I’ve been a vocal supporter of Second Amendment rights ever since…well, since I wasn’t.
Looking back, there was probably a time I was hinky about guns. I grew up among non-gun-owning Democrats, after all. I suspect the North Dakota Boys’ State platform I wrote for the Federalist Party back in the summer of 1980 may have had something in it about handgun registration.
That eroded over time, of course; I became, bit by bit, a believer in the right of the citizen to defend him/herself – and in the original, real intent of the Second Amendment.
It came to a head with me in the summer of 1988. I was living in a duplex in the Midway with a couple of chowder-headed roommates, including one who was (it turned out) addicted to drugs, booze, sex, smokes and gambling. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We were all working nights at the time. I had a night off; the other guys had left. It was around 11 at night. I was upstairs; the phone, and the exit, were downstairs.
I heard voices. Not my roommates’ voices, either; strangers.
I picked up a gun – a .22 semiautomatic rifle, in this case – and walked to the top of the stairs. It was an old duplex, so the floor creaked mightily. The voices downstairs stopped – but didn’t leave the building.
I crouched behind the banister at the top of the stairs. “Who’s down there”.
I heard a creak of someone moving across the floorboards.
“I have a gun!”, I yelled, and racked up a round. The bolt snapped forward with a perky \little “ka-snick” – I’d have preferred the mighty “KA-SCHLACK” of a 12-gauge at about that point…
…but I heard a muted “oh, shit”, and saw the backs of a couple of pairs of shoes as they ran out the door.
I waited – my heart pounding, trying not to hyperventilate, at the top of the stairs – for what felt like half an hour, before I slowly crept down the stairs, rifle loaded and levelled, to make sure they were gone. The front door was wide open, and a few things – a boom box, I remember – were missing. I had a serious talk with my roommates about locking the door on their way out the next morning.
And I thought – because I had all too much time for thinking, back then – that it wasn’t the sound of me moving upstairs that sent ‘em running; it was the immediate, real potential that I could blow them away (or, given the gun involved, pepper them with little holes) that decided the matter for them. What if I’d had no gun?, I wondered.
And so I became a believer.
I knew back then from reading about the subject that shooting someone, even in utterly-justified self-defense, is difficult – sometimes devastating. That lesson was reinforced by my concealed carry training class, about a year and a half ago, with the excellent Joel Rosenberg (who I recommend without reservation to those of you who are looking to get qualified); shooting a person, even when it’s utterly justified, is at best the beginning of an emotional rollercoaster, the entree to years of trouble.
So it’s nothing anyone should look into lightly. Lesson learned.
A story in today’s Strib piece about a man who shot a stalker – his girlfriend’s apparently-deranged ex – last winter – is a great case study.