Put The Gun Down
When it comes to guns most Americans have been raised to accept that a gun is part of their life. I'm sure there was a time when no one really gave it much thought. A few hundreds years ago it was put in our constitution that everyone had the right to 'bear arms'. What that meant was all citizens have the right to own a muzzle loader to protect themselves and hunt for food. That law opened an opportunity for gun manufactures who began inventing and developing new guns, easy to shoot guns, powerful guns to use any time, anywhere, by anyone who wants to use them. As a teenager I dated a guy who was raised in a houseful of guns. They meant nothing more to him than a garden tool. In those days a person learned to use the gun in the correct manner but otherwise never really gave it much thought. People had guns. People went target shooting. Sometimes people shot something they thought needed to die. But it was how we were raised, it was our life. And he taught me to shoot.
It turned out I was a very, very good shot. I never killed anything but often wiped out several target circles, so when I married a professional gun smith, my skills of sighting in a firearm came in handy. The one thing we agreed on when it came to the dozens of different kinds of guns in the house and shop was that none of them would ever be loaded until just before they were meant to be fired. It helped to know there was no danger of accidental death when a firearm was taken off the wall.
Many years later fate saw us living only about an hour from downtown Los Angeles and I can say without hesitation it's a dangerous place. It's famous and beautiful, but it's dangerous. Murder happens every day. Just about every crime you can think of happens every day. One day I was watching a high speed freeway chase on TV being broadcast by a police helicopter. We all know escape is never possible in that area but for some reason a lot of people feel it's safer to try to outrun the cops than to give themselves up. In this chase the man stopped, got out of the car with a shot gun, and killed himself. I was filled with intense sadness and fear for the first time in my life. A person needed help but was given none. I realized anything could happen in that area, and from that moment on I went out of my way to keep to myself, not make eye contact with anyone, and just tend to my own business. I had never felt that way before. I was always an outgoing person who had lived in small rural towns where everyone knew everyone. You could talk to anyone anywhere. If you needed help, all you had to do was ask for it. And here I was in an area where people were killed every day for no reason. And I, too, had a gun. A very good gun, an easy to load, easy to shoot automatic. It was kept in the closet in pieces so if someone tried to steal it they would only get a piece of the weapon, not all of it. But I could put it together, load it, and shoot anything in about 5 seconds.
And one night I did. We lived out in a rural residential area with each house on a couple of acres so there were no real close neighbors and no one talked to anyone, no neighbor interaction. Everyone just kept to themselves. I always kept the doors locked but knew they were not a very safe kind of door and my husband and I had been talking about replacing them with something more solid and safe, but for some reason it was not at the top of the list of things we needed to do.
On 'The Night' I was walking in the hallway toward the living room when I saw two men standing not far from my glass front door. It was a fully fenced two acre piece of land so there was no way to accidentally wander on to the property. I knew there was trouble. I quickly made sure the door was locked, outside lights on, inside lights off, then ran into the bedroom, took out the gun, put it together and loaded it. Then I called 911. I told the lady on the line there was no way these men were on my property for a legitimate reason. She told me things were busy that night and I was in a very rural area so it might take awhile for the County or State patrol to check on me. I told her okay, but I wanted her to know I felt a little bit safer because I had a loaded 22 Luger automatic pistol and was a very good shot. If they came in the door, they would be dead. She acknowledged my statement about the gun and kept making small talk while I could hear her typing in the background. I swear it was not 5 minutes later I suddenly saw several bright headlights on the road outside my property. Some of the vehicles were pointing toward the house but didn't pull on to the property. I told the dispatcher it looked like the cops decided to pay me a visit after all!
At that very moment I heard something that, to this day, still makes me laugh and come to tears at the same time. My place was surrounded by cops! And on a cop loudspeaker I heard: "PUT THE GUN DOWN AND STEP OUTSIDE."
I told the dispatcher it was amazing! There were cops outside! A lot of them! And they were pointing guns at ME! She was laughing and gently said it was because of the gun part of our conversation, I should do what they asked. I told her I had better put the phone down so they would not think I was still holding the gun when I stepped outside. She laughed and said that was a good idea and hung up. I stood in the large kitchen window, laid the gun on the table, laid the phone down and opened the back door. I yelled loudly: "I am NOT armed! I am coming out!" And at that moment in time my life was at the mercy of about 10 cops hopefully resisting their reflex to shoot a person they were told had a gun. I opened the back door, stuck my arms high in the air, my hands spread wide, and stepped outside to my fate.
I lived through it. Three cops ran toward me, guns drawn until they saw I was not armed. Oddly no one went inside the house to check out my gun so I turned on every light inside and out to light up the property. Evidently they had no reason or legal right to come in the house, so they just began doing their job looking for prowlers on the property turning on all the lights on the equipment sheds. I was not surprised when they told me there was no one on the property. Anyone in their right mind would have done whatever it took to get off that property at that particular moment. I thanked the police kindly and watched as about 7 state cops drove away. But I sat in a dark living room holding a loaded gun until my husband came home from work late that night. It's hard to describe the mood... hard to describe the moment that changed my life.
I never had prowlers again, but I knew I was done with the danger of life in that part of the world. It was time to go home where I could talk to people, make eye contact, wave to a baby, and hold my hand out to someone and be greeted with a caring smile and a no-gun hello. I thanked the energy around me for helping me put the gun down, and step out of that world. I never missed it. .And have never missed having a gun. I knew the energy of danger and realized killing was not in my nature so I left the need for a gun behind. I thank you, Fate, for making sure there are places where I feel safe just having a good pocket knife, and not having the need to "put the gun down!
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