My Spouse Wants a Gun, But I Don’t

Case O' Guns
Doesn’t look like fun to me.  (Photo credit: Gregory Wild-Smith)

When my husband found out that we were having a girl, he covered his face with his hands in sincere terror. “What am I gonna do with a girl?!” he lamented. Family and friends jokingly gave him the answer: “Welp, guess you better get a gun!” It conjured up the image of a father standing on a creaky porch with a 12-gauge shotgun cradled in his hands, eyeing the poor sap about take his daughter out. I’m not sure if our daughter’s birth was the genesis of my husband’s desire for a gun, but here we are. 

He wants a firearm; I don’t. 

Considering my family history, I should be a proud gun-owner. My parents are both military veterans. I grew up on and around military installations, seeing Military Police stroll around with the butt of their service weapons flush against the hip. But this upbringing also meant I was far from the threat of gun violence in my community; I never felt the primal need to protect myself from a gun with a gun. Even so, my mother has been known to carry her Ruger into Baptist church services, because, well, you just never know when the Pastor will flip out on you. 

My husband wants a gun because, he tells me, people are crazy and we need to be able to protect ourselves. He wants to take me to a gun range and teach me how to shoot bullets into a paper drawing of man. I have no desire to do so. Despite the knowledge that people are scary, I still don’t want a gun. 

Given the push-come-to-shove scenario, I’d rather have anything else. A bat, a knife, a ceramic vase, heck, a Taser. Just not a gun. 

Something inside me recoils at the thought of shooting a person. I do not see safety in the steel barrel of a pistol, just carnage. I see the inscrutably small hole with death at the bottom of its black tunnel. The sharp crack of metal striking bone. Ragged threads of flesh torn by a spiraling, conical projectile. I imagine the acrid scent of singed gunpowder is what my fear must smell like to those who are unafraid. So much fine smoke. 

But honestly, what frightens me the most is being unafraid simply because I am carrying. Gun culture in America is the cloak of power over cold comfort. We joke, “BLOCKA BLOCKA!” We aim two fingers at imaginary perpetrators and rap about making fruit salad from split melons. We are cowboys, cavalier about the loss of lives as ephemeral as our own. I don’t want to “wish a  ________ would,” just so I can perforate his body with perfect circles. I want no part of a braggadocio rooted in blood. 

This makes me more a weak pacifist than an advocate for gun abolition, though. I still support both gun ownership and gun control. I understand that people are the propulsion behind gun violence. Something other than confiscation must be done to curb America’s fascination with the business of firearms.

Ultimately, I support my husband’s wish to protect his family by any means he deems necessary. Whenever I find enough space in the budget (we will not have a Smith & Wesson before we have a new couch; sorry, love), I will acquiesce. The gun will be a guest in my house I ignore. And getting comfortable with the prospect of pulling any triggers? That will always be a long shot. 

How do you feel about guns and gun ownership? Have you ever fired a gun? 

11 thoughts on “My Spouse Wants a Gun, But I Don’t

  1. You know, the last time a guy gave me unsolicited advice about the mind of a husband, it turned out pretty well. I just may follow up on that two birds idea, minus the turkey 🙂 That Maya Angelou line cracked me up…thanks? lol.

  2. D, you’re like the Maya Angelou of gun violence. Why I feel like I know what it’s like to be shot after reading your description? :0) But seriously, your husband is right. Go to the range. Take a safety course. Make a date out of it. You’ll get over your apprehension. I got a friend who is 100% anti-gun. I went over to his house one day and found an ax on the garage floor just lying there. I grabbed it and his hockey mask and walked up behind him. Game over, player. Gun ownership has made me more responsible, more aware of my surroundings and the potential danger of things. Don’t be the stereotypical wife and veto his dreams of protecting his family. Don’t do it, D. Next you’ll be telling him he can’t get that motorcycle. Yeah, I already know how you would react. He does too. 🙂 Surprise him. You set up the appointment to learn how to use/care for firearms. You’ll blow his mind. Better yet, get a weapon and personally hunt and kill your Thanksgiving turkey. Cook that bird proper(remember to get all the bird shot out before you stuff it) and serve it to him. He’ll be at a loss for words. Talk about killing two birds with one stone. 🙂

  3. I really appreciate your taking the time to read and comment 🙂 You bring up what my post does not; the statistical chances of the absolute worst thing occurring. Fear is a great paralysis, and I do recognize that the main thing preventing me from being all-in is a distinctly negative outlook on guns.

    But, as you said, insurance is a necessary evil, and it may be the most logical thing to lump guns along with that category. :).

  4. Hi, found your post through WordPress and hope you don’t mind if I comment as a father and gun owner.

    In reading your post, I see great concern about taking a life and see the mostly negative side. I would like to point out that using a firearm to take a life is the most incredibly remote possibility. It is necessary, even though the odds are small, because the stakes are so high.

    Consider the numbers (these come from the Center for Disease Control’s WISQAR site), in 2010, there were 59,344 firearm related injuries due to violence related activities and 11,422 fatalities for the same reason. Approximately 70,000 but that has to be measured against the entire population of the United States — over 300,000,000 people. 0.02666% of the population were injured or killed due to violence and firearms.

    And according to the F.B.I about 85% of all crime is drug and/or gang related with much of that violence being directed at other drug/gangs members. So unless your lifestyle involves that your odds drop dramatically. We really don’t have a ‘gun problem’ in this country; we have a violent crime problem — a ‘thug’ culture problem.

