Volume 84: A 2nd Amendment Revelation…

Posted on 07/05/2016

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I shot a gun.

Yes, for the first time in my 40-plus years of living, I shot a gun. In fact, I shot several guns. I shot a rifle. I shot two handguns. I watched in amazement as the packed gun range came alive with an arsenal of weapons. I watched men with their friends, and fathers with their sons (and a daughter) discussing, examining, admiring, and shooting guns. As I stood there trying to overcome my natural instinct to duck-and-run when hearing a gun shot, I came to one sobering realization. No, it was more like a revelation. It was there I understood that gun control in America is not going to happen.

The Second Amendment lays the foundation, but it’s much more than protection of rights, or paranoia, or less government. It’s about camaraderie.

I went to the range with three men that were either veterans of the military or hunters or both. They had light years more experience with guns than I did. BUT, the feeling I had today was the same feeling I had when the four of us went to play golf. It wasn’t about the guns as much as the golf wasn’t about the game. It was about men bonding with each other. It was about sharing your experiences – great or small – and learning from each other. It was four men doing something manly. We shot guns. And that’s what men do.

Now, you may be asking the same question my wife asked. Did I like it? My answer to you is the same I gave her. Yes and no. Yes, because there is an overwhelming feeling of power you get by firing one. (Note: That’s another reason gun control won’t happen.) No, because I couldn’t help thinking this is an instrument of death. Yes, because my competitive drive would not and could not leave without hitting that damn target at least once. No, because I didn’t and don’t have a context of enjoyment with gun. Yes, because I enjoyed trying a new activity with “the guys”. And no, because I didn’t want to.

It’s been said “Guns don’t kill. People do.” At the same time, guns provide the ability to choose life or death. That’s too much for any man to decide.

I’ve written about stretching the boundaries of your comfort zone before. I was uncomfortable with the idea of shooting a gun. We’ve all seen the stories of mass shootings. I’ve had people I know get shot by guns. I’ve even been on the wrong end of one as I was being robbed. Needless to say, my personal and political views on guns tends to lean more on the liberal side of the equation. At the same time, I challenged myself with this exercise. I put all my fears and reservations and frustrations aside and aimed. Several shots later, I “get” it.

My stance on guns experienced a paradigm shift. I can no longer stand on my high horse and say, “I’ve never shot a gun.” That’s the quickest way to turn a good discussion on gun control into a “you don’t know what you’re talking about” accusation. Nevertheless my one experience with guns doesn’t make me an authority. Far from it. However, could I truly criticize Congress or the NRA, or my neighbors for their views without trying to understand it more? As someone who believes himself to be a drum major for social justice, sweeping condemnation of guns and gun ownership is discriminatory and dismissive. I would risk being a hypocrite if I were to do this.

Like it or not, guns are a part of American culture. If we listen more without filtering it through our biases, understanding is the inevitable result. Understanding is not the same as agreement. It just softens the vitriol and hyperbole associated with socio-political discussions.

Conclusion

I wish we lived in a world where we could all agree. Universal agreement sounds utopian. Then again, without disagreement, we wouldn’t have a United States of America. Without disagreement we wouldn’t have recognized the atrocities of slavery or included women in voting. Hell, without disagreement, we would never know the joys of debating Tupac vs. Biggie (I stand with Biggie).

It could be said that disagreement is paramount to progress. But disagreement without understanding is what leads to conflict and chaos. Disagreement without empathy is the path to distrust and dehumanization.  And ultimately, disagreement without compassion can lead to division and destruction. My gun experience led to a revelation, and the revelation led to understanding (with compassion). I don’t know if I’ll ever own a gun, or if the gun debate will ever get settled. What I do know is that any attempt to severely restrict a person’s right to do so will be shot down (pun intended).

#my3cents

Sillethoughts

“Peep my ver-na-cular cuz I don’t know how to act…”

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