When I was young – and up until just a month or so ago – I was scared of guns. All guns. It didn’t matter if they were long or short, big or little, loaded or empty. I was afraid of them. Irrationally so.
I never personally knew anyone who had been shot, or who had accidentally been killed by having a gun. I heard about shootings on the nightly news, but even in my fairly rural state that wasn’t something that occurred often. Usually we only heard about shootings when it was some hunting-related accident or a suicide, and not even many of those.
Now, that’s not to say my imagination couldn’t be vivid. I did go pheasant hunting a few times with my dad and granddad when I was a kid and the fact that I was the “dog” didn’t slide by me. My dad was in no-way a professional hunter, so it was a little bit risky…
Still, I don’t think that’s where this fear came from.
I never had much exposure to guns until I met my current husband. Not to indicate rural red-neck was stamped on his backside, but yes, he did have a gun rack in his bedroom when I met him. Feel free to laugh. I did. No, he did not have one in his pickup. That scored him a point or two.
I convinced him a lovely glass enclosed locking gun cabinet was a better choice for me and the guns, and they quickly were removed from the sleeping quarters. It didn’t hurt my feelings to know they were locked up, either, although the locks are pretty chintzy and I don’t think they’d keep anyone out who really wanted in – except maybe the kids – which was another one of my motives.
A few weeks after we were together, I was sitting in the living room quietly reading when I heard my now-Hubs going into the bathroom down the hallway from me. I hear him open the window (no screen) and KA-BOOM! I about fell off my chair. He was shooting a ground-squirrel from the bathroom window. (Yes, we are talking rural.) After picking myself up off the floor, I proceeded to give him an earful. First, I told him that wasn’t a fair fight – to let the outside cats take care of that problem. We had no outside cats. We soon had some. No more ground-squirrel problem. Then, I proceeded to tell him how I didn’t appreciate him shooting things at all – especially when I was not aware he was going to do it!
He agreed, and peace ensued.
He was a hunter. Not extreme, as some of his friends who will travel the country shooting anything that moves. He did go pheasant hunting and deer hunting and I have had the trophies (read heads) to prove it. He did it for several more years after we were married and it never really bothered me. We always ate the meat and he didn’t shoot more than he was allotted.
One morning he got up in the wee hours to meet his hunting buddies, left to go have the “early breakfast strategy meeting”, and a couple of hours later – much to my surprise – was home! He’d not been feeling well, and he said he was sitting in that tree stand, cold, miserable, and just asked himself if he really needed to be doing this. He hasn’t been hunting since. It just lost the fun for him.
A few years ago, at my request, he took me out and tried to help me learn to shoot. I was shaking so badly I couldn’t even pull the trigger. We put it away and he never brought it up again. I always felt in the back of my mind that since we did live in such a rural area, that I should know how to shoot. We have rabid animals come around occasionally that need to be shot, and it doesn’t hurt to have it around when the rabid humans come around too.
It never came up again. We moved, we bought a new gun safe, we moved all the guns, and it never came up.
Until a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know why, but I got it in my head that I wanted to try again. Suddenly, the fear was gone. Just like that, it was gone. Hubs took me outside, showed me all about the gun, loaded it, and by golly – I pulled the trigger. Several times. It’s going to take some practice before I can hit anything, but at least now I know if I had to I could load it, aim, and probably scare the living shit out of most anything – except possibly myself.
I’m still for keeping the guns locked up – especially if there are children around. I’m still for registering them. I’m all for keeping the really wicked ones out of the hands of the bad guys. But I do feel it is a right to have them if you want. I do feel it is a right to protect your own property in whatever manner you have available. At the moment, I actually feel pretty good about the gun… and the fact that I’ve learned how to use it makes me feel a whole lot better about it.