So, last weekend, my family went to Gun Camp. No, I’m serious. Being from the country, I wasn’t all that surprised when my dad gave us handguns as soon as we tied the knot, but a four-day defensive handgun training?! To be honest, I thought it was a bit much. I’d been shooting soda cans and pinecones and the occasional rodent since I was 13, what do I need with Gun Camp? Also, our friends think we’re crazy.
We did too.
My poor dad endured some ribbing, but he stuck to his guns. (Haha.) My mom and sister-in-law weren’t particularly pumped about this family vacation either, but we all trooped out to Pahrump, Nevada, to Front Sight Firearms Training Institute for our four days of family-bonding, handgun-shooting fun.
And I have to admit something. It was great. Really. I’m not just writing this because my mom and dad are my only readers. Even if other people were reading this, I would admit that it was a great experience, but I would probably get teased a lot more.
So here’s the thing. I was skeptical, so I understand why eyebrows raise a bit when I try to explain what we learned and how I think it is inherently valuable and not just something for radical militia members or Bubba the heartless baby seal killer. (Side-note: Who is Bubba, you ask? He’s every redneck any of us have ever known who owns a gun and uses it a) when intoxicated b) when stupid or c) all of the above. He is the caricature of every gun owner in America, and the reason why so many of us are scared of guns instead of people. He’s heartless, dumb and uncaring, three things that none of us want to be, so we run the other direction, blandly rendering our guns useless out of fear that we, too, might become Bubba overnight if we’re not careful about locking up said firearms.*)
Our instructors at Front Sight, (and our fellow students) were anything but Bubba. They were kind, chivalrous and from what I could tell, had a broad-based and well-toned sense of personal responsibility. They didn’t assume that every easily profiled individual was a bloodthirsty criminal, but they didn’t assume that evil things don’t happen, either. They had a balanced and nuanced sense that bad things happen, that there’s a good guy and a bad guy in every storyline, and that sometimes it’s up to us to protect ourselves and our loved ones. I know I’m starting to sound like a gun-toting crazy here, but hear me out. By the end of four days, I could fix any jam in my handgun, fire a controlled pair to the target at 15 yards within 2.5 seconds, confidently pull the gun out of my holster quickly and safely and begin to feel comfortable with the whole thing; not in a, “my politics agree with gun-ownership so I generally like the idea” but in a real-life sense, that I realize that I’m holding a weapon that can easily kill people and I know how to use it safely, for protection and not in irrational fear or misplaced overconfidence.
Because that’s what we’re uncomfortable with, isn’t it? I understand the moms who “don’t like guns” and won’t let their kids play with toy guns, but they have an irrational fear. Instead of teaching their child the difference between good and evil, “good guys and bad guys”, and defense and aggression, they simply take the toy away and assume that the unavailability of a mock firearm will help their child be nonviolent. On the other hand, we have the “Bubbas” of the world, who assume that they know much more than they actually do about firearms, don’t treat their weapons with respect and make rookie mistakes which, when we’re talking about guns, can be fatal. These kinds of mistakes only lead to the fears of the afore-mentioned moms (and dads and the rest of non-rural America), and before we know it, we have a nation of people who’ve forgotten what it’s like to take personal responsibility for our property and safety, either out of fear or incompetence.
Now, understand. I’m not trying to make anybody feel bad about having a fear of guns or for your personal choices about whether or not to own one. I think a healthy fear and respect of guns is a good thing, and certainly don’t get a gun if you don’t know how to use it. But I am saying this: we’ve been manipulated into forgetting who our enemies really are. In California “mean-looking” guns are prohibited, as are “high-capacity” magazines. Because if your gun looks like a tactical weapon or if you can carry 16 rounds of ammunition instead of 10, well, then, you really intend to kill innocents.
It’s just crazy-talk.
There’s no logical reason behind these laws, other than using our own fear and ignorance to intrude on 2nd Amendment rights. We’ve all heard our NRA friends say that “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” and while it’s true, we still roll our eyes and don’t like it. Why? Because we want to believe that if we can just get rid of guns, nobody would get hurt. We want to think that mean-looking weapons are to blame for every car-jacking, for every store clerk who gets held up. The truth is that Brian David Mitchell took Elizabeth Smart out of her bedroom with a small knife, that we only put ourselves at risk by not using these tools to stop evil and protect those we love. (I’m not anti-law enforcement, here, and I’m not by any means suggesting that we make a lynch mob or something. But in L.A. the average response time to a 911 call is 6 minutes and 42 seconds. Are you willing to bet that you can keep the bad guys from hurting your family until the police arrive? How?)
The 2nd Amendment was written because the Founders understood that people can be redeemed, but that some choose not to be. From those people, who have chosen to live outside the law, we need protection. For myself, if somebody wants to take my TV, they can have it. But if they want to take my husband, my (future) babies, or myself, I want to be able to stop them.
So, I guess what I’m saying is, it’s time to get a gun.
*Guys, calm down. I don’t want little kids playing with guns and getting shot. I understand that responsibility is important, but I also see the folly in locking up my only means of protection in the trunk with the magazine removed… that’ll do me oodles of good in a car-jacking. There’s got to be a balance, is all I’m saying.