Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Carrying a Firearm- What It's Really About.

You look, and you steady yourself, prepared, yet not, anticipating the recoil of something you've never felt in your life; wanting it, expecting it, yet still sort of afraid of it. With the intake of breath and the gentle movement of your muscles finite contraction, the trigger draws towards you.

It's your first time shooting a large caliber handgun. The gun is not that large, you could conceal it with the right clothing, yet the bullet seems immense in your hand after the .22. Firing it for the first time is not what you expected, it's more and it's less, and you exert every square inch of pressure on to the floor that your feet can manage, locking hands and arms tight. You could hear it fire though even good ear protection; the explosion of sound, and the smell, the room buzzing as the bullet cleaves the darkness of the low lit range.

It's a sound you were oblivious to for years, and from now on, when you hear one from a distance, or a range stall one or two down from where you stand, you will look with a smile, to see what it was they are holding.


In just small moments of your life, things change, in a flash of light dancing with movement. A change of a way of thinking, a change of need, in a perfume of lead and powder that kisses your hair, creating in your mind the unbroken diminishing cessation of fear.

For in that one shot, with the confidence it brought, I knew. With this weapon, and practice, I can walk freely, a woman unbound by convention or unseated fear. I can hold my head up high, aware of my surroundings, walking with that purpose that shows I am not afraid of you any longer. Too many victims, too many women afraid, nothing left but soft murmuring bones and deep sighs like wind. Brave women, yet in the end, unarmed, their fight so insubstantial against mass and anger that we can not distinguish it from the bone colored earth that is all that remains or their final moments.

One minute a young girl was jogging, music in her ears, clothing scant in the hot weather and concealing little, not form, not fear, not fearlessness. She is the age of the innocent, with that bubbling naive impatience of youth, the blending of childlike trust that seems to protect without reason, but rather, robustly inhibits the skills she needs to survive. It won't happen to me, this is a good neighborhood. I'm in good physical shape. I've heard them all from victims. Those still alive to talk.

It was a beautiful night, the sense of peace and quiet, the night breeze building steadily, bringing with it the damp familiar breath of water. She was running, there alone along the river, which she now saw, for the last time, as she rounded a small curve, the path reaching off into the twilight that was advancing fast. She'd meant to get home before now but she had stopped to readjust her headset, slipping from the sweat on her brow, stopped to just enjoy being young and carefree.

From the trees a shadow, watching, stalking, creeping forward, driving shadows behind as he advances. In a moment, the attack unheard by anyone by the cold blooded, she was taken, pulled into the darkness by the dark thief, who wants that childlike innocence flowing like water through his hands, until it too disappears into the dark soil.

She doesn't come home that night. We read it in the paper, we hope and we cry along with the family. Strangers, yet, parents ourselves, we are connected by a web that binds us all together. It happens much too often. Monthly, sometimes weekly, a young woman taken, child, mother, daughter wife. Those that seek closure to such crimes do what they can, walking into the family home with no answers, only determination, looking up the stairwell that goes to a room now empty, the echoes of a child's feet laying on the steps like the dust of a generation that will never be.

We hold our own children close and we pray that those that prey on the gentle meet their own demise in a smear of hard red, for it is not a forgiving God we want for such monsters, but the Jehovah of might and justice.

I won't be one of those women. Nor will my daughter. Not if I can help it.

Years later, the sound of the same type of shot echoes in the air, darkness blends behind it as if its passing were only a thought. But the muscle memory holds, and I gently squeeze again, an expenditure of breath and muscle that in this moment sounds only like innocence protected. The discharge of the weapon is more than power and noise. It's an inarguable truth, like something I view under a microscope now, seen clearly, supporting the truths that I learned the hard way.

Yes, I do this for protection, but I also do it for other reasons. It's about skill, it's about challenging myself, it's about self awareness, purpose and the sheer affirmation of putting an exploding dot exactly where I want it to go, which is dead center in the forehead of a paper bad guy, holding a female hostage.


Carrying a weapon. It's not about dying. It's about living.

From two stalls down a small head looks around, a girl in her teens, shooting .22 with her LEO Dad, whom I know. She hears and sees my firearm, looks at me, and then at her Dad with a shy smile. Do you think I'm ready to try that? she asks.

I motion for them to come on over after ensuring the chamber is clear and the muzzle pointed away. Young lady, you are more ready than you know.

