Tag Archives: gun ownership

Gun Number Two

After Gun Number One was stolen, it was about ten years before I bought another one.  I would like to have had another one just like the first one, because I was familiar with it, but they didn’t have one…because I bought it at a gun show.

The reason I bought another gun is that I was getting ready to move from Memphis to New Orleans, and I thought of New Orleans as this very dangerous place.  How funny.  Because I already lived in one of the most dangerous cities in the country.  But I didn’t know.

This time I bought another Smith & Wesson with a 4-inch barrel.  Technically, I bought it, but.  At the time I was friends with, and sometimes dated, an ex-police officer.  It turned out that I would have had to go through the background check and 15 day waiting period, but ex-police officers did not.  (What is wrong with this picture?)  So we put the gun in his name and I took it home that day.

I moved to New Orleans in August of 1992, and in January of 1993, I bought a house.  A couple of guys who worked with me at McDonald’s helped me move my meager possessions from my friends’ house where I’d been living.  At the end, I was about to write them a check, and they said they would prefer to get paid in cash.  No problem, I said.  Sit tight, and I’ll go to the ATM.  It never dawned on me to be concerned that I was leaving them alone in my new house.

Certain things I moved myself…my jewelry and my gun and other personal items, so they never even saw the gun.  But as I later guessed, leaving them alone gave them time to search.

I had an alarm system installed.  Two or three months later I got a call from the alarm company, saying the alarm was sounding.  When I got home, the glass in the front door had been broken (it was a very old door and the top half was glass).  There were a couple of people hanging around on the sidewalk trying to be helpful.  They said they had seen a guy in a hoodie standing in the doorway.  He just waited until the siren quit sounding and strolled away.

I was at least smart enough to wait for the police though before I went into the house.  It took them forever to get there.  One of the arguments people make for gun ownership, and I think it’s a good one.  Depending on where you live, you can’t always wait for the police to get there.

When we went inside, only one thing was missing.  You guessed it, the gun.

So now I’ve had two guns, and both of them were stolen.  I wasn’t scared of guns.  I knew how to use them.  I had gotten past the “can you kill somebody” point.  But for months, I was afraid.  I was afraid the people who took my gun would come back and hurt me, kill me, or take everything else.  I vowed I would never have another gun.  It’s been 20 years now, and I’ve kept that vow, and slept more easily.

Since then, I’ve had dogs.  That isn’t a foolproof method of protection, since an armed burglar can shoot the dog.  In fact, during this burglary, the burglars hurt my dog. He had recently had surgery for a broken leg and when I went inside, he was bleeding at the hip, where he had pins.  They had to remove the pins and let his leg heal as it might.  You could make the argument that that killed him, since later in life he had such severe arthritis that he had to be put down.  For that alone, if I’d still had my gun and knew who had done it, I would have killed them.  How could you hurt a helpless and injured dog, who probably only barked in a feeble effort to protect his territory?

Now.  The gun enthusiasts on Facebook think I am somehow against the 2nd Amendment, that I am for coming to take away their guns, that if I’m not with them I’m against them, that I’m a Liberal who wants government control of all your individual rights, etc., ad nauseum. I just get lumped in with with people who have never owned guns and don’t understand why anyone would want to.  This is not true.  If the gun enthusiasts are listening, I hope this will clear some of that up.

The problem is they aren’t listening.

We need better gun control, and it will take everybody to accomplish it.

Gun Number One

Or, Why I Don’t Own A Gun Anymore.

I bought my first handgun when I was in my mid-twenties.  Here’s what happened.

I was living on the top floor of a quadruplex in midtown Memphis.  It was a “shotgun” arrangement.  Bedroom in the front, bathroom, dining room, living room, kitchen, all lined up in a straight line from front to back.  For some reason I can’t recall, I decided to sleep in the “dining room”.

It was a pretty neat place.  On the other side of the top floor was a young married couple, the woman was named Claudia.  Claudia and I had much in common, and became friends.  We had balconies outside our “bedrooms” which were accessed by a set of floor-to-ceiling windows rather than a door.  We filled our balconies with houseplants from spring through fall.  We also loved flowers, and spent many Saturdays going together to junk stores, searching for flower vases and decorative “frogs”–the things you put in the bottom of vases to separate flower stems. Then we would go to a sort of flea market, have barbecue, and buy fresh flowers for the week.

Claudia also loved cats, as did I.  She had two Burmese cats, the youngest of which we referred to as the watchcat.  If you knocked on her door, the watchcat would proceed to howl in that strangely human way they have, like Siamese cats do.  He was also an attack cat.  Once the door was opened, he would attack your ankles in spite of the fact that you were being welcomed into the apartment by his owners.

I too had a cat, and one day she had kittens.  Sometimes I would put them on the bed and play with them before putting them back in the closet where they were born.  Then one day, I was sitting out on the balcony, and a guy next door, who lived in an identical building, on the side next to mine, said, How are the kittens?

I said, How do you know I have kittens?  He said, I’ve seen you through the window, playing with them on your bed.  Oh. My. God.  So I bought a gun.

First I sought advice from an ex-military acquaintance.  His first question was, Can you kill somebody? Because if you can’t, there’s no point in you buying a gun.  And don’t answer now.  Go home and think about it.  We’ll talk later.

After many sleepless nights, I went back and said, Yes.  I would hate it.  I might have nightmares for the rest of my life.  But if it was down to me or them, I would always want it to be them.

He said, then you’re ready, and gave me advice on what to buy.  I bought a snubnose .38 Smith and Wesson.  The advice was, buy something light enough for you to handle, but something with stopping power.  No girl guns.  I bought it at a gun shop called American Firearms or something like that.  I had to undergo a background check and wait 15 days to get the gun.

My acquaintance, whose name I have sadly forgotten, promised to show me how to use it.

Lesson Number One:  Dry-firing.  Unloaded, point the gun at things and pretend to shoot them.  You will get the feel of the gun and its trigger, and lose your fear of the gun.

I did not grow up around guns.  When I was a small child, my father used to hunt, so he must have had a shotgun. One day I came across him and his hunting partner gutting and cleaning a squirrel they had killed.  I was horrified.  I burst into tears and ran back into the house.  My father never hunted again.

Once I got the gun, my Saturday flower-hunting was replaced by Saturdays at the shooting range.  (In addition to the feel, you have to get used to the noise, which is startling.)  My acquaintance/teacher taught me gun basics.  Don’t ever point it at anyone unless you intend to shoot.  Don’t ever shoot unless you intend to kill, because you are never going to be good enough to aim to wound.  Aim for the central mass of the person.

Slowly I absorbed these lessons, and it became about accuracy.  My gun did not have much of a range, so my targets would be like 25 feet or closer, and my acquaintance/teacher’s targets would be like 50 or 100 feet.  He said I didn’t need anything closer than that range, because if I ever had to use the gun, it would be when somebody was already in my apartment.

Next post:  So whatever happened to that gun?