With all the recent media and popular reflection on the gun culture leviathan to which Americans are heir, I got to sifting through my own memories. Over my near-58 years, there have been times when gun enthusiast co-workers or associates sought to get me to rethink my position on gun ownership.
And to do so, they dug into their own troves of experience and pulled out something that, one supposes, was the best they could do. Let's walk down this little collective memory lane together, shall we?
And I hope this may cause others in this forum to do the same and contribute something to this narrative. What is the story and glory of private, "self-protective" gun ownership, seen through our own actual eyes?
After the jump....
It's not very often that one encounters a true gun nut. Most people with guns have them for sport, and use them carefully and mindfully. Heck, even most guns nuts have a fairly boring relationship with their guns... but sometimes there is a difference. Occastionally, a gun nut feels compelled to defend their lifestyle, and will grab your lapel and relate a personal story that purports to redeem their lifestyle choice.
And it has never (to my experience) gone well.
Here we go:
* One co-worker was an all-'round right-winger, albeit one who prided himself in eschewing Limbaugh and hewing to Wm. Buckley, Jr. We talked at great length on politics, and more than a few times about guns. One time, he decided to hazard relating a personal story which would help me understand the tangible benefits of handgun ownership to him. He saw a shadowy figure running across his back lawn at night. This person seemed suspicious to him, so he grabbed his piece and went off in pursuit. He wound up in the alley, his back against someone's garage, feeling the adrenaline, anticipating a possible encounter with a supposed malefactor. End of story.
* Another co-worker was a real right-winger, and a strange melange of young grandmotherly type, with a hefty dose of proto-teapartier (this was around 1994). She'd posted a rather unthinking anti-waiting-period cartoon on her cubicle. I don't remember the details, but I'm pretty sure I recall pointing out to her the irrationality of the "gag". Anyway, she felt compelled to tell me a presumably redemptive personal story about her own handgun ownership, and the best she could do was tell me about the time she came within seconds of plugging her own husband in the middle of the night.
* I was a regular attendee at a weekly juggling club downtown. Another regular participant was a young right-wing buck with a chip on his shoulder against liberalism, a plethora of right-wing/survivalist talking points, and a strong belief that his life in the city wouldn't be complete unless he had ready access to a firearm. One evening, after the juggling activities had slowed down and folks were mostly just sitting around and chatting, we got into it about the gun thing. The crowning anecdote in his effort to bring me around on the issue was... wait for it... to tell me he had a friend who had been a sniper for the Project Phoenix program in Vietnam, and to detail for me how one snipes human targets from 300 meters away. He tells this story, then gives it a rest, as though this was supposed to give me the last bit of the informational puzzle I needed for it to all begin to make sense.
So, there you have it. There were other interesting encounters with gun people, but the three stories above have in common 1) the "enthusiast factor", and 2) that these anecdotes were related to me specifically in an effort to add a personal touch to an otherwise sterile exercise in abstract reasoning on the issue of private "protective" handgun ownership.
And these efforts fell seriously short. Come to think of it, my response, at the time, to each of these stories adds a third commonality: 3) "?!?!? Uh... Is that really the end of the story? Did you think you were in the process of enlightening me about something?"
How about you? Has anyone out there heard a true tale of true handgun-aided heroism?