Okay, to clarify, as I realized I might never have done so:
I am working on my comfort around and with guns. Why? Because I noticed how utterly uncomfortable and incapable I was with them. Let me explain.
***Note: If you don’t want spoilers for Fifty Shades of Grey, don’t read the following.***
When I read the Fifty Shades of Grey books – yes, I read them eventually, and as audiobooks… not sure I could have continued reading if I’d been reading them as text! – I eventually got to the part where Anna opens Christian’s desk drawer and finds a gun sitting there. Her immediate reaction is that she proceeds to pick up the gun, she checks if it’s loaded, and then she sets it back down in the drawer. At no point does she express any nerves or unease at doing any of this. Her only thoughts are of why he might have the gun in the first place, as it surprised her to find one in his desk drawer.
Initially, I was panicking. I felt like some accident would ensue from her unintentionally mishandling the firearm. But then I remembered that her stepdad, who helped raise her, was a military man who had taught her everything he knew how to do. So, she likely had grown up knowing guns very well and using them comfortably and with ease. She wasn’t being unsafe by picking up this handgun. She was actually been even safer than Christian had likely been with the gun, as she truly knew what she was doing with it and how to handle it safely.
I was awed. When I thought about it, I was certain that I could not have done what she had done – check if it was loaded – even though that was about as simple as it gets with firearms. If I ever were to come across a gun or, God forbid, please, have to fight one away from an attacker, I wouldn’t even know how to pick it up and know that it wouldn’t fire as soon as I touched it. I knew not to touch the trigger itself, but that’s about all I knew. I couldn’t even turn a weapon in to the police if I crossed one. So, how would I make sure no one else came across it on accident, if I didn’t even know how to pick it up and unload it? And, God forbid, if someone were to attack and have a gun, if the gun got loose, how I could pick it up safely and keep it away from the perpetrator, let alone use it for defense, if needed?
What’s more, later in the book, she actually carries the gun with her, fully concealed, and then saves her own life by using it at the right time as she is being attacked by a man who means, likely, to kill her.
My mind was doubly blown by that part, especially considering we the readers don’t even know she has it until she draws it… I think, anyway… Nonetheless, this again brought up that I wouldn’t even know how to go about any single part of that whole scenario, let alone the whole thing. In addition to everything else about it, I just kept wondering how on Earth she knew she wouldn’t accidentally get shot with the gun in her waistband…
This determined for me that I knew too little about firearms and weapons handling.
And, for whatever reason, this weighed heavily on me for years after reading the book. Eventually, I knew I had to do something about it, and somewhat soon.
Last year, I had the opportunity for someone, in the comfort of a home, to show me how to take apart a semi-automatic handgun – think of the most typical black handgun you can imagine, and that’s what that means – and to guide me to do it all myself and put it all back together myself, including unloading and loading each bullet into the magazine.
Once I finished it all, I set the weapon down on the counter and declared I was finished for the day. The weapon was put away directly, and we raked some more about what all we had just done and discussed. It was absolutely terrifying for me, but extremely informative and good for me to do. Talk about having courage… courage was what got me through it all, along with the grace of God. This was important to me to learn – truly learning and getting to know something removes a great deal of fear from it, as history has shown us often, especially with peoples*.
I went through a similar thing with makeup. Once I learned how to do all the fancy stuff – and I do mean all of it – and I was comfortable with it all, I no longer was afraid of wearing make-up. Sure, I actually wear make-up even less now than before all of that, but I have no anxiety around make-up anymore. And I truly only wear it when I want to wear it. And I can pick it up on the fly and do it easily, every time. Basically, that’s how I want to be with guns. I’m not trying to become a competitive shooter and gun-hoarder for any zombie apocalypse or anything. I just want to be able, should the need ever arise, to handle and, if needed, use a firearm both safely and effectively.
Thus my reasons for working on my relationship with guns. I highly encourage everyone to lean into those intense fears that could change your life for the better, let alone possibly save it one day. I believe that, when we learn about what we fear, we have the potential to transform for the better the world that we face every day.
*Yes, I mean that plural use exactly as I wrote it.