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Backwards Pistol

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?

Originally posted to razajac on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 07:52 AM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (6+ / 0-)

    Isn't it a good feeling when you see the paper in the morning, it says 'Axe Slayer Kills 19' and you say, "They can't pin that one on me!" - Jean Shepherd

    by razajac on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 07:52:53 AM PST

  •  Here's a true gun nut story (10+ / 0-)

    Background: A local 3 yr old child was killed, presumably by shooting himself in the head, last November.  The locals know the dad is into drugs, etc. but the paper and cops tell a different tale.  An "accident".

    I wanted to investigate myself, so (knowing nothing about guns) I walked into a gun shop and asked to view and handle one of the lightest weight semiauto pistols.  Now, we can be fairly sure that the drug dealers criteria of pistol ownership does not place weight at the top of the priorities list.  However, if a lightweight gun feels pretty substantial to me, that's a good indicator that this child probably couldn't handle it with enough dexterity to aim and fire at his own head.

    Story: So the counter help is friendly, and he points, immediately, to a bright, purply-pink colored gun.  Takes it from the case and offers it to me.  I started cracking up!  His response is a very stern look; "What's so funny?!!?" he says, like a father reading my report card littered with F's.  I said, "This is a killing machine.  And they thought to make a pink one, just for girly lil me!  That's so cute.  Got one trimmed in lace?"

    At that, another man emerges from a room behind the counter.  To help his friend.  Cause I guess he didn't feel safe around a 5' tall grandma with a sense of humor.

  •  Guns in the hands of kiddos (0+ / 0-)

    Keep the eye on the prize............

    State lawmakers look at stern rules for juveniles who illegally possess guns

    It is not good enough to starve the beast but tame it.

  •  i've got one (5+ / 0-)

    and it ain't pretty. I met a guy locally and we were socializing; he had made some chit-chat about having been in the Air Force or maybe it was the Navy , and had been on Ritalin for many years, and one night, when other folks who were socializing with him went home, he went to his kitchen, took out his pistol from a cabinet, loaded it (I was sitting by the fireplace at this point, watching the fire and getting ready to head home), cocked the pistol, walked over to me, and put the muzzle of the pistol to my head and told me I was going to have sex with him now.

    I don't know why I did this, but I looked up at him very deliberately, and gave him a huge, malevolent smile, and said nothing.  He drew the gun back, uncocked it, and went back into the kitchen.  I said "I'm going to go home now," and got out of there.  I drove - very quickly - to my office downtown, which is a secure pass-coded building, locked myself in, and when dawn came, I phoned the police.  They said they could not arrest him.

    I still can't explain why I reacted the way I did, but something about that smile must have frightened him more than the loaded gun did.

    "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

    by louisev on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 08:24:23 AM PST

    •  Maybe he thought (0+ / 0-)

      he was going to have sex with you any way and didn't need the gun.  

      Now why exactly could the police not arrest him?

      "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

      by newfie on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 08:54:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  because they said (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        historys mysteries, BusyinCA

        I couldn't prove anything and he would simply deny it.  I could get a restraining order, but they wouldn't charge him with the 'holdup.'

        "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

        by louisev on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 09:38:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And no action (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          historys mysteries

          has ever been taken when it is one person's word against another person's word.  Incredible.  They just didn't want to do the paperwork.

          "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

          by newfie on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 10:00:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I guess, I was too shook up at the moment (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            newfie, BusyinCA, splashy

            to tell the cops they weren't doing their job or that something more should be done.  fortunately, he never came after me.  I count that as my "near miss' but also it taught me an indelible lesson about people who tell me they have weapons.  To listen to them very carefully, because they are saying that for a reason.

            "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

            by louisev on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 11:51:05 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not you fault at all. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              And thank God the cops didn't get reminded of their job by him coming after you again.

              I have some sympathy for them in that aspects of the job can be a real PIA.  But the news clue for them is that many of us have jobs of which some (or many) aspects are a PIA.  Except in my case neglecting the PIA parts never results in someone getting killed or injured.

