I’m out for a very early morning walk with a woman friend.
She does not shoot, though she is starting to show interest. We’re walking down a long trail in a small city park, a large sprawling area with miles of trails, a lot of trees and a small river. A jogger passes us every 10 minutes or so, Barkley’s intent on sniffing out a cheeseburger someone just had to have left behind on the trail. She’s quiet and then the question comes out.
She looked at me and said, “you’re carrying, aren’t you?“.
I looked down at a hip length winter jacket over a T shirt, and couldn’t see the form of a holster or anything so I asked, “how can you tell“.
She said, “you carry yourself differently, there’s a different look in your eyes. I’ve seen that look when you work but not when you socialize”. She chuckled . . . “It’s a little scary“.
I grinned and said, “yes I am“.
She thought about and replied. “It’s daylight, we’re in a park with other people, why?” It wasn’t spoken with incrimination, simply curiosity.
So, I told her.
There is a part of it that is as simple as self-protection. My Dad went into the military as a police officer, my Mom was a Law Enforcement Officer as well. From her, I heard firsthand the abuses she saw against other women in the course of her work, women for whom their only crime was to be small and timid against a raging bully. Women who had yet to learn that evil does not go away by submitting, but by fighting back. So she taught me to shoot and the reasons for which she did needed no voice.
Individually, collectively I believe it’s a right of mine, as a law-abiding citizen, whether I am a LEO or not, male or female, large or small. That being the right to protect my body and my interests for which I’ve toiled. And I would defend with each breath, against any interference with that liberty on which our country was founded.
The Founding Fathers did not give us that right, they simply affirmed us that right, one over our own bodies and minds that was God-given long ago. But with the right comes obligation and responsibility. Our country was not founded on the principle that government would take care of our every need, including protecting us at every instance. To have the law enforcement power to achieve that alludes to an Orwellian world I would not wish to live in.
I carry because I am empowered with not just the right, but the duty to take care of myself. I am sovereign in my protection of myself, charged with that moral duty and supported by the Second Amendment and the steady hand that holds the grip. It is a decision that I alone make, to carry responsibly, to be proficient, to be sure. I can no more imagine giving that up, than the sibilant intake of breath as I squeeze the trigger.
Then there is simply the sheer love I have for that which is history, of the acts of courage that defined men’s freedom, of the mechanical workings of objects which support self-sufficiency and strength. Planes, trains, steam engines, old tools, and yes, the gun. There’s an attraction to old tools and old machines, the human values they represent. Nothing that withstands history gets built without the brilliance of design, a laboring effort and the dreams of man.
Some say a gun is a killing instrument. Man is a killing instrument. A gun is only a tool, from which we have the pure mechanical force which can keep one alive or take a life. As a tool, it is as weak or as strong as he or she who holds it, as good or as bad as the collective soul that keeps it in working order. The guns I own are defenders of good, soldier’s weapons, officer’s weapons, my weapons.
As a female, I am by most cultures considered weak, yet my will to survive is born out by a life that most would have shied away from. That strength, that utter potency of the will to live is instilled in some things more than others, and in my old weapons, I can feel it. Taking that, holding one in my hand, feeling the power and the recoil shudder through me is empowering. Using my own will and ability to place the precision of liberty onto a small piece of paper, it’s history. That of the past, that of my continued future. I shoot, be it for sport, for duty, or simply in practice of that which I hope never to have to encounter. I am ready. Tools in hand.