Saturday, October 06, 2007

So I Married a Gun Nut...

Sunday my husband called me from his hunting trip.

(For the sake of marital goodwill I won’t tell you what I think of that – you can just read between the lines.)

“Honey, I ran off a cliff…” he said.
“You what?!” I screeched.
“No. No! No! I’m not hurt. And I have my GPS thing so I’m not lost.”

(Actually he didn’t say GPS “thing,” but I can’t remember what the stupid thing is called.)

“We chased an elk so far that we won’t make it back to our camp by dark – so I won’t be home tonight.”

(Now that I know he’s safe, I’m most annoyed because Monday morning is not my day to take the kids to school before work, and now I’m going to have that to deal with, but I digress…)

“Brother-in-law and I will be sleeping in this (fill in some fancy term for heavy-duty and extra warm, yet lightweight) sleeping bag together out here in the rain.”

“Well,” I sighed, “That’s romantic.”
“Yeah –“he guffawed, “we can hardly wait.”

Given my feelings about hunting (which, please note, I am not disclosing here), I had a hard time sympathizing. Actually, I don’t have strong feelings about hunting one way or the other, it’s more that I’m surprised to find myself married to a man who hunts.

Sometimes we joke that he did the “bait and switch.” Shortly after we were married he developed a great fondness for fishing and bought a boat. I tolerated this – I even went along sometimes, because I like being out in nature (and eating fresh fish) too.

But then one day he said, “I think I’m going to sell the boat and buy a hunting rifle.”

At least he claims that’s what he said. What I heard him say was, “I know you thought you married a handsome Nietzsche, Literary Fiction and Fitness Buff, Seafood and Beer Connoisseur, but Surprise! You married a redneck!”

(For the sake of accuracy, my husband would like the internet to know that he was not just sitting in a pick-up truck, drunk, waiting to shoot an animal that happened to walk by. He walked miles and miles with only a bow and arrows – he’s a very fancy, athletic and highly skilled sort of hunter.)

In fairness, I suppose I’d had some warning. It was when we first married that my husband started lobbying for a gun.

“It’s a good idea – self defense,” he said, “I’ll teach you how to shoot it.”

I said, “Sorry, but I’ve spent several years volunteering in a domestic violence shelter – I happen to know that if there’s a gun in my house, statistically speaking, the person most likely to get shot by it is me. NO guns.”

“So wait,” he said sarcastically, “I’m not that kind of guy, but as soon as we get a gun I might just think, ‘Gosh, she made the omelets a little dry today, I think I’ll shoot her?”

“Well,” I shrugged, “You never know.”

I managed to put him off like this until we had kids -- then he finally gave up. He said now that we had kids in the house it wouldn’t make sense to have one anyway. He says we’d have to say to an intruder, “We weren’t expecting you tonight – could you give us ten minutes? We just need to remember where we wrote down the combination to the safe, then run to the basement to get some ammunition and then to the attic to get some bullets – just sit tight, help yourself to a glass of Port, we’ll hurry.”

I never ever ever imagined that I would be married to a man who thinks it’s a good idea to own guns, but I guess at least I’m not married to an entirely senseless man who thinks it’s a good idea to own guns.


radical mama said...

Yeah, I am with you on gun ownership. I want nothing to do with them. My husband feels the same way, so it's not a conflict at our house.

But cuddling with the BIL in the rain? I dunno, seems like a fitting punishment! :)

landismom said...

Wow, yeah, it's a little hard to imagine having that conversation in the post-marital period. I'm glad that he gave in to reason on the gun ownership.

I guess there's a boy who loves to camp at the heart of every husband, though.

Nathaniel said...

Why do you think that having a gun in the house would cause someone to get shot? Guns fire because someone pulled the trigger, just like a knife cuts because someone is pushing it through something. It's not going to jump up and randomly kill anyone.

Obviously, you shouldn't get a gun if you don't want one and don't want to get the training to use one effectively. But remember that there are several hundred million firearms in this country, and more children die in bathtubs and swimming pools than from accidental gun discharges. Remember too that normal citizens use guns all the time to protect themselves and their families from criminals in their homes and elsewhere. It's worth considering.

Sandy D. said...

nathaniel, a lot more teenagers take their parents' guns and kill themselves than you would believe. That's the age group I would be really worried to have a gun in the house, because they're good at discovering secret combinations, too.

I wouldn't say no to an elk steak. But how's he going to get that meat back to the truck if it's miles and miles out (in the rain, no less)?

