Came home early yesterday because India was pretty sick – feverish and throwing up – and caught up on some news/talk shows while she napped. On Buchanan & Press – one of those conservative vs. liberal never-ending volleyball matches – author Richard North Patterson and some flack from the Gunowners of America were debating gun laws and reform, triggered (no pun intended) partly by the release of the videotape of the Columbine kids shooting guns in the woods a few weeks before they shot up some of their high school classmates, then killing themselves.

The gun flack kept coming back to his main point of guns as deterrents, ie: if everyone has one, people are less likely to use them. Like Nuclear bombs, I suppose? I don’t really buy into that logic as I’ve always figured if I had one, I’d be MORE likely to use it as they can be something of a shortcut to dealing with certain situations and there have been times in my life where I had a penchant for getting into certain situations. (Mind you, I’m not talking criminal stuff as I’ve never tried to play the gangsta role or give that impression. More like my tendency to not always think about the consequences of my actions would sometimes set me up for confrontations I couldn’t talk my way out of. OPP and such.)

I did own a .22 for a while, purchased while I was in the Army. When I got out and moved back to NYC, I often carried it with me, especially if I was going to be out late. Had a little holster for it and carried it in the small of my back, or in my backpack which I always carried, depending on where I was going. After a year or two, it ended up in a duffel bag in the closet where it stayed until we moved to Virginia and I decided to get rid of it. I only ever pulled it out twice (once on myself) and never fired it, not even in practice, but never fully trusted myself with it either as, despite my reputation for being a relatively patient person, I do have a bad temper that, once it’s set off, is tough to get back under control.

I think about that whenever Salomé tells me about some jackass guy making jackass guy comments on the street. I hate the way it makes her feel, but even more, I hate the fact that there’s nothing I can do about it. On the rare occasion there is the opportunity to confront the person I find myself at a loss. Those kind of controntations, especially when you’re outnumbered, rarely lead to anything good.

There was one time, a few years back, in a restaurant, and Salomé and a friend (Andie, I think) came back from the bathroom complaining about the guys in the kitchen harassing them. I don’t know what was different about that time – perhaps the relative comfort of knowing nothing too intense could jump off in a restaurant? – but I went back to the kitchen and confronted the two guys. They played innocent, going so far as to pretend they barely understood English. If I remember correctly, we ended up leaving without eating, after loudly complaining to the host on the way out. It was a small thing but at least it felt like I had done something.

A couple of weeks ago, it happened again as Salomé came up from the garage upset after being harassed by the guys replacing the boiler in our building. Feeling utterly helpless, I caught myself wishing I still had that gun and knew if I had, I’d have probably done something we’d all end up regretting. Of course, the alternative of not doing anything at all felt equally sickening.

That feeling ate at me for the rest of the day.

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