I have a long and conflicted history with firearms. Mostly, I try not to think about it. Sometimes, it even works.
A while back, Barry Eisler did a couple of excellent posts on the sticky issue of guns in our societies. Barry is one scary-smart individual. No surprise his posts were so thought-provoking. I meant to blog a bit on the subject but never quite got around to it.
Then Marcus Sakey opened that can of worms again. Also a great post, by the way.
I totally agree with Marcus's thought. Holding a gun is cool. Firing it, even better. Problem comes from being at the other end of the barrel.
I was afraid a lot as a kid. We all were. It was like a mass mental illness, so many of us so isolated by our own fear of each other.
Growing up, the temptation to carry a gun was always there. Small calibre weapons with don't-ask histories were dirt cheap. And nobody much wanted to fuck with the kids who carried them.
But for me, back then, guns were a sucker bet. Carrying a gun meant arrest. It meant those gladiator schools they called juvenile halls, or worse. Using it might have led to the words 'tried as an adult.' I wasn't willing to gamble the possiblity of a future so that I could feel safe.
I was able to move to New Zealand because I had a college degree and no arrest record. Neither would've been the case if I'd taken up the gun then.
Later in life, as a tattooist, I found myself working around cash and lowlifes. Some nights, it was the law of the jungle in the studio. When I started carrying my .38, I quit having to throw people down flights of stairs. I was grateful for my gun, and I hated it, at the same time.
Sarah Paretsky, in her comment on Marcus's post, thought that carrying a gun might make people look for a chance to use it. I can only say that was never the case with me. I resented the way the gun took away the middle ground in a conflict. I couldn't risk a fistfight with a gun on my hip, couldn't risk anything that might lead to one. I was grateful for the trouble it kept me out of. I hated the fact that my only option was to kill.
One night a young girl, a street kid without much sense, tried to rob me at knifepoint. It was the first and only time I pointed my weapon at another human being. She left without my money, but I hated us both for creating that situation.
Now, I live in New Zealand. As Barry says about his time in Japan, there's no temptation to own or carry a gun here.
Nobody carries guns here, not even the cops. The higher class of criminal have them, of course, but pistols are like hens' teeth around here. With mandatory gun safes for firearm owners, there's no flood of illegal weapons from home burglaries. It feels safer.
The big question is, if I returned to the US, would I want to carry again?
That, I don't know...
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