A post today on Red State prompted me to write an article in kind, describing the situation that started my journey to becoming a “gun nut.” (Actually, I think sharing more of these stories would be helpful to the pro/anti gun debate because they reveal that not all gun proponents have always been that way, contrary to how we are portrayed.)
It seems that most liberals think gun-nuts are just born that way, that we have a genetic disposition towards gun ownership or we’re conditioned to be pro-gun through culture. This mirrors the liberal assumption that if you’re conservative you must have been born that way because you simply can’t possibly be conservative if you open your mind to the real world. After all, “enlightenment” is the exclusive territory of liberals, right? In fact, the opposite is true, both in terms of having a conservative political worldview and in terms of gun ownership. My story is a case in point…
I’ve never been “anti-gun”, but I wasn’t a “gun nut” either. Guns were a non-issue for me.
I suppose you could have called me a gun agnostic. My grandfather was a hunter and I knew he went on deer and turkey hunts from time to time, but I never really had any interest in it. He took me out “plinking” when I was young, and I enjoyed it, but didn’t carry things any farther than that. School came and went, I moved away for college, time passed, and so did my grandfather. Before he died, he gave me one of his hunting rifles, a Winchester Model 94. I appreciated it, but never had any interest in shooting it.
A couple of years ago we had a rash of break-ins in my neighborhood. It’s a small community so we collaborated on timing, strange vehicles, etc. I work from home and come and go at non-typical hours. I had seen a strange vehicle driving through the neighborhood, but no one could confirm whether it belonged or not.
One afternoon my dogs went crazy barking at something, which usually means a delivery van is coming up the driveway. I looked out the window and saw “the car” coming up my driveway. “The car” pulled up to my front walk and whoever was inside apparently observed the house for a few moments. Probably because the dogs were barking and jumping around in the front window, they thought better than to try to break in, and left.
I recorded the make and model, the license number, and other details, and reported them to the local sheriff’s office. Turns out the owner of the vehicle was a gang member with a long criminal history including violent assaults, terroristic threats, burglary, etc.
The next few days I coped with several realizations:
1) If whoever was in that car had decided to bust in my front door and the dogs either didn’t scare them off or were shot, I would likely be dead. I had no means of protection other than my body and possibly a kitchen knife had I been of the mind to grab one (which was unlikely).
2) The person in that car had no regard whatsoever for the well being of any living things that were in my house. They wanted my stuff and were going to take it, perceived risk being low enough.
3) It didn’t matter to the person in that car how hard I had worked for my stuff or what it meant to me. They intended to take it, regardless of how much damage it did to my soul, my house, my bank account, or my life.
4) There are people “out there” who have no qualms about hurting you, killing you, taking your money, taking your possessions, or causing you some kind of harm. Harm that you could never imagine voluntarily causing anyone else. These people are real, the harm they intend is real, and they will not hesitate to ruin your life if you are an obstruction to their goal. And that is all you are, an obstruction, something to be moved out of the way.
I was forced into the above realizations. Dragged into them by the actions of someone who had already caused others great harm and might have also harmed me, had I not been lucky. I decided I wanted to move luck a little lower on the flow chart of why I get to be alive when my wife gets home from work or why my daughter gets to stay at school rather than be called home for my funeral.
So I bought a gun. And then another one. And then another one. The more I practiced and studied, the more I wanted to learn. Different guns, different tactics, different scenarios.
I enjoyed the challenge, the stress, the discipline. I was becoming a gun nut.
Something that took me by surprise, that I wholly did not expect was to confront the dark side of being a gun nut, that is, you are training for the possibility of being forced to do something about a bad guy some day. That there is a component of humanity that might actually cross the line and force you to use your gun. Rest absolutely assured, if you are of sound mind, you will probably tear up, or at least feel uncomfortable as you learn to defend yourself, particularly with a deadly weapon. It might not happen on the range, it might not happen at the dojo. But some night, you will break down. You’ll realize that your rose colored glasses have been ripped off and stomped to pieces, and you will never be able to get another pair. A new reality will sink like a cinder block into your stomach.
But you’ll get over it. You’ll have to. Just because there are people out there who mean you harm is no reason to shrink into a shell and stop living your life. If you do, “those people” have beaten you. You learn to defend yourself so you don’t have to live in a shell.
I haven’t lost all faith in humanity. I’ve just been slapped in the face by the fact that there is a percentage of humanity that means others harm.
Call me a “gun nut” if you like. I happen to believe that gun nuts have a far greater understanding of and respect for life than those who are ignorant of the fact that some people wish others harm. We certainly have a greater respect for life than those who desire to do harm. It’s ironic that those who would put themselves in harm’s way to defend your life are likely the same people who suffer the slurs of “gun nut” and “right wing nutbag.”