Back in the middle ages, during college, I dated a med student whose dad was an English professor at Virginia Tech -- you've probably read some of the reference books he edited. So I've had some good times in the Blacksburg area. The landscape is very pretty there, with lots of winding country roads dotted with charming mountain homes. But it's also in a southern state with a history of defending the second amendment. Everybody's got a gun.
My boyfriend's family not only had
small firearms, they also had racks of rifles. Somebody, I think it was his
mother, liked to restore old guns as a hobby. No knitting for that
lady. She eventually divorced his dad and moved up north to live with
another woman. It was a long time before I figured out they
weren't cohabitating to save on the rent. But, I digress.
One afternoon during a visit, my
hunk of burning love put a .22 pistol on the seat between us and took
me out to shoot at cans in the dump. I had no choice in the
Over the years I've noticed that
people who love guns think it's their duty to convert people who don't
like guns to their point of view.
Despite all their efforts, I still
don't like pistols. As far as I'm concerned they have no other purpose
than to threaten, maim or kill. I can do that with a look.
On the other hand, I think shooting
rifles or shotguns at targets or clay pigeons sounds like fun. And based on my
limited but eyeopening experience at my daughter's camp, I have a
natural ability at marksmanship that I didn't know about. But long ago, I opted for sports that didn't use bullets.
For the most part I think guns
follow the laws of attraction. If you have a gun for protection, you
will attract people you need to protect yourself against.
My boyfriend, being a good southern
boy, wanted to show me how
to use the gun. He figured if I had the experience I would somehow be converted to a gunlover.The fact
that I didn't want to touch the pistol, let alone shoot the thing didn't matter. After my
safety lesson at the dump, he told me to shoot at the cans. I did what he asked,
hated the noise, didn't see the point, and handed the .22 back to him for good.
Eventually we broke up and he married someone else in my class.
A couple of decades later I was at
college for a reunion. Before the day's scheduled festivities, I joined
several classmates in a beautfiul garden not far from the main campus.
We gathered around a natural stone memorial we had donated to
honor the woman who had married my old boyfriend. She had recently died
in an unfortunate accident.
Apparently, after my ex-boyfriend became a
continued the family tradition of restoring antique firearms.
Supposedly he's considered to be one of the best in the country. When
we were dating I was not aware that guns were so tightly woven into his
character. My distaste for them was probably a dealbreaker for him. His
rigid personality ended up being the dealbreaker for me.
On their property there was a
range to test the guns. Supposedly his wife was out on the range
when a bullet she shot ricocheted and hit her in the chest. She died
instantly. I have yet to buy into the story because it raised
more questions than it answered. Regardless, nothing would bring her
back to life. But the details of her death weren't the main thing that
struck me when I
first heard the news.
What got me was the uncomfortable realization that somehow, in some way, she could have been me.