Culture

My First Gun

Last April, right after the horrific bombing in Boston, I wrote about how I “evolved” on guns the night of the manhunt for the two men thought to be responsible for the bombings. Here’s what I wrote last year:

First, a confession: I’ve never owned a gun. I never wanted one in my home and, like a lot of moms, I wanted to raise non-violent children and thought keeping guns out of our home was one way to do that … Then came the day of the Boston Marathon, where bombs set off by baby-faced terrorists killed 3 individuals and injured another 264. I spent the evening, all the way  into the next morning, listening to the Boston Police Scanner and followed social media online so I could see the progression of the search for the subjects in real time during the manhunt. At one point, someone tweeted this: “I’m halfway across the country but if someone knocked on my door right now I’d pee my pants.” A moment of levity during a very serious, very scary night. It was the moment I evolved on guns — the moment my support for the 2nd Amendment went from abstract to concrete.

I decided then and there that I could shoot someone in that situation and I wanted the ability to do it in case a terrorist ever walks through my front door, because merely “sheltering-in-place” isn’t going to protect me from the bad guys. My husband, being an experienced marksman, fully endorsed the idea of getting a gun.

The decision process became a little more complicated after that initial decision to purchase a gun for home protection. Figuring out which gun was right for us (out of the gazillions of choices) was even more difficult than finding the exact, right, blingy, perfect shoes to wear to my son’s wedding. Both are life-altering decisions and you want to choose wisely (the difference being that the wrong wedding shoe choice won’t result in a chalk outline of a body at the end of the day). It’s not a decision we took lightly.

AK47

We started our search at the home of a friend who lives nearby. He has a nice stockpile of guns and a small range set up behind his house. This was my first foray into gun culture. We tried out a variety of long guns, revolvers, and semi-automatic handguns. I decided that day that I wanted a handgun and was leaning toward a .45 semi-automatic because I liked the way it fired and felt in my hands. My only concern was with how hard it was to rack the slide (for anyone else who’s new at this, that’s gun talk for “I can’t move that slider thingy on the top that makes the gun ready to shoot”).

Fast-forward seven months and we finally stopped making excuses and just went and bought a gun. Between the civil unrest in Ferguson and other places in the country and the dozens of ads for firearms in our local newspaper leading up to Thanksgiving, we decided it was “time.”

My husband and I went to our first ever gun show straight from church on a recent Sunday (wearing our church clothes and looking really out of place with all the camo-clad folks who looked like they belonged and actually knew what they were doing).

20141130_154129

We were confronted by aisles and aisles of guns. Having never done this before, we were overwhelmed and just wandered around aimlessly for a while. Eventually we gathered enough courage to begin talking to dealers and sheepishly asking some questions. Though the guns were tied down, we found that dealers were happy to snip the plastic ties so I could try racking the slides on some models we were interested in. Some were easier than others, though some of the vendors insisted that with regular use and cleaning, they would all get easier (and a friend referred me to this video demonstrating an easy slide racking technique for women). Nevertheless, I didn’t want to count on a bunch of variables that might not come together as planned if an emergency arose, so we continued to look for one that felt good in my hands and was easy to rack.

We ended up with a Ruger LC9s 9 mm semi-automatic pistol.

It’s a beauty — easy to slide and it feels great in my hands. It’s well-balanced and although we plan to keep this one at the house, it’s small enough to be used as a concealed carry gun. And this is the end of my review of the LC9s because — clearly — this is way above my pay grade.

unnamed (17)

After filling out the required Department of Justice paperwork verifying that I am not a felon, a stalker, or an Hispanic (what’s up with that?), we drove home with the gun (in its smart little case and box) in my lap. I clung to it, afraid it would fall off my lap and shoot my eye out. I made sure the end of it was pointed away from the people in the car, even though I knew, logically, that there was no magazine in it and it wasn’t capable of shooting anyone. When we got home my husband wondered out loud if we might have broken any of the state’s gun laws about transporting a firearm.

Oh good gravy!

(Note to self: you’re grounded from touching that thing until you thoroughly understand the state’s gun laws.)

It’s going to take some time for me to get used to having a gun in the house. We plan to install a gun safe, but right now it’s just sitting in its box (in a plastic grocery bag!), hidden in a random place in our house (we don’t have children in the house so locking it up is not a pressing issue). I got it out of the box and examined it when we got home, but I haven’t touched it since then. I do slide the box out and look at it now and then, which is a start, I think.

The next step will be to start practicing at the range and in the backyard and, eventually, taking a concealed carry class.

For now, though, I’m getting used to the idea of having a gun in the house. Baby steps.

But I do feel a little bit safer because it’s here.

If something goes terribly wrong in our idyllic Wayne County (we do have a nasty Amish beard-cutting gang right up the road, as a matter of fact) and the police order us to shelter-in-place,  I don’t plan to be a sitting duck — I’ll be ready to protect myself.

Or at least I will be after a whole lot of target practice and a thorough review of the gun laws.

More from Michael Walsh: 

What Is It About ‘Progressives’ and Guns?