I grew up fearing guns. When I was a kid my mother refused to buy a toy gun for me that shot plastic pellets 5 yards or so, fearing that the gun would turn me into a sadistic killer. I picked up on her fear of weapons at an early age and carried it through most of adulthood. Guns were tools of evil, and as such had no place in the hands of anyone except for those charged by Society to protect us: police and military.
In 1991 I lived in Hillcrest, a predominantly gay San Diego neighborhood. About a block away a 17 year old boy was stabbed to death in a wilding attack on the sidewalk where I regularly walked to my favorite coffee shop. I attended the protest march days later. Like me the kid wasn’t gay, but it didn’t matter to his attackers, and suddenly I realized that I was vulnerable. It was the first time in my life that I questioned my innate fear of guns, but instead of buying a gun I left the country and began a journey that would take me around the world and bring me back with a wife, kid and 3 Japanese cats.
I’ve never killed anything with a gun. I’ve never hunted but have no problem with people who hunt responsibly. This means people who eat what they shoot and respect wildlife. This does not include weekend drunks with guns who come to my county at midnight, spotlight deer then blast them, leaving garbage on my property and their rotting carcass for my dogs to find them and come home with body parts in their mouths. But I have trained to kill with a gun. Not only physically, but legally. As a responsible gun owner I recognize that knowing the laws in my county and state are just as important as knowing the action of my rifle.
I have been robbed at gunpoint. In an event detailed here I was once robbed at the video store I worked at it college. I’ve never forgotten what it was like to have a career criminal decide whether I lived or died. Would gun control have stopped the “Goody-Two-Shoes bandit”? Nope. He’d have gotten VHS copies of Playboy Sexy Lingerie and Career Opportunities, along with $500 in cash, with a knife, baseball bat, or even a well-timed punch. And given the success of prohibitions on heroin, crystal meth, and prostitution gun control wouldn’t have stopped him – a felon who couldn’t legally own a gun to begin with.
I rescue things. Animals mostly, dogs and cats even chickens and fish, but I have rescued a human being and guns played a role in keeping him and my family safe while we waited for authorities to arrive. Even with animals guns play a role since my chihuahua is a meal to a pack of coyotes, and although I would hope the loud noise of a “boomstick” would scare any predator away, I am prepared to shoot any animal attacking one of my dogs. Most of the time a volley of birdshot into the trees in the woods is enough to scare away the coyotes. The chickens are another case. Everything loves chicken so I will never injure an animal taking one of those. Ask the red tail hawks in the area. My coop was their diner for a while.
I support the LGTBQ+ community and am a member of Pink Pistols. As a writer, photographer and free-thinker I ended up spending a lot of time around people whose sexual preferences were different than my own. While hanging out with gays didn’t make me gay, it did make me a much better dresser (just kidding: I’m more Bill Belichick than Bill Blass). By associating with the LGTBQ+ community I have been exposed to and learned to appreciate fine food, abstract art (never thought that would happen), classic literature, all different types of music, and film and theater. Seeing the world through their eyes has been a joyous experience, and it is one that I would have completely missed had I not let go of my innate homophobia and opened myself up to them. This community is now under threat, and guns have a role to play in protecting it – if the community itself realizes it. Too bad that even after a terror attack in one of their own clubs Gays refuse to protect themselves.
I believe the AK-47 is a better rifle than the AR-15. Now I did it: Let flow the hate-mail! I’m sorry. For years I resisted owning the gun that had put so many Americans into early graves in places like Vietnam. But when that event that I hinted at in the “rescue” section above, I realized that I needed a gun that could put up a curtain of lead between the baddies in the darkness and my family in the light. And that gun turned out to be a semi-automatic Saiga 12 – the shotgun version of the AK-47. Once I made that baby-step it was only a matter of time in seeing the guns for what they were: tools without any metaphysical attachments. They were hunks of stamped metal (in the case of the AK), nothing more or less. And while I respect both platforms, I have found the AK-47 to be the best go-to gun. It’s not fussy with ammo the way the AR-15 is. It will eat anything including crap surplus ammo from the former Warsaw Pact. It’s tough and although I don’t torture it the way Rob Ski does at the Ak Operators Union Local 47-74, I don’t have to worry about its hygiene.
I believe self-defense is a human right. I have learned through experience that the purpose of police is not the motto we’ve seen on cop shows, “to serve and protect,” at least at the individual level. A cop’s priority doesn’t include taking a bullet for me. His first priority is to survive himself, and his next priority is to reestablish order. These two priorities leave my family and me on our own, making me ultimately responsible for our defense. I find it interesting that the famous people who call for me to be disarmed are surrounded by men carrying guns. It’s not only politicians like President Obama and Hillary Clinton but even Salman Rushdie has called for the disarming of the American public while he is protected by armed bodyguards. They are blind to their hypocrisy and the anti-gun media refuses to call them on it.
If I can’t defend myself, I have no freedom, no rights. Anything can be taken from me by anyone. All my natural rights flow from my ability to protect myself and my loved ones from harm. And if that makes me a gun nut in the eyes of people like Hillary Clinton or Anderson Cooper, than so be it.