Could a Yogi Use a Gun?

Via Michelle Marchildon
on Dec 19, 2012
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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.”

Mrs. Kennedy could shoot a gun.
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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About Michelle Marchildon

Michelle Berman Marchildon is the Yogi Muse. She’s an award-winning journalist, and the author of Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga. Her second book, Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga, is for yoga teachers who want to inspire their students. Michelle is a columnist for elephant journal and Origin Magazine and a contributor to Teachasana, My Yoga Online and Yoga Journal. She is an E-RYT 500 with Yoga Alliance and teaches in Denver, Co where she is busy raising two boys, two dogs and one husband. You can follow her on Facebook at Michelle Marchildon, The Yogi Muse. You can find her blog and website at And you can take her classes on


35 Responses to “Could a Yogi Use a Gun?”

  1. WeRAllNUTS says:

    Sure, I have to protect my genes with all my power. In this case, I'm willing to kill another woman's child in order to protect my own children. In the court case, just claim the incident as self-defense.

  2. Revo Luzione says:

    Duh. If you're being sarcastic here, it's not working.

  3. WeRAllNUTS says:

    why it is not working??

  4. Eileen says:

    Michelle, I too, am married to someone from Montana. She isn't much into hunting now, and we don't have any guns in the house. We will be moving to Montana in 18 months, and I have already told her: NO GUNS.

    Here's the thing about "murdering our children": it didn't start last friday. it has been going on for years and years. GET THIS – 8 children or teens are killed EVERYDAY in American by a gun. Yes, that is 8!

    More facts on gun violence here: Suggested Links

    I just don't see how knowing how to shoot a gun is going to help. Doesn't make sense to me at all, especially since all the stats say that more guns mean there is more likely to be more deaths.

  5. Shannon C says:

    I agree with you 100% . Let's shoot together!!

  6. Michelle Marchildon says:

    I agree. I don't want any more guns. I just want to be less afraid of them by understanding them. I'm not going to buy one, or carry one. I just want to know how to safely use it and unload it etc. right now I am paralyzed by the fear of it.

  7. paul says:

    do you really think you'd have been able to stop this random insanity on a rampage?
    are there statistics to support the reasoning guns=safer?
    is the "yogi" peace-loving or peace-living?
    does "yogi" have any standard meaning, or is a novelty to be defined on a whim?

  8. awfulmycloud says:

    I wish you didn't think you needed a gun. We need less guns and less fear. This has got to stop.

  9. Revo Luzione says:

    Even Gandhi believed in the right to bear arms. He thought that one of the worst and most egregious thing that the British did in India was to disarm the population.

    From his autobiography: Chapter 27, pg. 446-447), so as to add context:

    "I used to issue leaflets asking people to enlist as recruits. One of the arguments I had used was distasteful to the Commissioner: 'Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest. If we want the Arms Act to be repealed, if we want to learn the use of arms, here is a golden opportunity. If the middle classes render voluntary help to Government in the hour of its trial, distrust will disappear, and the ban on possessing arms will be withdrawn.' The Commissioner referred to this and said that he appreciated my presence in the conference in spite of the differences between us. And I had to justify my standpoint as courteously as I could."

    While he preached nonviolence, he was not about to teach his followers to get steamrolled. From his essay titles: "The Gospel of Nonviolence":

    "My nonviolence does not admit of running away from danger and leaving dear ones unprotected. Between violence and cowardly flight, I can only prefer violence to cowardice. I can no more preach nonviolence to a coward than I can tempt a blind man to enjoy healthy scenes. "

    The nonviolence of a yogi, or anyone else, is not the same as becoming prey for a predatory human or organization. Nonviolence in a political setting can only work among similarly enlightened leaders. Gandhi's nonviolence worked because although the British were imperialists, they were still decent human beings deep down. Unfortunately, there are enough human beings who are not decent, good, or kind, or who are harboring enough suffering to cause them to act out, such that others need the right to self defense and defense against tyranny.

  10. YogiHeart says:

    Just because you learn to use a gun, doesn't mean you will actually use it. Seems that you think it is easy to just shoot someone and possible kill them, even when in danger. It's not. Ask our Vets with PTSD…and they received extensive training that includes desensitization to being able to to perform such an act.

  11. Helen says:

    It just makes no sense to me. How many of the parents and teachers new how to use a gun at Sandy Hook? Maybe a few? It would have made not one iota of a difference because a mentally ill and/or deranged lad came in to a school during day time and shot everyone. It was horrifying and appalling and the most disgusting thing. But I see no correlation between that incident and people flocking in droves to buy guns unless somehow, someone is suggesting that guns are brought into school 'just incase' or people walk about with guns 'just incase' or have a loaded pistol under the pillow 'just incase'? Makes. No. Sense. But you are entitled, in your country to buy a gun and learn how to use it and you are also entitled to your opinion. I guess from my viewpoint as a yogi on a spiritual journey, and a mother who cried her heart out this week after the shootings, who knew people involved in the shooting in Dunblane years ago (I'm from Scotland), the buying and owning and learning how to use a gun does not compute.

