Monday, July 21, 2008
The first time I shot a gun, I cried.

See, the instructor was telling me to "squeeze the trigger--be gentle with it--like a baby--just squeeze it--" and I'm squinting at my sights and I'm trying to see my target and I'm just hovering on that trigger, nudging it back little by little and then BANG, the gun goes off.

The barrel jerks upward.

A hot shell flies down my shirt, burning my breast. Adrenaline rushes at the sound and the smell of the gun smoke and I am scared, I mean, fucking TERRIFIED of that sound still ringing in my ears, even with the orange headphones hugging my ears.

Shooting a gun, even at a paper target, is a violent act.

Owning a gun, whether it's a right, or a defense, or hunting paraphernalia, or a tactical sport, is engaging in violence. Teaching children how to safely handle firearms is teaching them about violence. If a gun lesson to a child does not begin with words like, "This is a machine designed to kill," then the lesson is incomplete.

Before I shot a gun, I had never heard live fire before. The only bits of gunfire I had heard was on television. But on a firing range, the guns are very loud. The firing line is covered in spent shells. And there is a row of people with their fingers on the triggers. BLAM BLAM BLAM
BLAM! The air is acrid and smoky. Some people have multiple weapons; they are shooting Desert Eagles and Glocks and AR15's.

A month earlier, a young man shot off his calf muscle at the same range as I. He didn't pull his finger out of the trigger guard. Sure, one would think that's obvious...get your finger off the trigger, get your finger off the trigger, don't do a GODDAMN THING with your finger in that trigger...but it's not always easy to remember. Sometimes, one forgets.

Sometimes, a person isn't always sure of where the muzzle of his weapon is. Two lanes down, I see a guy shoot at a target and then wave at his teacher with his gun. "C'mere! Lookit what I did!" You almost shot someone dead, is what you did.

After my first shot, I quit crying. I just started shaking.

After one clip, my shooting was so terrible, the instructor asked me to stop for the day and go home.

Two months later, I finally qualified with a Glock 17. I could go out in the field as a probation officer and not need any other officer to accompany me.

I was a state certified officer with a weapon. I had a badge and a gun and handcuffs. I had a bullet-proof vest and a can of mace. I did my job for four years, supervising an average of 150 active adult felons. I went to their homes, at night, with no radio. I found that a smile, and a warm voice, could put these people at ease even though I was in
their home, going through their belongings, sitting next to their children.

I pulled my weapon twice, and I regret each time I did, because that meant in my mind, I was ready to kill another individual. Kill a person. Take a person's life. Keep him from living. Keep his heart from beating. Keep his brain from functioning.

I don't argue with people who own guns. It's still a Constitutional right. It will probably remain a right for a long time. Gun laws and gun control and rules and legislation don't stop people from shooting guns. None of that stuff will make a difference in America's love affair with weapons. Sadly, criminals will always be able to buy guns legally from private dealers or illegally from street dealers.

I just remember the fear my gun invoked inside of me. I just remember being aware of it all the time
("There's a gun in my closet. There's a gun in my cabinet drawer. There's a gun on top of my refrigerator.")
And I remember the relief of handing my gun back when I was fired. I remember crying then, too.
It's over, I thought.

I'll never have to fire this thing again.

And my face broke out into a smile.
Written by FRITZ
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Name: Fritz

Location: Detroit Rock City!
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