              "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

              by newfie on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 11:59:29 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  You need to open your mind (STORY INCLUDED) (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrblifil, Lily O Lady, murrayewv

    An 8-year-old boy died after accidentally shooting himself in the head while firing an Uzi submachine gun under adult supervision at a gun fair.
    The boy lost control of the weapon while firing it Sunday at the Machine Gun Shoot and Firearms Expo at the Westfield Sportsman’s Club, police Lt. Lawrence Vallierpratte said.
    Police said the boy, Christopher Bizilj of Ashford, Conn., was with a certified instructor and called the death a “self-inflicted accidental shooting.”
    As the boy fired the Uzi, "the front end of the weapon went up with the backfire and he ended up receiving a round in his head," police Lt. Hipolito Nunez said. The boy died at a hospital.
    Only on
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    The boy's father and older brother were also there at the time, a gun club member and school official said. Francis Mitchell, a longtime member and trustee of the club, said he was told the boy's father was supporting his son from behind when the shooting happened.

    •  was the "open your mind" comment for me? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      If it was, and I take no offense, there is a great difference in dexterity between an 8 yr old and a 3 yr old.  A tiny hand would require both on the gun, pointing it at his head and firing.  Its only my opinion, though.  

      •  My comment was snark.... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        historys mysteries, splashy

        Sorry.  It wasn't particularly meant for you.  In fact, I hadn't read your horrible story about the 3 year old.

        I was amazed when I heard someone had taken their kid to a gun show, let him fire an Uzi, and had it go out of control and hit him in the head.

        When it happened a few years ago, I remember thinking about the insanity of it.

        Newtown has seemed to open people's minds to the insanity of extreme gun culture in this country....

        Really?  A three year old?  An eight year old?

        •  we had a 2 year old shoot themselves with.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          daddy's concealed carry handgun while mom was belting the baby into the infant seat and dad was in the mall paying for the restaurant.  In the wilds of Ashland KY, a city of 25,000 he felt compelled to carry a loaded weapon and leave it where the child could get it.  Of course no charges were filed against the grieving parents.  If they killed their kid as drink drivers, would they have been charged?  I think so.

          You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

          by murrayewv on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 02:46:26 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yeah, what is that.... (0+ / 0-)

            Drunk driving is chargeable and this isn't, in real terms?

          •  OK, I just gotta ask (0+ / 0-)

            if you've ever fired.  Cause I find it hard to believe that a child of that age has the strength necessary to pull the trigger.  And the safety wasn't on? Where the hell was the gun?  I'm sorry, I'm trying to picture just doesn't add up.  Was the weapon modified to hair trigger sensitivity?  Jesus, I'm just sayin.  You're strapping a baby into an infant seat.  You are stretched across said infant, where is the gun?  On your body?  Shoulder holster, where?  And the baby is going to, in an instant, pull the gun from your body, turn it towards itself, pull the trigger....My God.  Sorry, I just don't believe it.  I'd have to see it with my own eyes, and I'm too cowardly to look.
            Sorry to Going that I didn't recognize snark.

            Please, sign and share.  We need help, all of us.

  •  I once worked with a true gun nut (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nance, Lily O Lady, BusyinCA, murrayewv

    He belonged to a Militia in upstate NY. They had "war games" two nights a week. He would always complain about how tired he was the mornings after these sessions.
    He quit that job and went elsewhere for work. (thank god)
    He is now serving a long sentence in a Federal Prison.

  •  ripped from today's headlines (5+ / 0-)

    The Atlanta Journal Constitution has another example that provides insight into the skewed mind of people who keep a gun "for protection."

    Man, 69, accused of killing man who went to wrong house

    Phillip Walker Sailors, 69, of Lilburn, was booked into the Gwinnett County jail Sunday afternoon and charged with murder for the death of Rodrigo Abad Diaz, according to jail records and his arrest warrant.

    Diaz, 22, was shot in the head Saturday night as he tried to drive away from Sailors’ home on Hillcrest Road in Lilburn, the warrant states.

    After seeing the car in his driveway, Sailors came out of his home, went back inside, then came out again with a gun and shot in the air, Yeson Jimenez, 15, told Channel 2. Jimenez said he and his brother were in the car with Diaz, along with a female passenger. Diaz tried to drive away, but Sailors shot again, striking Diaz in the head, according to police.

    But it's all cool. The attorney for the brave triggerman says Mr. Sailors has a sad "over the loss of life from the defense of his home."

    Right. The defense of his home.

    Just another responsible gun owner.  

    Just another needless death.