PS I'll bet your dh wouldn't approve of the word "fancy" as applied to his athletic and highly skilled hunting prowess. LOL

Linoge said...

You know, after studying far more statistics and probabilities than I would have liked in college (and ultimately coming to the conclusion that mathematics is just a step removed from magic), I found an interesting quote floating out there: "Statistics are like bikinis - what they show is interesting, but what they hide are the really important parts." Perhaps a somewhat mysoginistic remark, but take it or leave it.

First, you may as well say how you feel about all of the situations at hand - your snarky "between the line" comments have made it more than clear for anyone except a complete dunce.

Second, 99.99% of the time (ooh, a statistic - after all, 85.76% of them are made up on the spot) firearms do not simply go off magically by themselves, and somehow manage to wound/kill someone in the house. A spouse, if he or she is abusive, is going to be abusive whether there is a firearm in the house or not. Owning a firearm does not somehow innately make you more violent, or less violent. Firearms are not animate, they have no mystical mind-control auras emanating from them, and they certainly cannot think for themselves.

Third, statistically speaking (drat, there's that word again), only 0.3% of all firearms in America were used in violent crimes in the year of 1997. Now, that webpage does not actually indicate those numbers, so how did I come to it? First, it does provide the number that only 691,000 violent crimes (out of almost 8 million) in the year of 1997 were committed with the assistance of a firearm. Second, a recent study indicated that Americans own somewhere around 270,000,000 firearms total. I crunched the numbers, rounded up a little (since, in 1997, Americans probably did not own 270 million firearms), and there you have it. Also, this is assuming that a single firearm is only used once in a crime - which, by the way, is a fallacious assumption, and would only serve to lower the percentage even farther.

So you are worried about a 0.3% probability of "failure" (I use that term loosely - there is effectively no such thing as a firearm "accident")? You stand a higher chance of being in a car accident than that, and yet I would imagine you use one almost every day.

Third, I am remarkably entertained that you hold "Literary Fiction and Fitness Buff, Seafood and Beer Connoisseur" and "firearm owner" as diametric opposites, while instatneously relating "firearm ownership" to "redneck". Overgeneralize much? Let it be known that I currently own two firearms, and plan on many more in the future. That said, I have recently completed three Heinlein works, am currently muddling through an Alan Dean Foster (pulp fiction, effectively, but boy his vocabulary is impressive), and have a Dan Brown and B.F. Skinner next on the chopping block. Perhaps not the classics, but hardly Harlequins. Also, oddly enough, I work out every day, and somehow manage to keep my body-fat percentage below 12% (though my mass keeps increasing, which annoys me). I eat seafood whenever I can (especially sushi), and while I hate beer with a passion, I have quite the wine locker (not a cellar, as I live in an apartment) in my humble abode. Suffice to say, I am probably not classifiable as a "redneck".

Fourth, ... well, actually, I am not even going to address the patently ludicrous reaction you provided to his even-more-ludicrous hypothetical situation. Absurd.

Fifth, the scenario he provides (and you obviously support) of a home intruder while you have children is completely and utterly assinine (and, yes, I mean that word honestly). Would you rather tell the home invader that you would kindly like him to leave, since his noise is probably going to wake the children? Or, wait, I bet you want to call the police? Well, statistically speaking (ACK!), the police might arrive within ten minutes. Something tells me the home invader can shoot you, shoot your husband, shoot your children, and make off with your money and jewelry in that time. Could be wrong.

Furthermore, multiple court cases have indicated the the police system bears not responsibility nor duty to protect individual citizens. How about that warm, fuzzy glow of hoplophobia now?

And, last, but not least, arranging your firearm and ammunition in such a manner "for the safety of the children" is... well... stupid. First, by and large, most bullets are already attached to their respective cartridges, and are therefore qualifiable as "ammunition". Some people reload spent casings, and would thus have loose bullets laying about, but I think it is safe to say those people keep all-up-rounds handy for home defense and range shooting. Second, why not lock up both your ammunition and your firearm in the same safe? If you lock it every time, as the responsible adult you no-doubt are would, there is no cause for concern - I doubt any of your children are yet accomplished safe-crackers. Third, if you educate your children concerning the dangers of firearms and what to do if they ever came across one, as opposed to simply sheltering them from the concept and thus leaving them clueless should the situation arise, you might actually have a safer household. Yes, children occasionally shoot themselves or their friends, and it is undeniably tragic. But the fault of the situation lays squarely upon the shoulders of the parents for either not adequately securing the firearm (either on their persons, in a place the children know not to go, or locked up, depending on tastes) or not adequately educating their children, or both. In short, be a parent, and parent properly, rather than being an ostrich-sheep hybrid and following the hoplophobe pack in stuffing their heads in the sand.

