I grew up with guns. Like most kids from Michigan, I had more than one gun in my house. Before the age of 16, I had shot a gun. My Dad would open the lock box and hand each pistol, each rifle to me, and explain in his engineering way how they worked. On summer mornings, I’d wake up to the sound of gunshots popping in the air at one of the several ranges within a few miles of my home. Guns were normal.
They were “boomsticks” for comic relief in the Powerpuff Girls – gags that accidentally went off and shot gun powder all over Elmer Fudd’s face. My friends shot squirrels in their back yard. My brother owned airsoft guns and shot a plastic pebble at my leg from two feet away… and boy, oh boy you best believe I played that up and made sure he got in trouble. We were taught to never, ever point a gun – a toy or otherwise – at another human being. Ever. I never owned a gun or had unlimited access to guns, neither did my siblings.
Guns were a symbol of pride. They were a tool, a weapon, but also a representation of life, of living. They were safety and protection. Guns were a symbolic and actualized source of nourishment and survival. I listened to stories about digging bullets out from carcasses after deer and pheasant hunting trips. I ate those pheasants on Christmas Eve. I’ve been encouraged to own a handgun for protection, to learn about guns, and to get my concealed carry permit. My Dad told me a story about his father who was once confronted in downtown Detroit by someone trying to rob the family, but he didn’t flinch. He stood up to the man. He was fearless in the face of a gun: the ultimate hero.
I have an affection for guns, and the generation before me has an even stronger one.
Guns are easy to love.
But not only can guns be feared or loved, they can be owned out of fear or love. Assault riffles (and riffles styled or modified to resemble military weapons in form and function) are only for those who are afraid, this is the most deadly combination of an individual human and tool that I can think of.
When we talk about restricting guns of any kind it hits an instinctual sore spot. It cuts at the deepest point of pride for many Americans. We built our country on the right to bear arms because – like a recently liberated teen who emancipated themselves from their abusive parents – we have the insecure desire to cling to what liberated us in the first place…. self-determination, independence, and guns. Guns equate to safety.
But we’re not that teenager anymore. We’re safe and we’re a grown ass (wo)man, America. We don’t have to cling to those insecurities. We’re too strong for that! We can do what adults do: be flexible, understanding… and compromise.
I mostly want you to understand the other side – I mean really understand it. I’m not talking about liberals understanding conservatives, I’m talking to the gun lovers. I want you to understanding that it’s okay to still love your guns and also want to keep them out of the hands of children. We don’t need assault rifles. We don’t need stockpiles. There’s no love in that, so we need to let go of the past a little bit. It’s 2018, we have bigger fish to fry. We are not cowards. Let’s grow together towards solutions. I’m sick of the divide. We’re all too similar for that.
The British aren’t coming. Nobody is trying to take away our hunting rifles. Our concealed carry permits are still valid. Guns can be our friends, but gun lobbyists and the NRA can not be. There is a difference. Please, please see that difference.
We don’t have to put away our guns, but we have to do something and we have to do it now. We can’t have another funeral.