Baring My Soul About Bearing Arms

This is a 9 mm Smith & Wesson M&P. I bought it three and a half years ago and I’m not sure I want it anymore. The gun itself is very nice. The recoil isn’t too bad and there are interchangeable grips; a helpful feature for someone with small hands like me. The dilemma regarding ownership is purely a moral one.

Just like I didn’t come from a camping or skiing family, I didn’t come from a hunting or shooting family either. Oh sure, my Dad had a .38 Special he kept in his dresser drawer for protection living in the ‘hood and for shooting cans when we’d go on vacation to Guerneville on the Russian River. Luckily, he never had to use it in self-defense. It was never locked in a safe, or had a child lock on it. He did keep the bullets somewhere else, however. Back then, child-proofing involved a talk from Dad:

(showing me the gun)
This is Daddy’s gun. It’s not a toy.
Don’t touch it. Do you understand?

Yes, Daddy.

That was it. He did try to teach my mother to shoot it once while we were on vacation. It didn’t go well. Even with such a tiny gun, Mom kept dropping the barrel and Dad worried that she’d shoot her foot. Or his. Hence, the lessons ended. When he died, Mom and I didn’t want the gun around since neither of us had the skill or the desire to shoot. So, we turned it in to the city of San Francisco for cash.

Fast-forward to 2008 and I found myself contemplating learning how to shoot. Part of my reasoning had to do with not wanting to be afraid of firearms. There was a lot of talk at the time about the Second Amendment and gun rights in general, so it got me to thinking that I should give this “right to bear arms” thing a whirl.

I took classes, bought the gun and for about a year, I went to the gun range almost every weekend. I found it empowering and humbling. Until you’ve fired a gun, you have no idea about the power that it expends. There is definitely a skill to target shooting and I loved challenging myself. I was also pleasantly surprised that the stereotype I had in my mind about “gun people” wasn’t what I experienced. At the range I frequented in Silicon Valley, the demographics included all age groups, men and women, and all different races and ethnicities. I realized that this was the Bay Area, but still, it was refreshing.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve found myself not only disinterested in shooting but actually pondering the karmic ramifications of gun ownership for me. The main question is, am I inviting unwanted violence into my life by merely having a gun? I’ve always been someone who gave credence to the belief that we manifest what we focus on. And if my focus is on shooting a gun and getting better at it, am I somehow inviting the universe to provide me with an opportunity to do just that, but not at a paper target? It’s a frightening thought.

I’ve wondered if I’d have the same karmic dilemma if I decided to take self-defense classes or martial arts. Is there a difference between these two situations? I honestly don’t know. I do know that I’m really curious to get some input from any readers who have an opinion one way or the other.

4 thoughts on “Baring My Soul About Bearing Arms

  1. You bring up some very good points Kelly and I’m surprised how they made me think twice. I’m am about as anti-gun as you can get. I took Outdoor Education in junior high school & almost failed the course because I refused to touch a gun when it came to the shooting range portion of it. I’ve experienced no violence directly related to guns, it was just innate in me to hate them. (also being a Canadian our ideaology around them is quite different from our American counterparts, generally speaking of course). Even in my darkest moments of flashbacks to a very violent situation that happened to me, my ‘payback fantasies’ involve a baseball bat, not a gun.

    I’m curious to the reasons why you are second guessing owning one? I guess my opinion is that with a self defense course, you’re somewhat more in control as to what kind of damage can be inflicted. A gun shot (in my opinion) has much more random damage, with death being a higher factor. Of course a misplaced punch could have the same results but I’m betting the chances are much less.

    Interested to hear a follow up on what you ultimately decide…

  2. A couple of things are prompting me to re-evaluate having a gun. The main reason is the notion of manifesting, as I stated in the blog post. If I’m to give more than lip service to the belief that we manifest what we focus on, then I want to be very clear on those focus points. Most of the things I’ve manifested in my life haven’t been what I truly wanted to manifest. They were just the things I focused upon the most. For example, if instead of focusing on finding rewarding, fulfilling employment, my focus is on being unemployed, a state of being unemployed is what I’ll continue to manifest. In essence, I’ll manifest what I don’t want. Does this make any sense?

    Going along with the manifesting issue, is a desire to not be motivated out of a sense of fear. When I got into the gun stuff, I was in a very negative, fear-based mindset about the state of the world. I’m trying to move out of that ideology and by doing that, it brings up the potential contradiction with owning a gun. I’m not making any judgments on other people who own guns or why they do. I just see a dilemma for me.

    I like your self defense explanation. It does make sense in terms of the amount of control one has regarding damage inflicted. Thanks for your thoughts, Sam. 🙂

  3. Your response is also thought provoking. Maybe you’re right about thoughts manifesting in action (or non-action). I like that you make me think about things in a different light!

  4. I’m glad that you’ve found this post interesting, Sam. It’s such a complex issue with emotions running high on both sides.

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