fourteen or fifteen-year-old punk came into her house through the sliding glass door, raped her, and beat her into a coma that she never came out of.) You see …
I have never, ever felt safe.
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After the incident with the gunshots outside our house, I began to think of getting a gun. Taking classes, getting licensed, the whole bit. And then it died out. But things keep happening and I keep thinking about it.
I have a number of friends who have guns. How can I not in gun-rich ‘Murica? Two of them have concealed carry permits. One of them goes to the shooting range on a regular basis. He has taken my sons there with him. I have suggested I’d like to go at some point. Just my friend and I, with nobody else. I don’t need anybody making fun of my hesitation and reluctance and fear of holding a gun in my hand. Tomorrow morning, that’s where I’ll be.
So, why do this? Because I feel like I have no choice living in ‘Murica. Because I have never felt safe.
The thing is … I know that having a gun won’t make a difference. And I also know that I am still far from committing to the idea of having a gun in my home. I’m going shooting tomorrow to see how I feel with it. I’m terrified. But I’m tired of being terrified.