When I was twenty-one, I dated a guy who sold a machine gun to a stranger for $350 dollars. I visited him one afternoon, helped him hang blinds in his new apartment, and I pulled open a kitchen drawer to find the biggest gun I’ve ever actually laid my eyes on. It was just sitting there, the only thing in the drawer, black and jagged and knobby and foreign and two feet long. Is that small for machine guns? I don’t even want to know. I bleated out some string of words and curses that translated to What the hell is this and why do you have it? and I was met with the usual reply to questions I posed to him.
I just got it somewhere, I’m going to sell it, with his sly smile and bedroom eyes. Ugh.
I kept my thoughts to myself about the gun and two days later it was gone from the drawer, and my boyfriend told me we could go out somewhere for dinner that night because he’d made $350 from it. Boyfriend was a pretty strong word to use at that point, and shortly after this incident I caught him in bed with another girl and that was the end of that.
(Go home, past, you’re drunk!)
So, that was weird. I suppose it was the shadiest situation I have ever had personally with a gun, and as far as shady situations with guns go, I guess it wasn’t so bad. So that doesn’t explain to me why I have pretty much always had an intense aversion to guns. I tell people I hate guns, and hate’s a strong word and all that, but it’s probably true. I think I hate guns. I think I am one of those people that other people would describe as WACKADOO because I really would prefer to live in a country with gun laws like Japan, who had only 11 gun related deaths in 2008, while in the same year the US had over 12,000.
When I am in a public place and I see or get close to a security guard or a police officer, I tense up with fear. I can actually feel a quickening in my heart rate – my fight or flight kicking in, that most basic instinct. I don’t look at people with guns and think of safety. I look at people with guns and think: they could snap – they might just feel insane today, something statistically improbable could happen and their gun will spontaneously explode near me, someone could run up to them and grab their gun and start shooting, a child could grab their gun. Hello, anxiety.
So I am really glad I wasn’t home Saturday afternoon when the man who lives 20 feet from my bedroom window decided to barricade himself in his home and threaten to shoot the first cop he saw. I was alerted to this situation going down from my friend Brian, who called from Arizona where his mother had been looking on the New London Day website and saw the breaking news bulletin. I drove by my road at about 7pm to see what was going on and the entire street was blocked off. There were police, fire, ambulances, paramedics, SWAT trucks, news vans and tons of onlookers, and the place was lit up like Christmas. I knew right when I drove by that it was my neighbor who was in the standoff.
I’m glad I wasn’t home. Apparently this neighbor who I’ve never met or spoken to had number of guns of his house, and despite what anyone in these article comments say, he wasn’t a quiet or stable seeming man. I often heard him fighting loudly with other other people at all hours, and only a few weeks ago another neighbor sent the police to his house at about three in the morning because he decided to start blasting his metal music at 2am.
I’m glad I wasn’t home, but mostly because of what happened to the people who were home that afternoon. They were taken from their homes, shuffled out of their doors by men with guns and in tactical gear, made to leave all of their belongings and cars and they were walked out to the post road where they were then shuttled to the community center.
It must have been a living nightmare. I know that I would need some extra, and extra intense therapy if I were ever evacuated from my home by men with guns. One of my biggest fears, if I haven’t mentioned it yet, is of our country being occupied by militia. Someone else’s troops occupying my streets like we go in and occupy. Invasion. That scares the crap out of me. So, how do you think I would feel, hearing a knock at the door and being greeted by a man with a uniform and a gun?
But even worse, how would Elise feel? How would I explain to my little girl that once again, barely a month later, our lives were impacted by an asshole with a gun?
We were lucky that we were able to spend the night in a good friend’s guest room. We were displaced, but we weren’t entirely put out. Elise was really confused about why we couldn’t go home, so much so that I don’t really think she was that excited about the prospect of WE’RE HAVING A SURPRISE SLEEPOVER! She kept asking what was happening at our house, is our house going to be okay, can we go home tomorrow? But by the morning the questions dwindled, as they tend to do with her. Luckily she moves on so much faster than I do, she doesn’t spend hours ruminating about things you can’t control.
That’s the thing of it. We aren’t safe and we’re all going to die. It’s just a kick in the gut when something happens so close to you. 20 feet from your home. It’s a what if? scenario that keeps playing over and over in my mind, one I wish I didn’t have to think about, because I wish that guns could just not be a part of my world.
If wishes were horses…
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