    •  I heard about his incident on the news. Really (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      splashy, murrayewv

      scary. They were going to pick someone up and mistakenly pulled into the wrong driveway. Before he could rectify his mistake, the driver was shot dead.

      Think about the times you've pulled into a driveway to turn around. It could cost you your life.

      "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

      by Lily O Lady on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 11:02:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I shot my brother (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    decembersue, splashy

    With a BB gun. Mom took the recently acquired guns away.

  •  Well, here's mine. (2+ / 0-)

    I was living back in the woods, and regularly walked out 35 acres alone. Borrowed a revolver to try out. Was enjoying the nice day when I heard a bunch of something coming toward me. Pack of 5 feral dogs came over the hill. Veered out of their track and split 2 and 3 when they saw me, heading my way. I shot first at the 3, then at the 2, sending them away with a couple of yelps.
    I bought the gun.

    Only thing more infuriating than an ignorant man is one who tries to make others ignorant for his own gain. Crashing Vor

    by emmasnacker on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 08:57:07 AM PST

    •  My husband was surrounded by (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      murrayewv, emmasnacker

      feral dogs, too. He was on duty with the Army in Egypt about 17 years ago. As part of his ongoing PT he went for runs in the area and in this instance was surrounded by feral dogs. He was unarmed because he was out for a run. Although concerned for his personal safety he kept his head and picked up some rocks and threw them at the leaders. The animals backed off.

      "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

      by Lily O Lady on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 11:07:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You don't need a gun to face them (0+ / 0-)

      They were likely wondering if you had something to eat, not wanting to attack you.

      When I worked as a garbage hauler there were dogs at the dump. They were far more interested in the garbage than they were interested in us.

      Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

      by splashy on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 12:21:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It is sometimes amazing to me that anyone is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stevie avebury

    left alive in gunland or anywhere near it. I guess some gun owners know what they are doing -- and a lot, like these idiots -- are just lucky.

    We have only just begun and none too soon.

    by global citizen on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 09:07:34 AM PST

    •  I am one of the lucky ones. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      global citizen

      I am very sure my father thought he was a responsible gun owner.  He talked the talk and pretended to walk the walk.
        He also got drunk and on a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon in 1979 ran down the street in nothing but a pair of jogging shorts shooting at the neighbors dog. Kids were all over the street too. We were lucky no one was hurt.
        I missed my brother and his best friend by only about a foot myself at one point.  Just blind stupid luck.  I guess the saying is true.  There is a god out there looking out for morons and little kids.

      That passed by; this can, too. - Deor

      by stevie avebury on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 09:20:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Once as a young kid (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BusyinCA, splashy, murrayewv

    I was walking with my brother and dog.  We were heading down to a friends house 5 houses along and were walking along the backs of the property between the houses and the fields and woods.  Apparently some kids thought it be funny to start taking shots at us with their bb guns - unbeknownst to us.  All we knew was the dog yelped, I felt a sting on my wrist and my brother felt one on his left temple.  We turned and ran home.  Dad headed off into the woods and found the boys and confiscated their guns.

    Another time as a teen I went over to another kid's house with a group of about 5 total.  As I was standing at the edge of the kitchen the kid who leveled there picked up his 22 and pointed it at me.  I ducked from the room to laughter and claism that it wasn't even loaded.  I stepped in the room again only for the same thing to happen.  I walked out and never went in that kid's house again.

    As a young father I was living on a farm in an exburb of Philly.  Out in the front yard watching my 2 y/o playing and chatting with the farmer.  We get treated to the sound of shotgun blasts followed by shot hitting the tin roof (numerous times) of the barn.  I grabbed my boy and ran into the house as the framer takes off through the tree line and into the neighboring field.  He ended up dressing down the 2 idiots who were birding and had absolutely no concern about the residence that they were firing toward.  He forced them out of the area.

    All examples of irresponsible ownership and use of weapons.  None of which reported to police.  SO any time someone tries to tell me that there are so many instances of a gun thwarting a crime or potential crime and not being reported I am reminded of all instances I know of that should have been reported.  

    "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

    by newfie on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 09:12:22 AM PST

    •  that reminds me of how when I was a kid (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      newfie, BusyinCA, splashy

      growing up in the Santa Cruz mountains in California, we'd find spent shells all over our property as the dove hunters came barrelling through, ignoring property lines and shooting whatever tehy wanted.