  12. Peter says:

    As is often the case after mass shootings in the US, a number of people come forward to say what they would have done if they'd been there and been armed. But of course, none of them were there and really have no idea what they would have done, or been able to do. I'm a gun owner, and I've also been shot at but I'm not prepared in any way to say what I would have done during those mass shootings because I wasn't there. One thing I can say is if there are guns in your home then you should be trained in their use, handing and storage, whether you have any interest in shooting or not. I would prefer that nobody had guns, and that we all would choose to see each other as the living embodiments of God that we are (and act accordingly), but for the time being that reality will have to be balanced with our current situation. There are meaningful regulation changes we could bring about, though, without having to strip law abiding citizens of their self defense.

  13. Julia says:

    Though I disagree with your decision on spirtual, moral and energetic grounds (and even on practical grounds as a handgun is no match for assault weapons used in these killings) I can at least give you credit for having the courage to make public your decision and subject yourself to the push-back you are getting. May your decision to publish this article, and the feedback, give you what it was that you seek.

  14. juliette says:

    i like you and look forward to your writing. you are an inspiration. i am a mom and understand the 'mother bear' instinct and my deep seated fear of random murder that has been most recently illuminated. reading that you will be taking gun lessons has saddened me. maybe it is that trigger (no pun intended) that we react from a place of fear, of defense, or anger. i am angry as hell actually and want to beat people up for having NRA stickers on their cars here in Colorado. it's disgusting to me to have a gun, hunt animals for fun, or to even think of using a gun. Can you just buy a video or watch youtube or a tarantino fim that instructs you on how to use a gun instead of actually having to go and take a shooting class? Can you just feel powerful from the weaponry in your fierce and passionate heart? You inspire others through your words, your practice, your emotional openness – but this makes me for once say "I disagree with you wholeheartedly". I know I am a little comment on your big blogosphere but please don't touch a gun – it is not the act of wanting, buying, complaining in a corner and getting shot by a crazy person – it is the act of being as gentle as possible with ourselves and our kids. If someone was to open fire today in a mall and I was shot dead then it was my time to not be here anymore. This piece that you wrote has made me just plain sad – it is not helping anyone except your friend named fear. We don't need that in the world right at this moment. Namaste.

  15. Paula says:

    If learning to shoot a gun will help your fear, then do it. Guns are powerful, recoil, hurt your hands, and are extremely loud..and that's just firing the weapon. We all know what they can do in the wrong hands. I can see no valid reason for automatic weapons to be utilized for any purpose but mass killing, but I can't see getting rid of the second amendment either. There are many gun enthusiasts that are law abiding citizens, I may not be inclined to shoot but that's just me. However this problem facing our nation has more to do with the lack of mental health care in our country. With the advent of Seratonin boosting drugs, there are chemistry cocktails perscribed without guidance or the supervision needed. We became collectively negative of mental hospitals after One Flew Over the Coocoos Nest, and by the mid 80's most had shuttered their doors with laws in place to protect individuals rights and privacy over the rights of society's safety. Until we can address the epidemic of mental illness without the stigmas attached to it, there will always be a weapon to use, if not a gun, a maltov cocktail, a knife, a bomb, gas, a push off the subway platform..yes some of these events, such as last Friday, are beyond our worst nightmares come true, but isn't every life lost to the workings of a deranged mind tragic?

  16. your fear, self-admitted, has clouded your reason… peer reviewed scientific studies show that introducing a hand-gun into a home makes those residents 3-4 times as like to die from gun violence…

    in addition, the same studies and statistics show that when the gun is owned specifically for the case of self-defense, the odds of the owner of the gun dying from that firearm reach 4.5 times.

    that's 450% more likely that you've made yourself and your loved ones to be now hurt by a firearm.

    that is the shame of this – I hear your fear, and guess what, it's a totally irrational situation that won't make sense… violence, death, and accidents happen. we strive to make sense and to feel in control. we all make poor decisions based on these motivations.

    I just fear for you, more than you fear for yourself… and really, a home invasion?? and you're going to have time to go to your almost thrown away key, unlock your gun safe, take off the trigger lock (because you're responsible) and then make the moral judgment to take another life in the around 3-7 seconds it took for this fantastical home invader to enter?

    If there is that much danger of a home invasion, I would suggest moving!!

    taking care of yourself and your family means making hard, rational, non-emotional choices – and it means looking past the primary decision to the secondary consequences. I believe you are too smart to buy your own quasi-hysteria fueled by paranoia. this practice calls us to discern, to mitigate reactivity.

    meditate on it – do what you will, of course, just know that you've made a choice that statistically has proven deadly… the opposite of your intention.

  17. Statistics show that a significant number of people who own a gun will die by a gun in their own home.

    I do not agree with your line of reasoning here and I have been consistently outspoken on this issue although I do know practicing yoga students and teachers who own guns and some are friends.

