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?