that time i shot a gun

House of Betsy Ross, Philadelphia, PA
Thanksgiving 2015, I shot a gun for the first time. Actually I shot five guns many times. In full disclosure: a Glock 34 9 mm, Beretta Neos, Ruger 22/45 Lite, Ruger 22 Takedown and a Ruger 10/22 rifle. I have no idea what all that gibberish is, I had to ask my Dad to recount the actual pieces. To me, it was more like: the small shiny silver one, the stubby black one, the long wooden guy, the long black plastic thing, that one over there, etc.

Never in my life had I a desire to shoot anything (except the shit, I live for that), but my Dad was taking all the kids to the shooting range, and I didn’t want to be left out of the family fun. Not-so-strangely, he had pre-arranged this with all of the kids but me, most likely because he didn’t think I’d be interested. It’s no secret my Dad and I have quite a difference of opinion on certain subject matters, namely all the ones you never bring up at a party if you want it to remain a party.

I should mention all of us “kids” are well into our 30s, some with kids of our (their) own.

We left the shooting range carrying a basket full of mixed feelings. My brother enjoyed himself, just as he had the time before, and the times before that. His wife did not. She hated pretty much everything about it. My sister appreciated learning the basics, but meh, guns aren’t really her thing. Her husband thought shooting at a range was fine; he owns a shotgun and sometimes hunts pheasants. To eat, not just cuz.

But me? I loved it. Loved it.

But not as much as I love my bike. New Glarus, WI
Gun people, I get you. These manmade handheld objects fascinated me. It’s hard not to have fear and respect for such a powerful machine. Just knowing what they are capable of is part of the adrenaline rush, part of the fear. My brain struggled to connect the tiny visual with the gigantic sound. I pulled the target in closer to view, again and again, amazed that I created those tiny puncture holes from farther and farther away. I was delighted when I hit clusters of accuracy, exactly what I aimed for, five splatterburst bullet holes in the same small circle. I liked learning how to lock and load, unload, knowing the proper way to handle and hold. I liked learning from my mistakes, adjusting my aim. I liked the challenge. I liked the process. I liked shooting guns.

Though I haven’t shot a gun since, I would definitely shoot a gun at a range again. I personally think it’s safer to know the correct way to use a gun than to NOT know how to use a gun at all, if only for the simple fact that guns exist. That is a fact we cannot ignore. Sort of like going hiking in the woods and not knowing how to protect yourself in an encounter with a grizzly bear. Do bears exist? Yes. Will you encounter them in the woods? Depends which woods, maybe, maybe not, but if I do, I sure as hell want to know what to do next. Do guns exist? Yes. Will you encounter them randomly in the woods? Depends which woods, not likely, but on the off chance I do, I sure as hell want to know how to disarm one. Plus when the zombies come, I’ll be ready. That, my friends, is called Tosh-Logic.

How I often feel when I apply tosh-logic…alone. Tree found bicycling Wisconsin roads.
I never felt powerful while shooting, though I recognized I was holding power, in the presence of power. I like to think I am a fairly stable human with a fairly sane mind. But those same feelings of adrenaline and power, power that I felt radiate from the gun, not from my hand, could easily transform into a feeling of exaggerated human strength, super powers, given to a slightly unstable human with a slightly less sane mind. Maybe even a mind that has had the, “I’ll show them,” thought cross it more than a few times. I don’t even want to imagine what kind of thoughts go through some minds after shooting a gun for the first time.

And that’s sort of the problem.

We can’t hear thoughts, predict intent. We can’t enter the minds of others. And then we hand them assault weapons. Legally.

Lots of people own guns. Tall people, short people, rich people, poor people, all colors of skin people, people of all religions, men, women, old, young; good people own guns and bad people own guns. And just so we’re clear, the good gun owners aren’t all tall white Christian men, while the bad gun owners = every other combination. My Dad is the kind of person you want to own guns. You know, intelligent, military trained, respects the piece, still has his sanity. I sort of wish he’d make it a personal mission to just buy up all the available guns and store them in a giant undisclosed bunker, just waiting for whatever it is people with bunkers of guns are waiting for. He’s not a violent man, but he is a man of a certain opinion. And he likes his guns. And that’s fine. We can’t get rid of all guns. We can’t get rid of all violence, all terrorism, even if we could get rid of all the guns. Guns are a part of the world we live in, like it or not.

But that doesn’t mean we have to sit back and accept the way the world is turning.

I get it, guns serve a purpose. They provide protection. They save lives, when put in the right hands. But for the love of Prince, please, please, tell me how any civilian can justify the need to own military grade weapons of war, designed for nothing but rapidly destroying anything aimed at as quickly as possible?