    Next, consider those numbers again in relation to what pro-rights advocates call “Defensive Gun Use” — an incident where a firearm is used to stop or prevent a crime. The lowest estimate of defensive gun uses is around 108,000 per year. The Kleck and Gertz study found up to 2.5 MILLION defensive gun uses per year — and this number was later confirmed by a study initiated by Bill Clinton. Most of the time, simple awareness (and you’ll become very aware of your surroundings if you carry a firearm) is enough to stop a crime from happening. Criminals want easy victims and they want people who wouldn’t be able to provide a good description.
    A great deal more crimes are stopped simply by people pulling or showing a firearm with very few cases of people having to actually shoot a criminal.

    This is easily shown by the ratio of injuries to fatalities; in the dispassionate view of things, there are remarkably few firearm related fatalities in the country.

    That is just the cold logical side of the issue; the other side is the emotional. I started carrying a pistol after long consideration, deep ethical/moral/religious study; and the realization that life insurance wasn’t enough. I realized that I owed it to my family to protect not only them but to protect myself so I could come home every day to them. Then don’t need just financial security but a parent taking every reasonable precaution so I can be in their lives as long as I can.

    I’ve been carrying for over 5 years now. I’ve had two situations (criminals “interviewing” me to see if I had money / so they could close the distance ) where I considered drawing my pistol. Both times my actions (moving away, turning to face them, telling them that is close enough, etc) stopped way short of having to draw.

    I was very glad that I didn’t have to do anything more; just like I’m very glad I haven’t had to use my air bags, catastrophic medical insurance, etc — I’m just glad all of those things are available just in case the worst happens.

  5. Thank you! Moneypenny has fired and M-16 before. I think it was in a camp while she was in high school. I’m not sure if she’s even fired or held a gun since then. If she asked I’d teach her but I’m not exactly Annie Oakley.

  6. Welcome! 🙂 I neglected to put a smiley face at the end of the paragraph about the pastor flipping out, but it was largely tongue-in-cheek. I remember the rash of assailants barging into churches and figured that was the cause.

    I’m unable to say how many Americans hold a cavalier attitude about gun ownership, but I do think it may be generational. The music of MIllenials does not encourage a responsible approach to possessing a firearm. This is not to say that we are solely influenced by the music, but I’m using the music as a reflection of our cultural ideals. I don’t consider it a straw man argument because it’s A truth in American, although not THE ONLY truth.

    At any rate, my ambivalence toward gun use is like yours, only you had to side step it in order to learn how to operate it and how to defend yourself. I may get there one day, seeing it as a tool no more dangerous than the knife with which I chop onions, but I’m definitely not there yet.

  7. Sure, I’d love to chime in. As the mother spoken of in this post, I’m compelled to mention that I have no concern that the pastor may flip out. However, there is the very real possibility that an assailant may enter the building intent on harming the (usually unarmed) congregants. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time it has happened.

    I believe your impression of gun owners has been shaped primarily by Hollywood and videos. Many of my friends, both close and casual, are gun owners and not one of them hold the cavalier position about firearms that you’ve described in your blog. This is generally true across the board. It’s very easy to use an aberration as a poster child example, however, that argument is a straw man.

    Most gun owners have absolutely no desire to harm another human. Nor is there a false assurance of invincibility simply by carrying. By definition, the assailant has the element of surprise because they alone are privy to their intent. Anything a carrier does is in response to what is taking place, which is a disadvantage. The carrier must overcome their own shock and disbelief that an assault is actually occurring before they can even begin to respond – if they can respond at all.

    I’ll tell you something you never knew. Yes, I’m an Army vet with M-16 experience. I never had any “head” problems with my M-16. Our country wasn’t at war and I didn’t think I’d ever fire it outside of the range. However, it took MANY gun range visits before I felt comfortable firing my Glock. The difference? I knew that if I ever needed to fire my weapon, there would NOT be a paper at the end of the barrel. I knew the situation would be grave and someone, either me or the assailant, may not be living after the encounter. The thought terrified me. Every single time I went to the range I was afraid. It dawned on me that gun safety forced me to think of the unthinkable – that we live in a violent culture where anything can happen anywhere, and I’m not physically in a position to effectively defend myself without a tool. I had to either depend on the untimely response of law enforcement, tools that required the assailant to be close enough to overpower and disarm me, or the unlikely compassion of an aggressor. I chose to reject options A-C.

    It’s not a “bang-bang” mentality. But if a weapon must go bang, I don’t want to be at the receiving end. Ditto for my husband, my children, my grandbaby, my son and daughter-in-law and my friends.

  8. I have thought about the idea of guns as a hobby not used for protection and aggression, but nothing about them really appeals to me. My parents are also an interesting mix of liberal and pro-gun with caveats.

    Congrats on your newlywed status 🙂 Does your wife know how to shoot a gun? Would you teach her if she doesn’t?

  9. In all of my liberalness I grew up in rural, southwestern South Carolina and too me guns are just tools and nothing more. My daddy had them and he instilled what my brothers and I can and should use them for. When I got married at the beginning of the month and moved in with Miss Moneypenny I put both of my guns in the closet next to the front door and have not looked at them since.

    I’m rather pro-gun-with tons of caveats. I like shooting and will admit to the thrill and fun of it. I have never in my life imagined what it would be like to shoot another man and I hope that I never have the need to do so.

    Part of America’s issues with firearms is that we fetishize them. Certain guns hold a special place in American lore. The Colt .45, the M1911, the Tommy Gun, the AK-47, Glocks, and various weapons carried by big screen icons like Dirty Harry. We have to change that aspect of ourselves before we can fully except that folks are reckless with firearms. I hope that day comes soon.

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