Yes, I own a couple – the real kind – the kind that go boom. Guns and I have a sordid history. When I was a kid, I remember sitting on my pappy’s knee and pulling the trigger on a shotgun as he aimed at some airborne fowl. I didn’t realize at the time that the purpose of all this pomp was, in fact, to kill them. It’s all part of the cycle of life, yadda yadda, but it was a little much for a wee lass of maybe five years old to really comprehend. However, I grew up in Michigan where five year old girls firing shotguns is normal or even expected.
In fact, those very same guns were stored in my closet as a child. Half of my closet was filled with a large, sturdy, oak gun safe. One would think that a child’s closet is a strange place to store weaponry, however, I was instilled with a very healthy fear of that gun closet. I was told never, ever under any circumstances to even attempt to open it (not that I could have since it had a big padlock on it). Most children think there is a monster that lives in their closet, but the monsters in my closet were very much real. They could kill me, you and even airborne fowl.
For over twenty years, I never saw the inside of that gun safe until my mom sold it at a garage sale. It was far less scary than I had imagined as a child. When the creaky, old, wood door finally opened for me, I discovered that, much to my disappointment, the inside of the cabinet looked very much like the outside of it in reverse, only with more places to put things like guns and ammunition. There were no monsters inside it at all.
It was decades later that I actually fired a gun again. Strangely, it wasn’t until I moved to California, one of the most stringent of all states on gun laws. A friend of mine had what could be called a stockpile, or at the very least, a cache of firearms. He took me shooting, and like most first-time shooters, I was nervous as hell. I found it difficult to concentrate on what I was doing. To be frank, I sucked. Shooting guns again wasn’t really anything I had an interest in pursuing, but at least I could say I had done it.
Fast forward a few years and my roommate, a new homeowner, bought a gun or several. I wrote about his motivations in the post The ZA Plan. First, he bought a 12 gauge, pump action shotgun for home protection. It was a reasonable purchase since just that CHA-CHINK, pump action sound would be enough to make most intruders get off my lawn. Then, he bought a 9mm handgun, a .22 rifle, a couple of .223 rifles, a .30-06 (pronounced the fun way: thirty-aught-six), a .308, another shotgun and another 9mm. I forget the order in which they were purchased and I may even be forgetting a couple, but suffice it to say, there is now a stockpile of weaponry in my own house. We have three gun safes. Hm, I thought, perhaps it’s time I figured out how to shoot one of these things for real.
We went to the outdoor range. Once again, I had the jitters. These things can kill you. I started with the .22 rifle. I picked it up, shot it and, hey, what do you know? It hit what it was supposed to hit. I shot some more until, after a while, I became pretty durn handy with a .22 rifle even at distances of over 100 yards. I worked my way up in calibers until now, I can pretty well shoot anything in his arsenal. I’m still not all that fond of the .30-06 (it’s too much gun for me), but I can shoot the thing with a fair amount of precision.
After I got over the initial, these things can kill you jitters, I thought maybe I’d like to have a gun of my own. I did some research, picked the one I wanted and waited for it to go on sale. It didn’t take very long before the local gun shop – ruthlessly efficient at putting the exact gun you want on sale when you can’t quite afford it – put it on sale. I purchased a rifle. I am a registered gun owner in the state of California.
My rifle is one of the most popular .22 caliber rifles ever. I named it Buck since it looks like a 1950′s TV cowboy gun. It would look very comfortable on the back of a saddle. I know you’re supposed to name things after women, but since I’m a girl, I figure I’m exempt from that rule.
Then, just recently, that very same ruthlessly efficient gun store put the 9mm handgun that I’ve had my eye on for a while on sale for the best price I’ve ever seen, the bastards. Unemployment be damned, it was an offer too good to refuse. Besides, I have credit cards. I aced my Handgun Safety Test, got my handgun license and now, I own two guns – a rifle and a semiautomatic pistol. I haven’t named the handgun yet. I’m open to suggestions.
I find guns relaxing. I have always had a hard time turning off my brain. It’s the reason that I’m an insomniac. I’ve never been able to meditate either. Ommmm… No way, no how can I turn my mind off to focus on one thing or whatever it is they want you to do when you meditate. But, when I have a gun in my hand, all of everything just fades into the background. I focus on one thing only – the target in front of me and my ability to shoot it. I breathe, I relax, I concentrate.
I am, by most definitions, a liberal. I am also gun owner. I enjoy exercising my second amendment rights, but I am also for gun restrictions within reason. I’m perfectly comfortable with my name listed in a database as a registered firearm owner. It’s completely reasonable to require a ten-day waiting period to do a background check. If you are convicted of a violent crime, you probably shouldn’t be able to own a gun. Unlike a lot of people who seem to look at me like I’m insane when I tell them I’m both a liberal and a gun owner, I see no conflict of interest.
I don’t buy into the stereotype of what a gun owner should be. I don’t believe in the gun-totin’, god-fearin’, pickup truck drivin’, flag wavin’ stereotype of gun owners in America. That’s not who I am. I am not a fan of the NRA; a right-wing, political machine designed to manipulate the system under the guise of a group for gun hobbyists. There is a myth perpetuated by the right that liberal folks hate guns and want to take them away from everyone else. It is simply not true. Not all gun owners are Republicans, just like not all anti-gun people are liberal.
It bothers me that, in addition to buying gun accessories from one of a multitude of online “sports and outdoors” retailers, I can also buy a T-shirt that says something about Jesus, “If you can read this, the bitch fell off” or “try to take these guns away, Obama” referring, of course, to the wearer’s big, burly, man muscles. How it is that politics, religion and firearms all ended up in bed together in some sort of twisted threesome is beyond me.
It also bothers me that women with guns are mainly portrayed wearing an American flag bikini, awkwardly holding an AK-47 while parking her butt on the hood of a pickup truck or straddling a motorcycle that she obviously doesn’t ride any more than she shoots that AK she’s holding. Women couldn’t possibly have an interest in firearms unless their boyfriend/father/husband makes them, right?
I wouldn’t be caught dead in an American flag bikini, but I do own two firearms. I don’t need your help at the range. I’m not some helpless little girlie-girl who giggles after shooting a gun while my boyfriend stands behind me. I’m not your honey, your baby or your sweetheart. Don’t forget, I’m holding a gun.