Another mass shooting.
This is becoming too common. Too fucking frighteningly common.
And before the ink dries on the teleprompter, someone will be spitting venom about gun control. Another camp will use this moment–This horrible fucking moment to further their views on the abysmal shortcomings of mental health care in this nation. Or ISIS. Or Muslim extremists. Or Christian domestic terrorists. Somewhere someone will post the obligatory hashtag of #whatevergroupyouchooselivesmatter.
And people will still be dead.
Others will still be left with questions.
I’m getting numb to it. And that’s a shitty shitty place to be. I don’t want to be numb to it. I want to feel it. The despair. The questioning. The concern. The compassion. The love. It’s all there. It doesn’t get the headlines, because it’s not flashy enough. There’s no good way to write the copy of someone who’s trying to help others make it through that doesn’t want the spotlight. But that’s who we should be looking at.
Make THEM the story. The helpers. The first responders. People who tried to help. Not the killers.
Not the politicians. Not the goddamned lobbyists. Stop giving those fuckers one second of air time. They don’t deserve my attention. My interest. My ire. They don’t deserve any of it.
It was a chilly fall night. We had recently brought my daughter home from the hospital. This was a minor miracle as there were several nights in her premie foray in to this world where her mother and I weren’t quite sure she would make it.
My wife heard the noise before I did. The hand of someone in our bedroom crawling toward our bed happened to hit a plastic bag. A plastic Kroger bag. She woke up immediately. And yelled. I was slower to wake. Coming out of a sleepy fog, I made eye contact with someone in a black hoodie. They ran from the bedroom. I followed. I was running blindly down the stairs after a shadow. At the foot of our stairs both the front and back doors stood wide open. I had no way to know where the stranger went. He shouted to others as he was running down the stairs. I don’t know how many of them there were.
We had a roommate down the hall from us. The nursery was also upstairs. My wife checked on our daughter. Woke the roommate and then called the police.
I stood dumbfounded in my living room. The fall air cutting through my boxers. Not knowing what to expect, I reached for a carving knife. I didn’t know if they were coming back or not. I think I held the knife until the police arrived.
This was about 21 years ago, maybe slightly longer.
I remember it like it was yesterday.
“You should have had a gun for protection and home defense,” would be the common refrain if this story happened today (as it was back then).
And yeah….maybe. But let me give you some insight in to the situation.
I was slow to wake up. I was not fully awake and coherent of the situation until well after I had been standing downstairs for a full 3 minutes. Up to that point I was acting on pure fight or flight adrenaline based on what my wife was shouting at me. I was in no frame of mind to reach over and pull a gun from a gun safe, dick with a trigger lock, and pull off a round or three.
The guy was SECONDS from being on top of us. The plastic bag he rustled was at the foot of our bed. OUR BED. There was no time.
Secondly, I ran downstairs blindly, fueled by adrenaline and fear. I would have quite likely shot anyone standing downstairs. Friend or Foe before taking the time to identify which they were.
I have a gun. I have two, actually. I have a shotgun. I have a pistol. Both are loaded. Neither are encumbered by a trigger lock. None of these are things I had when I was married and my daughter was growing up.
But now, I live alone. I live in a small apartment.
The shotgun is one my dad gave me. A 12 gauge. It’s almost exactly one year older than I am (made in November of 1970). The pistol is not an expensive one.
I have both guns because I like to shoot. THINGS. Not people. They are NOT for self-defense. They are NOT to defend my home. That is not why I got them. I got them to shoot targets, bottles, cans, and concrete blocks.
I have a baseball bat that stands at the ready by my bed. If someone enters my bedroom uninvited, they will be greeted with the baseball bat first. If I happen to be out of my mind and it’s a friend, a blow with a baseball bat is a little easier to forgive. If they are not a friend, a baseball bat to the skull will send a message.
The baseball bat is by my bed for self defense. If you come up on me whilst I’m sleeping, and I’m not expecting you, I think you should expect to be brained with a Louisville Slugger, because damn…you shoulda called first.
The guns are loaded, concealed, but easily in reach, should the baseball bat fail. Having a gun in my home won’t keep me safe if someone wants to get in. The time I would have to wake up, yank off my cpap mask, grab the gun and fire at someone coming in to my apartment uninvited would be negligible. It’s a small apartment. And that’s assuming I heard them. I’m a heavy sleeper. I have no illusions if someone breaks in intent on doing me harm. I’m not gung-ho or naive enough to think that my survival would be a sure thing.
This is contrasted by my trips to the farm. I also take at least one of the guns with me when I go to the farm. The farmhouse is isolated. If someone comes to the farmhouse intent on doing me harm, I would hear their vehicle approaching on the gravel road and wake up in time to be readied.
I don’t know why I felt the need to spout all of that. I guess it’s to say that having a gun for home protection is really only part of the picture. My guns aren’t for home protection. They are for backup. They are not my primary defense.
If someone is intent to kill another person, they will find a way. Guns are quick and accessible (both legally and illegally). And in our video game culture, it’s easy to become an expert on types of guns. But shooting someone on a computer screen is a little different than in real life. But only slightly in the minds of some.
It’s truly a fucked up situation. However you cut it. We as a species are caught in this whole murder-suicide spiral. The human race is killing the planet and since that’s dying, we are killing ourselves. In slow increments.
Daily it seems.
And it makes me sad. Because someone, somewhere is profiting on this pain.
And that sucks.
Do you wanna know the real irony of this? A gun didn’t save my life 21 years ago. A baseball bat didn’t. Not even the carving knife.
My life and the life of my wife and family was saved by a plastic Kroger grocery bag.