I don't own a gun. I don't want to own a gun. Violence, in my opinion, begats violence.
I'm not afraid of guns. I grew up with them, learned how to shoot, learned all the safety rules. As a child, I knew at least one gun was kept in the house for protection purposes and, for some reason, knowing it was there made my parents more comfortable about leaving me home alone.
Just about then, I realized having the gun didn't make much sense. Having it hidden wasn't going to give me time to react and use it, if necessary, especially since guns should never be kept loaded when not in use. Having it within easy access is plain old stupid. Have you ever seen how dumb people get with guns?
I've got kids in the house. My kids understand firearms and the rules. They know where they are in my Dad's house, and they've never touched them. My kids also have it drummed into their brains what to do if, while visiting a friend, the friend brings out a weapon to play with. We got to see their training in action, in fact, this fall, when the son of a friend's friend had a realistic toy gun. The kid was pretending to shoot people and then handed the gun to my son. He looked over at me, said he didn't think this was a toy for kids, then went and told the boy's mother he was playing with a gun. Kids with guns are scary -- especially realistic-looking toys. All it takes is one time to pick up a real one by mistake.
Hide a gun in my purse or car? Would I react fast enough to use it? Worse yet, what if the purse or car gets stolen? What good does it do for me then? What harm can it do in the hands of someone less careful than I?
No, I think owning firearms for protection only makes things worse. It validates violence because it gives "nonviolent" people a reason or excuse to be violent. When does protecting yourself and your property go too far? Shooting a kid because he rings your doorbell by mistake? Is that okay?
I'm more afraid of the people protecting themselves from violence than I am from violent criminals. Somewhere, we've got to say "enough's enough."
I'll keep my dog as protection, thank you very much. Maybe she won't save my life, but then, maybe she will. She's also much nicer to cuddle.
If you want to know more about staying safe, with or without guns, read Debra Lottlejohn Shinder's article "Staying Safe--Armed or Not".
Sue Marquette Poremba is working on a master's degree in political science and women's studies. She is also the co-moderater of an online discussion group for who who are writers and artists. Comments can be sent to Sue Marquette Poremba at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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