My Personal Love/Hate Relationship With Guns

Lately all my friends at work have been getting more and more into buying guns and ammo, and gun culture in general. One of my best friends has a concealed carry and he keeps a gun on him at all times. A couple of my other friends are former military men who have firearms, in part I’d imagine, as a way to maintain that link between them and the Armed Forces. These guys all give me a hard time for not jumping on board with them.

I grew up around firearms. My dad is a collector, and I’ve done my share of shooting. I own several rifles and a shotgun, and I never mind joining in the discussion about guns, but I can’t join in on the hobby.

I have a moderate case of corneal abrasion on my eyes as a result of a job in my youth where I operated industrial line trimmers and blowers without eye protection. Years of sand and other debris irreparably damaged my corneas. Regardless of which contacts or glasses I wear, I have trouble seeing. Almost everything is cloudy, all the time, and I have an especially difficult time with one eye closed while aiming down the sights of a gun.

That doesn’t deter my interest in the topic, however. The artistry, design, and engineering inherent to firearms is enchanting. I’m fascinated by all the attachments that can be added and modifications that can be performed to maximize a gun’s effectiveness for a particular application. Firearms are aesthetically beautiful and physically – and symbolically – powerful.

The main problem I have – even bigger than the issue with my eyes, is that guns scare the shit out of me.

It doesn’t scare me that other people have them, or to be around them outside my own home, but I’m terrified to have them under my roof, especially handguns.

When I was 15, in the depths of the worst depression I’ve ever known, I often found myself sitting in my room contemplating the ridiculously foolish, unbelievably selfish, absolutely unforgivable act of suicide. I’m not proud of that. I’m ashamed of it, and it’s embarrassing and difficult to discuss.

I would pull a pistol from my dad’s collection, and I’d hold it for a while, feeling the cold steel on my skin. I’d look at it closely, studying the lines of the barrel. I’d take note of the way the markings had been ethched in the metal, and how the grip had been contoured and crosshatched.

After careful consideration of the majesty of the weapon in my hands, I’d pull the slide back and load it with a single brass shell, acknowledging the weight of the lead at the tip. And then I would slip the muzzle past my quivering lips and the steel would chatter against my teeth.

All the while, I would be crying, thinking about the kind of legacy I’d be leaving behind. I’d think about my mom and dad and wonder how hard it might be for them to carry on. And after the longest minutes of my life, I would catch myself.

I would remove the gun, unload it, stow it in its place, and try to breathe. I will never forget feeling the unusual mixture of triumph and failure simultaneously.

As much as I respect firearms, and as many times as I’ve thought how I would like to have a handgun, I have to step back and reconsider. It took me nearly 15 years to forget what the barrel of a gun tastes like. I never want to be reminded, and I don’t want my children to ever know what it’s like to feel something so humiliating… or worse.

-J

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~ by hamiltonjacobs on November 22, 2013.

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