Recently, I was spending the evening at a friend’s place, along with a few other people. It was a typical night, enjoyable and nothing out of the ordinary. We were sitting around a table, listening to music, discussing our plans, and teasing each other. Somehow, the conversation turned around to the subject of guns. Two of the guys I was with were joking around with another, telling him he should invest in a gun, get a concealed carry permit. He wasn’t interested, laughed it off, and that should have been that. In every other situation I have been it, conversations about firearms have never been more than hypothetical.
But then, as if out of nowhere, there were two sitting there on the table in front of me.
I had never been that close to a gun before. Not a real one. Sure, I had seen plenty of firearms – usually antiques that seemed somehow quaint with their bayonets and single shots – locked safely up in museum cases. There was even that faintly alarming incident on the city bus when a gun fell out of a man’s pocket when he was getting off. Even that didn’t seem real though. It happened so quickly, and was such a combination of the surreal and the predictable, that the gun that ever so briefly fell at my feet never quite entered into the realm of reality. It just felt too much like fiction.
But those guns on the table, those were real. And they had both come from my friends’ pockets.
I realized suddenly, unsurprisingly, how much I really hated guns. Their presence made me edgy, and even though the owners were treating them respectfully and adhering to the rules of gun safety (don’t point it at anyone, don’t treat it like a toy) I wanted them away. Far away.
What made me even more uncomfortable than the guns themselves though, was the fact that they had been hidden. I had spent time with both of these guys before, on many occasions; I had been sitting and chatting and laughing with them all evening. I had never had even the faintest idea that either of them not only had guns, but had concealed carry permits and carried them regularly.
The next time one of them came over for a small gathering at our apartment, I found myself eyeing his pocket, searching for an outline.
That night was an eye-opener for me. Sure, I have always hated the idea of guns and have never been interested in seeking them out in the slightest. I am wholeheartedly for stricter gun control in this country, and I firmly believe that the second amendment in no way grants the inalienable right to a semi-automatic weapon to anyone who so chooses. I was even aware, in that same sort of hypothetical, theoretical haze that had always characterized my relationship with firearms, that guns in America are pervasive.
What I had failed to grasp is exactly what that means.
That night in with friends, it became shockingly clear to me just how easy it is to conceal a weapon on one’s person. And to do so legally.
I’m not trying to use this post to craft a coherent and compelling argument against the currently lax gun regulations in this country; there are plenty of articles already out there that do so much better than I could (like this one, and this one). I am just trying to express the disillusionment I felt that night, in all of its exhausting inevitability.