I apologize for the long comment, and, in fact, I doubt this comment will be published - the number of resources I provided will no doubt trip a moderation function, and I have to wonder if it will ever leave the moderate queue. However, I do hope you take the time to read it, and realize just how judgemental, irrational, and illogical you are being about this entire situation.

Nathaniel said...

Sandy, forbidden fruit is almost always tasted by teenagers. That's why schools pass out condoms these days rather than attempt to teach abstinence. Clearly, it would be stupid to tell a teenager to never touch Dad's gun, thereby ascribing to it a tempting aura.

So instead, you take the kid shooting and teach him gun safety. Again, there are teenagers all over the country with their own hunting rifles and shotguns, and they don't hurt anyone. They are taught from a young age to handle firearms with care and respect. When they become teenagers, they know that guns as just another piece of hardware--hardly worth getting excited about.

I'm not sure if you're worried about accidents or suicides, but the numbers for both are regularly published. The data in that report demonstrates that kids (under 14) aren't dying because of guns. Unfortunately, I don't have numbers for the number of suicides/accidents among teenagers that use guns from the home. But it's really not that relevant anyway, because any teenager knows several other ways to kill himself. Is it the gun's fault if by being present in a home a kid chooses to kill himself by shooting himself rather than cutting himself or hanging himself? If we insist on keeping firearms out of the home to prevent teens from having access to them, we should also keep knives out of the home, for example. What's the difference?

Staci Schoff said...

Linoge -- My pretending not to disclose my feelings about my husband hunting is an (apparently disturbingly unsuccessful) attempt at subtle humor.

Second, I'm well aware that my husband could kill me without a gun - wouldn't take him but a few minutes. I'll remember to take comfort in that hereafter.

Third, I apologize for my lack of technical gun knowledge -- if I wasn't clear in my post, I'm really not into guns. The point is that my husband and I agree that guns and small children don't mix and any that we might have would be stored in a manner so as to be entirely useless in a home invasion situation. Don't worry about us though, we do have a variety of other weopons, plans-of-attack and so forth, because luckily we're just as paranoid and delusional as the rest of the people who spend a lot of time considering the possibility of home-invasions.

Finally, I didn't call people who own firearms rednecks, I called hunters rednecks. I know it's not nice, but it is a common stereotype. I do have at least half a brain, however, and I am aware that not all rednecks hunt, nor are all hunters rednecks. I'm also aware that redneck is loosely defined and not a nice word to say.

Weer'd Beard said...

Great Link, Linoge. Sadly all your hard work fell on deaf ears. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

And so my own life experiences can be ignored. I was born into a Liberal house, and like my parents I had a dislike of guns. When I graduated highschool I elected to go to school in central Maine. I made many friends in the more Rural countryside, and I was very suprised to find that not only did most of their families own guns (and not just hunting rifles, but shotguns, and handguns) but many of them were not any more locked up than the kitchen knives, or the medicine cabnet, or the drain-o under the sink. Many of these people carried their guns as well.

There was virtually no crime. I have a lot of family in Vermont (which has almost no gun laws at can buy your first gun at age 16 and carry it loaded and concealed with no permit required, just the federal background check) there is almost no crime there, and again very little of the "progressive" ideas of gun storage (gun locked, disasembled, ammo locked in different areas). Just simply placing the gun in a cabnet unloaded with the ammo beside it, and making damned sure all in the house respect the safty rules.

I currently live in Boston, the amount of violent crime (knife attacks outnumber gun ones 2-1) is MUCH higher. But the gun laws are VERY restrictive (licence required for ownership of any gun OR ammo, police have the right to refuse a permit for any reason, minimum age for a handgun is 21, all are required to take a safty course, and private sales are limeted to 4 per year, and must be tracked by the state) yet almost all of the criminals don't follow our gun law (hell most of them aren't even of AGE let alone have a clean background, and legally buy the gun).

Guns are tools like anything else. If properly and smarly used and stored they are SAFER than common household items like knives and chemicals (a young child likely doesn't have the strenth to load most firearms, or even to pull the trigger, yet they can cut or poison themselves with ease)

I'm not saying this to scare you, nor did Linoge talk about domestic violence to scare you. I assume that your husband is not violent to you not because you don't supply him with the tools to do you harm (we both agree that's foolish) but because you don't choose to allow people who are violent or dangerous into your life (I don't either).

