First, a little history for context.
I grew up around guns, mostly shotguns and rifles. My grandfather worked at Mossberg Rifles. I have hunters in my family.
I’m also a dedicated leftist who understands statistics. Most guns are not used to overthrow authoritarian governments in the U.S. They are used in domestic violence.
To confuse things even more, as a transwoman, I am acutely aware that a lot of people who literally resent the fact that I exist are very well armed. Few marginalized people run to the police for help, as there is no guarantee that they will not make it worse.
With all this ambivalence in mind, I signed up for a handgun safety course. It’s the first step towards getting a licence, something I have no immediate plans for. Not NRA, but a socialist group. An ad came up in my Facebook feed from the NRA, and I commented something about gun training for white supremacists. Within minutes, I got a test from the Socialist Rifle Association. They hooked me up with a class of LGBT individuals, which suited me better. I felt I had to try it out, to see for myself.
I do well on written tests, and the safety information is critical. No problem there.
The course also included a range test. The challenge was to hit the target 20/25 shots, at 25′. I had mixed emotions about even holding a handgun, never mind firing one.
Back to my youth. I am very comfortable with a rifle, and have fired one many times. No expert, but not a bad shot. I can use a shotgun. Only once had I ever fired a handgun prior. I was about 15, in Arizona, visiting my racist uncle and gun enthusiast. He shot rattlesnakes and made things from their skin. Of course, as a passage of “manhood” or something – ah, those horrid days before transition – he invited me to fire his handgun. The invitation was not extended to my sister.
I don’t remember too much about the experience, honestly, except some comment about a “limp wrist” from my uncle, with all the rampant homophobia the comment was meant to imply.
Ambivalence. I actually liked the feel of the gun in my hand. I like target practice, and a paranoid part of my brain worries that I will be attacked, and wishes I had the means to protect myself.
The image included is a photo of my range test. I landed every bullet, including many, many “kill shots.” Decent clustering and a lot very near the center.
Conclusion: pride? Am I a prodigy? Or is it just that easy to kill another human?
I do not believe I am a prodigy with guns. I can’t say I didn’t have a little pride about my skill, but the far stronger feeling was absolute horror.
It’s way to easy to kill in this society.
Literally almost anyone with $1,000.00 dollars, a bad attitude and the ability to point can do it.
Again, I already knew the statistics. Numbers swayed me more than the culture within which I grew up. But still. The fact of it stared me in the face. The emotional reaction of seeing this first hand was far more powerful than playing with numbers.
I literally know a parent from Sandy Hook. I bathe in compassion. I was working in public education when it happened, and the impact was strong. People I knew and worked with lost friends. Even the emotional impact of this event, just across the small state of Connecticut from me, paled in comparison to seeing my own work. To seeing, experiencing, firsthand, just how stinking easy it is to kill someone in this society.
I am appalled. No-one should have this much power. No one. Not cops, not “good guys with a gun” (aren’t they ALL good guys? Everyone thinks they are, including men who murder their wives with these weapons). No one.
Handguns are manufactured for one purpose, and one purpose only. To kill other humans.
We in the U.S. live in a culture where a women’s access to contraceptives is being debated. Where a Black person’s right to vote, heck, to walk down the street, is in question. Where many LGBTGQ humans are routinely shunned by their own families, where it is legal to fire us, even kill us.
One thing that is rarely questioned is the “Right to Bear Arms.” Nevermind that this part of the Constitution specifically mentions a “well-regulated militia.” Nevermind that the Founders were referring to muskets, which fire about one shot a minute, not automatic weapons that fire up to 1,000 times faster than that. The assault weapons ban expired, and was never renewed. Since then, mass shootings have risen so quickly, they have become normal.
My final thought, a question: Why is it so easy to kill in the U.S., but so hard to live?