      There was a sense of entitlement there I never forgot, and I see it in some folks today around these issues.

      •  In the case of the hunters they (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        weren't hunting illegally they were violating the law by not attending to the direction of their fire.  The property to our south allowed folks to hunt.  But you aren't be very responsible if you don't know where the residential structures exist when you are doing your thing.

        "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

        by newfie on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 10:03:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Same thing in Coachella Valley.... (0+ / 0-)

        ...except that it really is scantly developed land, hence not a big deal when the hunters shoot upwards at the scattering birds.

        I remember I was hanging out in a date grove, and would occasionally hear birdshot "raining" down through the fronds.

        Isn't it a good feeling when you see the paper in the morning, it says 'Axe Slayer Kills 19' and you say, "They can't pin that one on me!" - Jean Shepherd

        by razajac on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 04:39:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •   the gun aficianado (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BusyinCA, splashy, murrayewv

    I interact wtih the most loves to tell the story of how he shot over a thousand pheasants in one season and then threw them all out. Not sure what to do with that one.

    Other than that, he also tells us how he carries his concealed handgun around all day to "protect" the rest of us. We work in a city that has only had a handful of murders in the last ten years, all involving men shooting their wives/girlfriends. I guess if I want to "protect" myself I should just avoid shacking up with him. Which, dare I say, won't be a problem...

  •  One time just past Kasi two federal police got on (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KVoimakas, 124NewYork

    the bus. They were dressed as always in civilian clothes. Button shirts, real shoes not flip flops, clean hair cut, instant once over of all on the bus.

    Slung over their backs were the folding stock AKs they all carry.

    This lady behind me asked what was wrong with my fellow Americans sitting 3 rows up. We were the only foreigners on the bus. One of the couple in their mid 30s was quietly sobbing making mewing sounds.

    I went up and stooping low so as to be below her at seat level I asked them if they were ok and what not. Her companion was staring into nowhere. They thought we were being held up. I explained that what they thought were teenagers were actually very well trained guys about the same age as them. They were there for our protection.

    Sometimes there's just no telling what folks think.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 12:02:58 PM PST

  •  Here's one on DK: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

    by KVoimakas on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 12:35:32 PM PST

  •  A mumbling stoic- soaked in blood (0+ / 0-)

    A ways back when I was in college there was this friend of some friends.
    My friends were nice guys. One was an earnest accounting student the other a bit of a would be iconoclast and experimenter. A self styled hippie slash Hunter S Thompson.

    Me- well, I guess somewhere in-between for the sake of brevity.

    Their friend, well, he was a mal adjusted, malcontent of a humanoid. Mal being the operative prefix. I don't know why they liked this old high school buddy and didn't much care as long as he kept his mitts off of me. He was a surly and violent person.
    He demonstrated a pronounced interest in martial arts and firearms. He also had a fondness for Quaaludes. A great combination, violent tendencies and Quaaluden.

    One fine evening we were all at his abode watching the idiot box, my least favorite activity but I wanted to accomodate my friends. It was a relatively cold day in that northern clime and "Billy Jack" had a blanket/comforter over his lower body as he sat on the sofa.
    As we sat and watched the 2 dimensional panorama he was mumbling periodically. Not unusual for him and I paid no attention. As long as he wasn't trying to strike out at me I didn't care much what he did.
    I noticed some fidgeting beneath the blanket and, putting aside more vulgur thoughts, hoped he wasn't reaching some kind of kinetic critical mass where he would strike out at someone.
    Suddenly there was a deafening report, a grimace (barely), and then a river of blood from beneath the blanket.
    Here he had a gun under there unbeknownst to any of us! In his agitated fidgeting he had discharged the thing, severing his Femoral artery.
    Fortunately for him 2 of us had some modicum of first aid skill and applied a tourniquet. Fortunately for him also emergency services were close at hand.

    Although my 2 friends and I associated for another year or two I never saw him again, and didn't miss him.

    •  Man, that's fuckin' heavy.Thx for relating it. n/t (0+ / 0-)

      Isn't it a good feeling when you see the paper in the morning, it says 'Axe Slayer Kills 19' and you say, "They can't pin that one on me!" - Jean Shepherd

      by razajac on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 04:43:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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