Before turning 18 I wasn’t much of a fan of firearms. I didn’t like the notion that an idiot could pick up a weapon and casually kill me. Especially considering that I’d spent years learning to fight with my hands and feet. And, well, pretty much anything that came to hand–more weapons surrounding us than most people realize. A gun, far from being an “equalizer” seemed like a coward’s weapon.
When I was 18 I ran into this tiny woman at a mall. She was doing a survey thing where she was asking customers questions. When she took a break my friend and I struck up a conversation. We were job hunting and we wanted to know what her job was like.
The conversation went all different directions, as it happened. We just started chatting about life in general. And this tiny woman, who barely looked larger than a child (though clearly not a child… she was 30, though most people would have imagined her as ten years younger just because of her diminutive form).
She explained how she’d have no means to defend herself against someone like me without a firearm, and described how she’d used them to defend herself and family members.
I couldn’t argue with that. The one thing I believe is that no one should be forced to be a victim. If they can fight back, they have a right to do so. As a former victim, I knew that as well as anyone.
So, while I never truly became comfortable with guns myself, I granted other people the right to use them to defend themselves. In the spirit of a very attractive, very articulate woman I attained a great deal of respect for in the course of a few conversations on that particular day.
I’ve still been under the impression for a long time that certain people shouldn’t have weapons. Maybe having a bunch of friends go to prison for murder has something to do with that. Yeah. That happened. The actual gunman was a great guy. Fun to hang around, fun to party with, and a heck of an artist. He could sketch out a character idea in a matter of a few minutes. (Then again, he could have been more open to suggestions as he did so…) He was also a martial artist of some skill.
And an adrenaline junky who never went anywhere without a firearm. When he fell in with a bunch of petty thieves, things were bound to go south. And, yeah, my friends were petty thieves. Allegedly reformed at the time. (How many times do people have to get arrested before they realize it’s not worth a few free dollars?)
<sigh> The one thing I knew is that Steve wasn’t likely to have gone out and robbed someone at fist-point. Oh, he could’ve mugged someone, but that wasn’t really his gig. A gun was just so much easier. Until it goes off and kills someone.
I wanted to wring all their necks.
Here’s the deal. Guns are not toys. They don’t exist to make you feel more powerful. Oh, they serve that purpose, all right, but their purpose is to allegedly defend you, not to act as a crutch for your social and political impotence.
If you like guns because they make you feel like you can handle whatever comes your way, you shouldn’t have guns. Because that’s a lie. A gun might give you a chance to survive a specific kind of emergency, one you’re actually not likely to face–as it happens. If you’re any good, it might provide a means of acquiring food if you’re desperate. It’s a useful tool in specific circumstances. But it’s not a goddamn swiss army knife. It’s not that versatile. It causes death. It doesn’t shield YOU from bullets, nor anyone else. It’s primarily useful if you are aware of the approach of danger before it arrives, less useful afterward.
As a thing to hang one’s life upon, and the lives of those around, it’s a slender thread indeed.