For whom the bell tolls…Philadelphia, PA
Yeah, yeah, I heard you. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. That may be true, but WE are the ones putting those assault weapons in the hands of the People Not Killing People AND the People Killing People, allowing them to kill even more People. WE give people the ability to kill 50 instead of five when they carryout their Plans of Destruction. WE are killing people, people. Don’t put yourself above the “Bad” People holding the “Good” guns that kill people. Don’t wait until your child is the victim, when you get the call that your husband or mother or daughter has been murdered in a senseless act of violence, until you yourself are directly affected, to let this point sink in.

And please don’t spout off that right to bear arms baloney. You have the right to bear arms…no one is taking away your right to bear arms. Rest assured, you arms are beared. Bear all the arms. But unless you are planning a mass shooting in the near future, why the automatic assault weapons? Please tell me how and why your need and your right to bear these particular arms is worth more than the LIVES destroyed by these same weapons? Please look into the eyes of the friends and families of every victim gunned down by your precious assault weapons and stand your ground, while you watch the ground around them collapse. While their world crumbles. While they have to wake up in a tomorrow without the people that made them whole. Tell them how they are mistaken, how a gun didn’t kill their husband and father of three, but People did. And then walk away, pretending you aren’t part of the People, proud and tall. At least you can sleep at night knowing you still have your right to that assault weapon to protect you from…wait…

It’s coming…whatever IT is.
Protect you from what exactly? Ten thousand angry yetis storming your front door? Vampire and Wesen takeovers? The zombie apocalypse? The White Walkers? Winter IS coming, but you’re gonna need some dragon glass for that, man. Plus, you watch too much TV.

Or maybe you are one of those people who feel assault weapons, any weapons, will protect you from us. From the People, from the Government, when they turn on you, turn on us all. And if that’s where you are at in life, then I feel sorry for you. Because you’ve already given up. You’d rather sit and wait for the world to end, trigger finger ready, instead of lifting that same finger to help make change for good. Instead of working toward a better tomorrow, you’ve prematurely created, accepted and live in the worst today. And that’s on you, my friend.

Plenty of citizens (first world to boot) coexist with their governments without the unrestricted right to bear arms. Imagine that. If we are this great country we say we are, with all of our lands of opportunities filled with freedom…what the hell are we so afraid of? I thought the point was to NOT live in fear.

Philadelphia, PA
But let’s say your worst fear comes to fruition. That moment you’ve been preparing for, the end of America as we know it…I for one don’t want to be one of the elite few standing. I don’t want to sit on my Have Throne with my assault weapons and bricks of gold, looking down at all the Have Nots. How much joy can I find in a world where everyone around me is suffering or dead? What’s the point? To survive? To make it? To be right? To be feared? To cling onto rights our forefathers would most certainly cringe at today if they saw how the world, how people have changed? I worked my ass off to get where I am in today in this free world, and I’ll work just as smart and hard to survive in this hypothetical world of destruction. And I’ll do it without assault weapons and bricks of gold.

But hey, that’s just me.

You can do what you want.

Because, America.

Love. Madison, WI

2 thoughts on “that time i shot a gun

  1. Protect you from whaaaa? This is especially true for all the middle-class white folks in our land of cheese, who live in neighborhoods so rough they don’t even have to lock their doors at night.

    The fear is very real. TV tells us every day. More guns and more bombs, lest we become slaves to the British monarchy yet again.

    Also, I miss your cats.


  2. Hi Tosh

    I had tears in my eyes twice while reading your posting: the first time for its content, which expresses perfectly exactly what has been on my mind (and I did target shooting with a Remington rifle at age 8 and LOVED it and couldn’t understand why, as a) I wasn’t a boy, b) I was an Indian not a cowboy, and c) I would have been vegetarian if my mother had allowed it. As soon as I left home, I was. At 8 I think you naturally see things in black and white. At Donald Trump’s age, and the age of his supporters, you should have grown up enough to be able to see and try to comprehend the world in all its complexity. Trump is coming here to Britain on the day after the EU referendum, and all I can say is that I’m relieved he isn’t coming in the run-up to the election, because it’s already on a knife edge, and his fucking pontifications could sway it towards exiting from the EU (which I fear is likely to happen anyway). And I’m afraid that he’s using the Orlando shootings to further his own position, and may end up winning the election.

    The other tears were for the gorgeous, wonderful photos of gorgeous, wonderful Wisconsin, which I miss so much (I haven’t been back since 1983, when I left – Madison, Green Bay and Appleton).

    Thanks so much, as always, for your wonderful postings. I’ve signed up to receive a number over the years, but yours and one other person’s are the only ones I’ve stayed with. Don’t ever stop. And if you’re ever in Edinburgh and need a place to stay, you’d be very welcome here. My house is an 1824 meeting house on a charming little almost-forgotten street, 20 minutes’ walk from Edinburgh Castle.

    all best,

    Susan Bittker >


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