Certain things have danger in a house, and that danger can often be lessened to almost nothing simply by being smart about it.

I understand the dangers of guns, but do you understand the lives that they save?

Linoge has a point. You may not agree with it, but ignoring it might not be the smartest idea.

Anonymous said...

Staci, for the record my husband and myself raised Three Daughters; all are quite normal. All collage grads have wonderful careers and I am very proud of them. Further they were all raised around Firearms. All shot competitive trap, and pistols. Before they were 16.

I would assume in your opinion we would be classified “Red Necks” You gave me a great promotion idea for my husbands dental practice. A free possum with a root canal…Perhaps the insurance company I work for could offer a free box of shot gun shell with a new policy. Further we also own a Pick up truck (a Big F-350 to boot) I can not recall anyone ever being drunk in it.

By the by he has spent several years volunteering to domestic violence shelters also. Guess you high–fluent folks in Oregon do things different. Because in the rest of the Country the battered women are generally beaten with fists, and the occasional blunt object.

Staci, it is a machine. Just like the car you drive. They do not jump up load themselves and shoot people. In the various clubs and associations we belong to of the thousands of people, no one has ever shot anyone. It is highly doubtful any ever will.

I know you are well meaning but be angry at the person, not at a machine.

cce said...

Looks like you hit the NRA hornet's nest with a stick, Staci. Better you than me. And I won't get into my opinions on gun ownership. You know, trying not to feed the trolls and attract them over to my website where they will surely set up shop as haters. But dying to hear about your husband's night in the sleeping bag with the BIL and a steady drizzle. Perhaps he'll reconsider the hunt after such an experience.

Jill said...

As entertaining as your post was Staci, these comments are waaaaaay better. Maybe I ought to do a gun post just to shake things up a little!

While I don't like hunting (never been) I fall into the camp of people who believe it is acceptable to own a gun for hunting, but precious little else unless you are a police officer.

The Armed Canadian said...


Why do you fall into that camp? Are you the sort that thinks guns are evil in your hands but yet you would ask a stranger to bring that evil to you on your behalf to defend you?

As pointed out so eloquently, the police have no duty to protect you (or even show up if you dial 911). If they fail to arrive, you still have a problem. You have someone that is a threat to you that needs to be dealt with.

Are you honestly telling me that faced with a threat to your family or your children (if you have any), that you would willingly submit to whatever the intruder wanted? Or would you fight back with anything you had at your disposal? Guns are simply one means of fighting back. Hands, feet, clubs and knives work too when you back is against the wall. Just not as well as firearms.

Police officers are not on a different plane than you or I. They are human. Harried and underpaid and in possession of no special talents with regard to guns. In fact, most of them are bad shots and are more likely to injure an innocent than a civilian owner who takes their responsibility with a firearm seriously.

Your camp is a very dangerous place to be. It also conflicts with existing law and American attitudes. The 2nd Amendment stands in the way of your camp.

If you don't believe it is acceptable to own anything other than a hunting gun, fine. Don't own one. That is your choice and I respect that. But your right to impose restrictions on MY choices end at the tip of your nose. I will respect your choice; just don't impede mine.

Not trying to sound harsh but I simply do not understand that line of thinking.

Anjali said...

Do people who read your blog just not get your tone of voice? Your healthy sense of wit? Your delightful humor? Your sarcasm?

Is it not obvious?

ColtCCO said...

Did Jill somehow miss the recent events, in which a police officer decided to off six people in a fit of pique over being dumped? An isolated occurence, certainly, but so are civilian mass muders. Are the officers of the law the only infalliable stewards of fireams, whereas eveyone else not endowed with a badge, can not 'acceptably' own a firearm, or they will go berzonkoids?

That logic won't wash.

For the record, the people I personally know who own firearms range from highly literate, intelligent and athletic, to slack jawed morons, just like every other groups of 100 miillion. Way to unfairly stereotype every one of the doctors, lawyers, judges, military and Law Enforcement professionals, professors, CEOs, and other highly successful, savvy people I know for a fact own and use firearms to defend themselves and their loved ones.


a happier girl said...

Holy cow the comments turned into a gun debate! I just wanted to say that I understand how you feel because I hate guns and I somehow ended up married to a guy that likes guns too. He attempted to ask me last month if it would be okay if he went hunting on my birthday.

Pendullum said...

Did the Elk get away????