The Education Of A Gun Owner

by John Samuel Tieman

Gun Day One

Actually, I am not a gun owner. I am half a gun owner. The revolver is right here, in front of my keyboard.

I never thought I’d say that. With the exception of one drunken New Year’s at John McGoogan’s, I haven’t fired a weapon since I was in Vietnam.

I’m surprised I have a pistol. I didn’t plan on it.

My wife’s parents went into the old folks home a few weeks ago. My wife and I, and well as my in-laws, have been moving stuff out of their home ever since, this in anticipation of selling the house.

Phoebe, my wife, really wanted her father’s desk, a lovely oak affair with plenty of drawers. Her father used the desk at the pharmacy he owned, the Delmar-Taylor Pharmacy. He had moved the desk from his pharmacy to his house in University City.

We moved the desk into Phoebe’s study, but the drawers were stuck. The two movers fussed with them until, finally, the bottom drawer opened. And there was an old .38 pocket pistol, along with a holster and a box of ammunition.

The men all paused. Suddenly, something was in the room that could kill us.

Phoebe, interestingly, took the least interest. “I was wondering where that gun was.” She knew her father had a .38. He had been robbed several times at the pharmacy, so a sympathetic cop gave him the pistol in maybe 1950 or ’60. At that time, it would have been a very old weapon. Eventually, he brought it home. Phoebe, in a sense, grew up with it. I, on the other had never had a weapon in the house.

I asked the mover to hand it to me. Now. From my army days, I know this much about handling a weapon: First, make sure it’s unloaded.

The mover offered me 20 bucks for it. I said no. My first impulse was to throw it away. But it’s not really mine. It’s my father-in-law’s. Except he’s blind and in the old folks home, so I guess it’s my wife’s, which makes it half-mine.

What do I do with a gun?

It’s a Smith and Wesson. Respectable. The revolver is in good condition. No rust. Barely needs oiling and cleaning. My father-in-law was the gun owner equivalent of the “little ole lady from Pasadena.” Then I look at the ammunition. Hollow points. So my gentle father-in-law had his bad-ass potential.

I’m not about to shoot any of this stuff, however. Not until I’m sure it’s all safe. The revolver and the ammunition are old. And I’d like to get older.

So how do I feel about this weapon?

It’s arousing. I feel powerful. But that feeling is fleeting. Because I fought a war, I know what it’s like to be shot at and shoot back. But I know enough about all that to know that this doesn’t mean I could do it again. Still, there have been some shootings in the nearby park, and, while I wouldn’t call myself paranoid, I have my dark visions.

This whole business raises all manner of question. Given my near-pacifist leanings, shouldn’t I just throw the revolver away? I’ve been extremely conscious of having a gun around the house. Do I really want to be comfortable with that? If I keep it, where do I keep it? What do I do with a gun?

If I’m going to get all bad-ass, shouldn’t I get a concealed carry permit? Or do I even want to take it outside the house?

If I keep the thing, should I take lessons – I used to be a musician, so the only comparison I have is to music lessons – in safety and shooting? If the truth be known, when I was in the army, I liked target practice. I was good at it, and I have Expert Rifleman Badge to prove it. Which reminds me that this weapon, like my old M-14, isn’t made for fun. It’s made for killing folks.

I’ve got to stop-by the police station, and ask them, “What do I do with a gun?”


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