28 comments:

  1. I am speechless.

    You know so well why I do what I do on my free time. It is given freely here in these words encapsulated in this electronic medium with the same passion I possess. I however, cannot articulate it with your skill.

    Yes, the students I get for the most part are more than ready to take the leap. The understanding after the first shot with the .22 is profound and life changing for many.

    Bless you!

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  2. I'm speechless... awesome post.

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  3. Sorry! I have been remiss in my duties.

    I cannot thank you enough for the words of encouragement when I was a student of the Handgun recently. I was so frustrated with myself that I thought about giving up. You kept me in the fight. I am greatly appreciative of that!

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  4. Brigid,

    As a father and grandfather, thank you. I will share this with those I love and seek to protect.

    It is perfect.

    SWModel66

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  5. Brigid, on target with both word and weapon.

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  6. You put that one 'outta the park.

    You state the facts so articulately that you have to wonder how ANY anti-gunner could honestly argue against carrying or even possessing a weapon. I guess that's the point, they are not being honest.

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  7. Well said.

    The hunter safety and conceal carry classes are pretty full in this state. There are a lot of happy handgun owners here since the law was passed - and probably also a lot of nervous crooks.

    Not sure if I could manage to conceal hubby's handgun if he let me use it, and a slightly smaller one is not in the budget at the moment. I will just have to wait.

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  8. Absolutely dead on and beautifully put. And no matter what others may think it IS about living.

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  9. "Young lady, you are more ready than you know."

    ~~~

    Beautiful.

    I saw my granddaughter looking around that stall wall. :)

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  10. DAMN, you hit the nail right on the mark. . . again. I defy anyone to argue with your logic. I don't leave home without it and I don't give a damn who thinks I'm bad for doing it.

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  11. Words of clarity and truth! Some of my friends and family understand why I have begun walking this path, and others are baffled or alarmed. It is a huge shift of consciouness, as well as a great physical challenge.

    This is a poem that I wrote after the first time I shot, an afternoon spent with my sweetheart and a .22 rifle:

    twenty-two

    long years gone beyond nubile
    yet virgin still

    met with forethought
    eased into your familiar territory

    the mind shifts
    as the body learns
    as the spirit passes
    the henge gateway

    would that at sixteen
    kindness and love had touched me
    so carefully

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  12. I remember the awestruck look on my teenage daughters face when she first fired a freinds S&W Mod 29. She fell in love with the noise, recoil and power. Even though she is of average size she could handle the N-frame size and the cartridge recoil reasonably well. She's turning 21 soon, expecting her first child and to celebrate will go shopping to purchase her first handgun. She sees picking and purchasing her own handgun to be more a rite of passage than if it was a gift.

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  13. Beautiful... you eloquently capture the profound beginning of what ultimately results in continual subtle changes of reality for so many...

    With a maturing teenage daughter, instilling the prudence without the paranoia regarding the reality of our world and society is a necessary education that must be metered out with age appropriate lessons...

    I often worry for the many collegiate co-eds I encounter through my teaching that are so inadequately prepared for life, without their fully acknowledging the softness of their psyche or their physiological frailty...

    The strong survive, but the perverted prey on the weak who are naive, as they isolate their senses with ear-buds, blinding themselves with the miniature keyboards and screens of their texting...

    (sorry, the country boy gave way to the father and professor)

    Dann in Ohio

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  14. Brigid: as I lack your eloquence, I'll have to settle for "wow. Just... Wow!"

    Alison - your bit too is beautiful, and touches on the eroticism that I've seen many women find in the controlled power a firearm puts in their hands.

    For me it's always been a very "Zen" thing, even when I was too young to comprehend Zen - if I'd even ever heard the word...

    I spent the day teaching my step-daughter's roommate the basics of pistol craft, getting her set for dry-fire practice, so that our range-days next week can be more productive. Next weekend she'll no doubt ace the pistol qualification that is herr only remaining obstacle to a career in Federal protection services. She said that a couple of hours with me and a ultra-realistic "airsoft" copy of her duty-weapon did more for her than all the apparently ridiculous "training" she'd been provided, & all her hard-earned dollars spent on unproductive trips to the range with rented pistols & overpriced ammo...

    Years ago, I also taught my grown stepson the same, & he qualified "expert"on his first try as a newly-commissioned Naval Officer after a single "live-fire" range-trip.

