The closest I've been to guns has been watching them being misused on TV or at the movies. Hunting has not been a big part of my life, except for my father went deer hunting occasionally when I was a child. I remember going pheasant hunting once and thought walking through field rubble rather boring. My husband has shot a skunk or raccoon that tried to make a home in one of our farm buildings. I knew those critters were not healthy neighbors to livestock, so I wasn't bothered by the use of gunfire. Other than those small experiences, my life has been gun-free.
I've never feared guns, but I've never understood them either. I agree with our 2nd Amendment, stating the right to bear arms. I respect the fact we have a choice in this life to protect ourselves from harm. And from there, the line blurs and our reasoning and passion cloud the issue. I'm a firm believer that guns do not kill people. People kill people. I feel the same way about cars and drunk driving. Cars do not kill people. People driving cars kill other people. Will we ever stop drunk driving? Probably not. Will we ever stop people from shooting others? Probably not. But I do feel educating ourselves and others may help to some degree.
This brought me to taking a firearm defense class. As a writer, this education is invaluable. More importantly, my family and I learned an important lesson in protecting ourselves and over-coming the stigma of using a hand gun. Our trainers were professional, friendly and strict with safety rules. The thirty folks in our class each had a hand gun, their own or borrowed from the class instructors. We wore these weapons holstered and emptied of ammo all day.
The trainers were a mixture of regular folks with hundreds of hours of experience, a retired FBI officer, retired Chicago policeman, an attorney, a retired school teacher, farmer, business owner, etc. The diversity of their life experiences brought a well-rounded atmosphere to the training. Our classroom time was intense; we needed to know the consequences of using a hand gun. Our actions could save a loved one, it could ruin our own lives from the 'fall-out' of the incident. This was not a sugar-coated class. We learned using a gun or weapon of any kind should always be a last resort. Period.
We learned how to aim correctly. We learned how to unjam a gun. We learned how quickly an attacker can approach a person. We learned firing our gun at an attacker could be the worst thing we do in our life. It could also be the only way to protect ourselves and our loved ones. We learned to move defensively. We learned the difference between cover and conceal. We learned to never pursue an attacker who has turned away. We learned to always cooperate with the police after an attack. We learned we could become physically sick after an attack. We learned we might become euphoric at having survived an attack.
I learned I'm a good shot. I have good hand and eye coordination. My granddaugthers (12) were excellent shots as well. My husband came in fourth in our shooting. I kept telling him to put on his glasses and he finally did. Wow! That helped. He would have beat us all if he'd worn them earlier. Even as we joked about our marksmanship, the seriousness and respect for our surroundings remained.
I am now qualified to carry a concealed gun. I spent 16 hours in intensive training, passed the shooting test with a score of 29 out of 30. In order to pass, one has to hit the marked area 21 times. Our trainer, the Chicago policeman, stated I did better than many of his co-workers. The written test is quirky with legalize wording and I was very thankful the attorney in our classroom prepared us well. He and the FBI agent did much of our classroom training. Their stories and clarification of Illinois rules were not only interesting and provocative, they created classroom discussions. Even my granddaugthers were interested in all the topics discussed in our class time.
Will I follow through and start carrying a concealed gun? I doubt I would ever do that. I wanted to learn about hand guns. I became efficient with a semi-automatic weapon, something I never thought I would be capable of doing. I learned valuable life lessons on how to protect myself and my family, with and without a weapon. For now, that is enough.
Til next time ~