    Imagine pulling the trigger and thinking, feeling, about the result. How quick would you be to pull that trigger? If that weapon is not at your side when you are attacked, you'll be defenseless anyway and if it is in your hands you might need to instinctively kill without forethought. So you'd better get a holster for that gun.

    I know this is an emotional and fear based response and still very reasonable as you and I know that our children are not safe. I worry about my children and they are grown. I cannot hear a siren and not silently pray it is not my children even if they are not in town. It's an uncomfortable thing but getting a weapon is not the answer. Or I should say, that is my opinion.

  18. MIchelle Marchildon says:

    I do not think, ever, that it could be "easy to just shoot someone." Please re-read the column. Not only is this not easy, but it is deplorable. No where do I say I wish to shoot someone. By trivializing this column and being highly reactive you are not contributing to the solution in our country. Please be careful when you try to incite people to a quick decision and make things up that do not exist. Thank you.

  19. Michelle Marchildon says:

    This was amazing to learn. Thank you Revo for this contribution. Just amazing. Made my day.

  20. Michelle Marchildon says:

    Thank you Peter. My sentiments exactly. I have had my head in the sand for too long. It is irresponsible at this point for me to not know how to use and handle a gun.

  21. Michelle Marchildon says:

    Thank you Julia. I'm just trying to express my deepest thoughts and fears around this subject, so others who may be thinking or feeling similarly may share in the experience. Dancers express themselves in theater, artists in art, writers by writing.

  22. Michelle Marchildon says:

    Thank you Juliette. I hear you. This whole situation makes me terribly sad. However, if I am going to face this I am going to do it fully. I do not think that by touching a gun or learning how to handle it will at all change me from my positions. I'm not giving it that much power. I certainly would not feel suddenly compelled to go shoot a living creature! It is just a thing, while I am a living breathing person with principles. I am just getting educated.

  23. Michelle Marchildon says:


  24. Michelle Marchildon says:

    Thank you Hilary. I don't actually think I will be the victim of a home invasion. But who knows? I don't truly believe my children will be gunned down at school, or in a movie theater, or at a shopping mall. But who knows? I am only getting educated in the use of guns. I'm not planning on buying one, or keeping one holstered to me. In fact, nothing will change; I will just know more. There seems to be so much fear here about just getting educated about guns.

  25. Eileen says:

    yes, i understand. to me using a gun would be akin to doing brain surgery. but my response to realizing this about myself is not to learn to shoot one. i figure there are enough people shooting guns around. and hell, jane is such a spot on shot, that i'd be better off standing behind her and letting her take care of any problem that might arise. i mean, she is good!

  26. Eileen says:

    I, too, can not agree with your choice, but really admire you for your deep thoughtfulness, your openness to meaningful dialog, and your courage. i also love that i can adamantly disagree with you and we can be friends – maybe even closer because of it. that is why you are a great yogi.

  27. Eileen says:

    it is interesting that your approach to your fear is to shoot a gun. i think your fear is well-founded. we should be afraid, very afraid. not because a trouble young man might walk into a crowded building – school, movie theater, mall – and blow people to smithereens, but because gun violence is rampant in our country. EVERY DAY. i am afraid and i think that is great. no need to do anything to make myself less afraid of gun violence. i want to make gun violence less prevalent so that my fear can diminish as well.

  28. Michelle Marchildon says:

    Of course Eileen. Much love to you. Yogis welcome the conversation. The great ones might even learn from it!

  29. West Anson says:

    Interesting how statistics are “thrown about” about guns primarily to perpetuate fear amongst the populace. Whether it be to scare people away from guns (i.e. any statistic promoted by Gun Control Advocates) or to scare people towards owning guns (i.e. any statistic promoted by Firearms Advocates).

    What people must be reminded of is that a gun is simply a “tool”. It is an inanimate object with potential to do good (protection, entertainment, etc) or to do harm (kill or injure innocence). Only the operator of that “tool” determines what potential the firearm is used. You only need to be fearful of your intentions.

    As a Yogi, who owns multiple weapons, I see no issue with owning a gun anymore than owning a sword or knife. It always comes to what your intentions are for that gun or “tool”.

    Good luck my fellow Yogi. Namaste.

  30. Seamus says:


  31. Seamus says:

    And by that I mean your intention to arm yourself IS a fear-based response. And now I am certain that your blog subjects are designed merely to get a response and to excite your readers (I would say "the masses," but I'm sure that's not the case). Like Fox News. Or Murdoch pubs. Get some ethics.

  32. Julia says:

    Food for thought: would adding a gun to the scene actually make a difference or make you more safe? Quite a resounding no from someone with very direct experience:

  33. […] point is I enjoy the fact that I have the option. I like guns, I like shooting them, I like owning them and I like that I have the right to protect […]

  34. […] It wasn’t until after the dust settled that I realized the absurdity, and ultimate futility, of this desire—or until I realized the affliction this type of thought represented. Thinking that more violence will solve the problem of violence is not just illogical and poor thinki… […]