I bought a gun today. Honestly, it had nothing to do with the current state of affairs in our country. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time and decided today was the day. I walked into a local gun store and was greeted by a woman who was standing behind the counter. She had a red bandana around her head, both her arms were covered by sleeve tattoos and she sported a very attractive nose ring. As I started asking questions, it was apparent she knew a lot about guns. Following her advice, I settled on a Springfield XD 9 mm handgun with a 16-round magazine.
I filled out the required paperwork and, despite my occasional trips to the principal’s office in grade school, passed the background check with flying colors. Then she said, “You can pick the gun up on Friday after a three-day cooling off period.”
I said, “What’s a cooling off period?”
She said, “Well, suppose a husband and wife get into a heated argument. The wife comes in to buy a gun to support her point of view. We make her wait three days until she can get her hands on a weapon. Or vice versa.”
“I guess that makes sense,” I said.
I’m no expert when it comes to guns, but I’m not a complete novice either. Three quick stories to validate that claim:
We moved to Wisconsin when I was 10 years old. We lived out in the country and all the boys that went to my school had BB guns. I asked my parents if I could get one. They both said no. So, like any 10-year-old kid that really wants something, I begged and pleaded and cried and begged some more until they got sick of listening to me. They finally let me buy a BB gun.
My friend David and I became the scourge of the neighborhood. The gopher population in the cemetery across the road went into steep decline. The pigeon population in his dad’s barn was decimated. Sharpshooters that we had become, one day we decided it might be fun to shoot at cars as they drove past his farm. We hid behind some trees and started taking potshots at unsuspecting motorists. PING! went the first shot. PING! went the second shot. When the third car drove past, we fired again. This time we heard a loud “POP!” followed by the sound of screeching tires when the driver realized his back window had just exploded. We were petrified and froze in place as the angry driver reversed direction, zipped into the driveway and confronted us. After being chastised and humiliated, we agreed to make restitution and split the $150 cost for a new car window. Sadly, our BB guns were confiscated for the rest of the summer.
When I was 15, the farmer I worked for gave me a single-shot 20-gauge shotgun for my birthday along with a box of shells. I loaded up and started blasting away. I shot at empty pop cans; I shot at the old burning barrel in our back yard; I shot at crows as they flew overhead.
My dad wasn’t a hunter, so I never learned much about that recreation. I was a little jealous when all my friends went pheasant hunting and deer hunting each fall. One Saturday in October of my sophomore year, I decided to try my hand at pheasant hunting. I drove over to a friend’s farm and trudged around the back 40 for a few hours with my trusty 20-gauge over my shoulder. I didn’t have a hunting dog to scare up any pheasants, so I had to rely on luck to see anything that I could shoot. After a fruitless afternoon, I gave up and walked back to my car.
As I was driving home, a huge rooster pheasant flew across the road directly in front of my car. It happened so fast that I couldn’t slow down or swerve one way or the other. I closed my eyes and flinched as the bird thumped against the front window of the car. Not wanting to miss the opportunity to bring home some game, I pulled over, turned around and drove back to where the pheasant lay on the side of the road – quite dead. I picked it up and put it in the back seat of the car and drove home, satisfied that I had met my quota for the day.
Finally, after I was engaged to my future wife, I was working for her dad on his dairy farm. He owned some untillable marshland that was filled with pheasant and deer. One fall during my junior year in college, I borrowed his 12-gauge shotgun and some shells and walked down to the pond where the pheasants and deer liked to hang out. Almost immediately, a couple of birds got spooked and flew up in front of me. I shouldered the shotgun, tracked the lead bird from across the pond and let loose. Much to my surprise, I scored a direct hit. There was a POOF! of feathers and what remained of the bird drop to the ground. When I tracked it down, there was nothing left of the poor thing except a handful of tail feathers. When I got back to the farmhouse, I told my future father-in-law about my experience and said there would be no pheasant that night for dinner. He looked at the box of shells I had used and said, “These shells aren’t bird-shot. These are deer slugs, you dummy.” I wasn’t sure if I should be embarrassed or proud of the fact that I had hit a moving target from 50 yards with a deer slug! Thus ended my stellar hunting career.
After exercising my 2nd Amendment right today, I thanked the woman at the gun store who had helped me. I said, “I guess I’ll need a box of shells too.”
“One thing I forgot to tell you,” she said, “we’re completely sold out of 9 mm ammo, as is every other gun store in the area, and I’m not sure when we’ll be getting more. I guess you’ll just have to conk an intruder on the head with your new gun if it comes to that.”
In my best Al Pacino voice I said, “Say hello to my little friend.”
We both laughed as I left the store.
I’m ready for the Zombie Apocalypse.