December 19, 2012

Could a Yogi Use a Gun?

Following the horrific mass killing of innocent children and their beloved teachers in Connecticut, Colorado had the single largest day for people getting gun permits in the history of the state.

I am not happy about this. What’s more, I am soon to be one of them.

You would not think that a yogi—a peace-loving, meditating, somewhat-balanced yogi—would be among those who own a gun. I never thought this could be me, even though I live halfway between Columbine High School and Aurora. I wasn’t raised in a gun culture. I don’t support the use of guns and I only recognize the Second Amendment because it’s the law, and I generally don’t break the law.

In fact, I am outraged and disgusted at the ease with which one can buy an automatic weapon. I don’t vote for political candidates who take money from the N.R.A. because I do not buy that a recreational hunter needs to fire a zillion rounds per second to kill a deer. That is bullshit. I also do not accept that because others have these weapons we need them too. That’s just more bullshit from the same cow.

However, Friday was the last straw. I realized that if I had been in the Sandy Hook Elementary School I wouldn’t have been able to stop the shooter because I don’t know anything about guns. I’ve never even touched one, until now.

Years ago when crazy people started killing our peaceful, non-violent leaders, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis moved abroad. She said famously, “If they are killing Kennedys, I won’t have my children be next.”

Jackie at target practice.

Well, today they are killing children. And like Mrs. Onassis, I need to do something. Did she want to leave her country? Probably not. Do I want to learn how to use a gun? Definitely not.

My husband, a man from Montana, grew up with guns. When we met we went through the usual checklist for compatibility: religion (we were different, but neither of us cared), how to spend money (I do, he doesn’t) and guns (OMG!).

When he first showed me the antique guns he inherited from a father he loved, I freaked out. He’s kept them locked in a metal cabinet and the key is so well hidden it’s practically thrown away. He has never, not once, gone hunting since we met. When our children were born, the guns and bullets were stored separately in two cabinets with both keys locked away.

That is until Friday when 20 innocent children were gunned down in their classroom. I said to my husband, “I want you to show me how to use a gun.”

Violence is not the answer. But neither is fear. I have a deep and pathological fear of weapons, but I have a greater need to protect my children. If someone entered our house with a gun, I would not know how to use it if I got the thing away from the intruder. So I am going to learn.

We are soon heading to a shooting range where a non-violent yogi will put a gun into her hand and take aim for the first time in her life. I never thought I’d see this day. But I never thought I’d see our children being murdered either. I pray that I never, ever have to use what I’m going to learn how to do. I am not happy about this, but I am resigned it is the right thing to do in these times.


Ed: Kate B.

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