I’ve had a few encounters with guns in my life. A few more than I would have expected.
Growing up I usually only saw guns in movies. Through pop-culture they were viewed as protection, sexy, dangerous, threatening, power. All of which slightly disagreed with each other.
My first experience, was not really mine, but a friends. When I went to her house for the first time, she gave us a tour, but we only peaked into one room, the gun room. It was lined with different guns in different cases. I never really thought more of it, if my parents would have cared, if it was normal. Two- three years later, I had visited her house a lot and we were good friends. One day, her dad had gone to the shooting range, but while he was shooting, he slipped and when he hit the ground, the gun backfired. No one focused on the gun, the gun accident was almost accepted, nothing could have prevented it. After reading Chapter 3 in Private Guns and Public Health, looking back, I’m so surprised nothing more was said about gun safety, gun prevention. It wasn’t questioned, however, like the chapter says, if a child is hurt moving a soccer net, it creates an uproar in society to be unsafe and unfit, and calls for redesign.
My second experience is heartbreaking. You always hear about school shootings, but my experience, was never called that, although it was school property, it was called domestic violence. It was 4 period, which depending on your schedule can either be our lunch hour or a class, I was in my art class. The school com came on and announced a code black in a very hushed quiet voice, but the thing was, we had never heard of a code black, none of us knew what it was, what that meant. Code red meant an intruder, another code meant hurricane, but black? We were all unsure, our teacher immediately closed the door, and immediately, none of new what was happening. Our professor told us we were allowed to use our phones if we wanted, which was odd, because usually if you had it out you were reported to the principal. But instead of us calling our parents, our parents started calling us. We were on the news, for gun shots being fired. We all waited, quietly, waiting for the code to be lifted, waiting for news. The door opened and a crying student walked in, she was shaking and her words weren’t forming. She spoke of the lunch room windows, shots, a girl and a man. The professor quickly ushered her into her office.
The code black was lifted and as we changed classes there were whispers about helicopters, about half the school took the rest of the day off.
Later, it was explained to us. A student, who had transferred to our school for only two weeks, was shot 5 times in our parking lot. Her mother witnessing the event, drove her car in between her daughter and the shooter to stop the event. Her ex-boyfriend was the shooter and father of the child she was pregnant with. It was said that he had stolen the gun from his mother and had stop taking his bi-polar medication. He committed suicide after shooting her five times. She was flown to the nearest hospital where her and her baby survived.
And then my last experience was guns was this thanksgiving. We have family friends in Texas who shoot regularly at the shooting range. He wanted to teach us how to properly and safely handle a gun. He told us his personal stories, the different guns he owns. And what it means to be a gun owner in Texas. He was proud of his right to own a gun, to practice, and to feel safe and protected in his own home. He told us his family history with guns and spoke about the ones that had been passed down to him. He showed us how he stores his guns separately from ammunition, locked up in separate rooms. Shooting on a range is a skill to him and owning a gun gives him a sense of pride, confidence and protection.
I’m not exactly sure what I think yet on the overall issue. Private Guns and Public Health deemed that there are three ways that guns deaths can be categorized: accidental, suicidal and homicidal and I’ve experienced all three to some degree. I do like the idea of a gunless society, but it’s not the right answer for the America. We need to find a way to make both parties happy or at least make our ideas tolerable.