No? OK then: a gun, for the love of Mike. A handgun that shoots real bullets.
Last gun I owned, I got rid of before leaving Wichita. It wasn’t because I had some Alan Alda moment of zen. It’s just that the safety was broken and I lost a little piece of it in disassembly and I figured the repair would cost me more than the gun was worth. So I gave it to one of the moving crew, who made me sign a bill of sale. Or a bill of give. Probably not the best decision, now that I think of it. Who knows why that mover wanted an unregistered handgun?
Not that I miss the gun itself. It was a Stoeger Arms .22LR with a six-inch barrel, styled to look like a Luger. Back in the day, I could reliably hit bottles at 40 feet, and then reliably hit the fragments of those bottles. I was an avenging angel when it came to breaking glass. But I haven’t fired a gun in the last decade now, and don’t expect to fire one again, unless it’s on a target range.
It’s just that we now live in a colorful neighborhood. Until a few weeks ago I’d have said it’s as safe as any neighborhood in America, but that’s probably not the case. We had a couple of shootings within days of each other, within blocks of my house. Both times, an AK-47 knock-off was used. After meeting with the police, I gather that the drug trade was somehow involved, and that people involved in that trade were the victims. Fair enough. But the AK-47 fires a jacketed, high-velocity round capable of carrying right through bodies and houses. When somebody uses one, it suggests an extreme disregard for the possibility of collateral damage. Not my kind of people, in other words.
Then my wife sat on a jury for a burglary trial, where the defendant was quickly found guilty because some older guy and his wife saw it in progress and went outside to take down the license number. That seems like basic citizenship, but the miscreants had just kicked open a locked door in broad daylight. People who do that can’t be counted on to curb their impulses. The couple was taking a risk. I don’t blame the guy for taking his shotgun with him while he eyeballed the license plate.
That plate number, and the couple’s willingness to say what they’d seen, made the difference between a guy doing five-to-15 in Florida’s prison system and a guy kicking in the doors of other houses far into the future. See, if that good citizen hadn’t had his shotgun, he might not have risked being seen. He wanted to do the right thing, but he needed some defense against being beaten or shot for his trouble.
I put myself in that guy’s place. I’m not talking about shooting down criminals caught in the act. I’m only good at bottles. I’m not even talking about Standing My Ground. That’s NRA bullshit: If somebody wants my ground, they’re welcome to it. I’m always willing to head for the tall weeds until things settle down. But this is a colorful neighborhood. Apparently, not everybody’s as easy-going as I am. If having a gun around makes me more likely to call the cops and witness what I can, and therefore defeat the forces of chaos, then I guess I’d better have one. Just for the record, I’d rather be buying wine.