It all started in 2011 with a recurring nightmare.
The dream manifested itself each time within a different scenario, but it always ended with someone shooting me in the neck: an angry man in the grocery store parking lot; a disgruntled ex-roommate; a serial killer chasing me around my house… Granted, it was not as scary as the recurring nightmare of my childhood in which the Stinky Cheese Man arose as a vampire in a coffin through my living room floor and chased everyone around in a cape trying to suck our blood (that shit was terrifying!) but I could not figure out how to make this nightmare stop resurfacing.
A few months prior to these nightmares my boyfriend of five years had figuratively dined & ditched his way out of my life, so it’s not hard to interpret the symbolism behind the dream. I was feeling vulnerable and injured, but to say that I was also a little angry would be the understatement of the year. So, I sent my dad the text that every father wants to read from his emotionally distressed daughter:
Daddy, do you have a gun?
Of course I knew he had a gun. I knew he had plenty; the deer head on the wall and bear meat in the freezer were proof of that, if the childhood memories of his shooting practice weren’t already. I played innocent, though, even though I had already decided that the solution to my nightmare would be to shoot a handgun. I figured it would be cathartic for dealing with my anger, would help me regain some sense of control, and maybe give me the confidence to at least shoot back in self defense at the attacker in my dreams.
I asked my dad to take me shooting when I was home for Christmas, and what initially began as the idea to take a quick trip to a shooting range somehow morphed into a full on redneck family shootout on top of a mountain. No, really, dear audience, please believe me: there was Carhartt and camo everywhere; my grandpa rode up on his 4-wheeler, a can of Naddy Light in his hand and a toothless grin of joy stamped on his face as he regaled us with the story of how he had recently shot a buck from his front porch.
We had driven a few big trucks up the bumpy dirt road to his property in the mountains of, quite literally, the middle of nowhere. Boondocks or not, the place is incredibly peaceful and scenic. A picnic table sat at the crest of a hill and we parked next to it and lined the old wood with a startling array of firearms; shotguns, rifles, pistols and a healthy supply of ammo beckoned us to fill the air with deafening booms and shoot to our heart’s content.
And that we did.
It was such a grand affair that it has become somewhat of a tradition, and one which we recreated this past Christmas. We rounded up the family, headed off to the hills, and braved the bitter wind chill to get our shooting on. My sister brought a watermelon and blew it up immediately with a deer rifle–turns out she’s quite the sniper. I tried my hand with a variety of weapons and pretended it was the zombie apocalypse with a shotgun. I loved every minute of it.
Afterward, we retired to the warmth of my grandpa’s living room. A la true Americana, we munched on cheesy potato skins with Trinity Broadcasting Network praising the lord in the background as we marveled at the various animal hides on the walls and chatted about the day. Over the fireplace hung a boar’s head, where my grandpa likes to dangle a flashy pair of his girlfriend’s underwear from the tusk and then point out how happy the hog looks.
My grandpa disappeared for a few minutes and reappeared in the doorway with a gun in each hand. He looked at my sister and I and declared proudly, “Merrrrrry Christmas!”
My sister and I looked dubiously at one another. Does he mean what I think he means?
“You girls seem to enjoy shooting so much I thought you should have your own guns now to practice with,” he explained.
My sister was thrilled and gladly grabbed the barrel and examined it. I honestly didn’t know what I would do with my own gun but, not wanting to hurt his feelings, I smiled and gave him a hug of gratitude.
The guns are only .22s, so they’re nothing huge or powerful and mainly used for target practice or shooting squirrels. They’re both quite aged (my dad thinks mine may even be worth some money because it’s a pump, and these days most guns are semi-automatic) and my grandpa gave the disclaimer to my sister, “Now, to shoot this one correctly just remember to aim a little low and to the left.”
We said our goodbyes and loaded into the truck to head home and as I sat in the backseat next to my new possession, I realized I had a lot of questions.
Am I allowed to own a gun? Do I need a permit for this thing? Where am I supposed to store it? Are there any laws that go along with gun ownership? Where could I go shoot it if I took it back to Santa Barbara with me? Ohmygod how do I own a gun???
It alarmed me that I was able to suddenly own a gun. Just like that, a dangerous weapon was mine and I had very little knowledge of how to maintain and operate it safely. With the raging gun debate consuming the media lately after the recent Sandy Hook tragedy, my situation appropriately brought up a relevant discussion of gun control.
I have waffled back and forth on the issue, myself, as I see both sides of the argument. As is typical with my stance, though, I think I fall somewhere in the middle in my ideas of what should be done. Gun laws now are clearly too lax, but I don’t think we’re in any danger of the NRA’s fear that (cue redneck voice) “They’re gunna take our gunnnns” as that would obviously never work.
From my sudden entrance into the world of gun ownership, I find myself believing that people should be, at the very least, required to take a test on how to safely use and store a gun and on the firearm laws within their state. Why can’t we treat guns the same way as cars? In order to drive a car, you must take a training course and pass a test on how to safely use it. I’m not sure I understand people’s aversion to extra safety measures like this since, at the end of the day, they would not actually inhibit your right to bear arms. I would also like to see universal background checks required for the purchase of any gun and for all guns to be registered to their owner. To me, “gun control” means little reforms like this, not a complete government conquest to seize all guns and melt them down into little peace sign paperweights.
I don’t mean to get into a thick debate on what gun laws should and shouldn’t be, but I figured I had a relevant experience that I could share within my little corner of the webiverse to help others make their own opinion. Not to mention, this redneck side of me may come as a surprise for some of you–and how awesome is my grandpa?
I wonder if they’ll have shooting ranges in Korea?
Have you ever gone shooting or maybe even discovered your inner redneck?