    While my daughters were learning as they grew, Wifey's hoplophobia banned her kids from participation - so they were forced to wait until they were grown and could make the request for themselves as emancipated adults.

    Wifey still clings - bitterly - to her unneccessary fears and her irrational rejection of the simple tools and even simpler skills which could alleviate them.

    At this point - after 15 years of daily exposure to my CCW, my weekly range-trips and the cleaning which follows, the handguns in the nightstand, the long-guns in strategic places...

    After countless rounds with nary an accident...

    After seeing all four children we raised - three of them now Ladies in their own right who are aware but unafraid and the fourth a damn-fine Man - blossom with the self-confidence that comes with the knowledge that one need not fear predators and other things that go bump in the night...

    After ALL of this, she still lives her life surrounded by firearms she has NO IDEA how to operate, and will still slap her hands over her ears, squinch-shut her eyes, and sing "LALALALALALALA" like a petulant child if someone tries to show her anything about their use or function.

    I truly believe that the REAL hoplophobia has passed long ago - and all that remains now is the fear of some unspecified catastrophe shoul Id she ever admit that she might have been wrong about something - ANYTHING - Ever.

    Ever.

    So, she lives like a frightened little bunny, who refuses to acknowledge how easy it would be to become a fox - or at least send him running if he bothers her...

    She continues to regale me with her stories of some newly-experienced terror every time she its alone for a night, and often in daylight as well - how some noise made her fear attack in her own home, or some creep on the street - all of which is utterly and completely unnecessary given that while in our home she's never more than a few steps from a well-tuned, suitable home-defense weapon and has access to a literal baker's-dozen of others ideal for CCW.

    Yet it seems her fear of LOSING her fears - at the cost of admitting a past mistake - is greater than the fears themselves...

    I swear - I'll NEVER understand...

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  15. Beautiful Brigid. Today I once again saw a local story of a woman attacked. This one was robbed at gunpoint at a local ATM. She was pregnant. Every story like that is such an affirmation for me. Every time I get to practice with my trusty 9mm I feel even more at ease and feel more joy in it. You are right. It is about life and living and finding the joy in knowing that it truly is within our power to use these tools to protect us and those we love.

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  16. Predators - disguised in the clothing of humanity. They prey off those they think they can take down - which is... those who appear 'weak'.

    I agree Brigid.

    Guns are Real. But so is Death. Sugar and spice and everything nice is a mere hors d'oeuvre... a palete cleanser for the 3 course meal of maniacal depravity that would ensue upon the undefended flesh of the innocent.

    Daddys little girl needs to shoot - and start early. There are those who woould say that it would spoil the sweetness of the young lady. I beg to differ.

    As said in the Bible:

    "Wise as serpents, innocent as Doves".

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  17. Excellent.

    (WV: dorame. To which I can only add; fa, so, la, ti, do.)

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  18. Wonderful piece. This is why I shall teach my Little Bit to shoot. Thank you.

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  19. Oh Brigid, you've done it again.

    And again, and again. Wonderful thoughts, exceptional writing.

    Plus you love dogs.

    We must be sisters - Siamese twins, actually, joined at the attitude...

    Cap'n Jan
    All about dogs, boats and guns (As a single-handing woman sailor, dogs and guns are my best friend while aboard...)

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  20. Brigid. wow. and thank you. what a post. that i will print and re-read. over and over.

    i found you from my friend Stephen's blog - i can't wait to read through all of your old posts.

    wow. and thank you again.

    kymber

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  21. I have heard it said in different ways so many times I no longer know to whom goes the acknowledgement: "We carry not to be comfortable, but to be comforted." I remember the days of "Major Power Factor floor" and keep The Colonel's Flying Ashtray Loads .45ACP recipe pristine above the reloading bench.

    Because Mr. Murphy never takes a day off.

    I may not always have gum, but I will always have precise handloads and very good coffee.

    Only victims truly know the price of Condition White.

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  22. Must make my daughters read this. Thank you very much. Said WAY better than daddy could ever say it.

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  23. I'm glad this resonated with so many of you, especially the parents. My daughter carries, and her young husband is very supportive.

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  24. Well said. My gift from my parents on my 21st birthday was along these lines. (We shan't discuss how long ago that was. LOL)

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  25. I love this post!...exactly my feelings. I am not going to be one of those women if I can help it either! I look at a handgun as an equalizer and I am a pretty strong woman...I might be able to take one guy but not two..

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