Sunday, April 22, 2007

Blacksburg and Guns

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 matter.

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 doctor he 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 firing 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.

4 comments:

screaminremo303 said...

I've been on a lot of ranges with many weapons. I suppose it could happen, but the odds are r-e-m-o-t-e.

"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."

You've met my ex-wife?

psychfun said...

I agree...very odd!

eilenbug said...

Guns only kill the people they are aimed towards.

jayveerhapsody said...

Despite all of my Big Talk about gun-toting Texans, I don't like guns or their detrimental possibilities. What happened to your ex-boyfriend's wife is not an uncommon accident. I have two guns - one was my great -grandfather's. The other belonged to my father. I know how to use them, but hopefully I'll never have to.......Jon

By the way, I don't like weddings, either - but the flower girl is cute.