I am not a protesting NRA member, afraid Obama will take my guns. I’m not even a good shot; I made the lowest passing score of all the women in my concealed carry class at Range USA. My bullets consistently hit the target low and left.
My instructor says I anticipate.
Every time, just before the gun fires, I lower the barrel ever so slightly in anticipation of the charge. Sergeant Karen Pomeroy of the Madison County SWAT Team says I fear the BANG! Even shooting downrange at a paper target with a trained expert by my side, I fear the gun. I was raised to know that means I will always respect it. My great-granddaddy’s shotgun hung above our living room mantle, after all.
I am a military wife who grew up in a small, rural town in Tennessee. In high school, kids often came to class straight from the deer stand, still wearing full camo. At age 10, my oldest daughter received a small-gauge shotgun for Christmas and took a hunter safety course so she could hunt with her father.
But owning a concealed pistol? That’s for protection. As a teacher and mother of three living in Arlington, where do I go that I need a loaded gun? The grocery store, the hair salon? I don’t feel threatened, but I do want to know the law.
So I sign up for the Tennessee Handgun Carry class, a class required by the state before you can obtain a handgun carry permit. I find myself wishing I’d rented a gun before purchasing my own. The featherweight Ruger Lc9 I received last Christmas sat in the safe for a year without being fired. At the range, it jams so often Pomeroy loans me her Smith and Wesson MC Shield. Right away, the fullness in my hand gives me gun envy.
learning safe practices
During the eight-hour class, I learn the parts of a gun, how to load and unload, how to put on the safety, and pull the slide without struggling. I learn to always point in a safe direction (usually the ground) and never at a person. I learn the importance of wearing eye and ear protection and a high neckline (no hot casings in the cleavage). I learn to choke up on my grip and poke my butt out for steadiness. I shoot 50 rounds, and still, I anticipate. I get a 100 on the written test, at least.
Pomeroy says gun owners are financially responsible for everything that happens once a bullet leaves its chamber. A warning shot in the air carries a felony endangerment charge in Tennessee because what goes up must come down. I learn jeopardy is more than an afternoon game show. Real jeopardy means the adrenaline-jumping, extreme fear that makes you pee a little — as in, “I fear for my life unless I neutralize this threat!” I learn it’s better to be a witness than to make myself a target by drawing my weapon to defend someone else. I am not the police.
Pomeroy shows us a variety of pistol locks. We discuss how to talk to kids about guns in the house, what safes are best, and where to put them. She demonstrates several holster styles, pointing out one for my petite frame.
I hope to never carry. She admonishes me, saying I should save my $115 and the trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles if I’m not serious. I figure I’ve come this far, so I get my permit. I want to be legal. I want to make informed decisions.
And if I am ever in jeopardy, I want to be prepared. I anticipate.