I own a Glock 19 semi-automatic 9mm pistol, which I bought when I was 24 years old. I haven’t fired it in at least nine years; it stays in a safe, is broken down in multiple pieces, and has a separate lock through the slide and the grip. The ammunition, which consists of standard and hollow-point, is stored separately. It takes multiple keys and knowledge of how to assemble the weapon for it to become ready to be discharged.
The frequency of mass shootings, as well as my own experience with gun violence in Washington, DC, has caused me to reconsider my gun ownership. Should I keep the firearm? Should I sell it back to a dealer?
Let’s start at the beginning. I decided I wanted to buy a firearm for a number of reasons: the excitement about firearms I gained from having been trained in various weapons through the military and other private courses, because I thought it was cool, and fore personal protection. In July 2008, I went to the “Nation’s Gun Show” at the Dulles Convention Center with a work colleague. He helped me find the best deal on the Glock 19, so I submitted my intent to the dealer to purchase it, the dealer “ran my information” through some sort of criminal check, and 30 minutes later I had a gun in my hands, as well as several boxes of ammunition.
I went to the range a few times in 2008 and 2009, and I haven’t touched the weapon since.
Since 2009, I have seen the effects of gun violence in Parkland, Florida, Newtown, Connecticut, Las Vegas, Nevada, and the countless other places that have experienced mass shootings. Dozens of people, many of whom were children, were killed by gunfire. And then I had my own run-ins with gunfire living in Washington, DC. I’ll never forget the night after the Capitals won a playoff game. We heard several pops outside. My wife asked if they were fireworks. My friend Dan, who is a US Army veteran, looked at each other and said, “No, those are gun shots.” Thirty seconds later, policy sirens stormed the street across from our condo building. As I wrote previously, the gun violence in the District is just one of the reasons I moved my family out of the city and into Arlington. As all of this happens, my anger is exacerbated when politicians, talking heads, pundits, and lobbyists come up with asinine reasons for why these shootings happened or blame those severely affected by the shootings for not doing enough to stop them in the first place. Can I own a firearm and still be disgusted at gun violence in our country? It’s a tough question to answer…
…and I think about the reasons I initially bought my firearm.
Two of the three reasons I bought a firearm in the first place no longer apply. I don’t think guns are cool and I am not excited about owning/having one. The only reason that still applies is personal protection.
My wife and I are somewhat concerned that an environmental catastrophe, nuclear war, or some sort of other national emergency can throw our society into chaos. If one of these were to happen and anarchy were to prevail, I would want to ensure that I had my firearm as a means of protection for my family.
While the likelihood of that happening is minuscule, it still exists, and it is a fear that we have. In the end, that’s the only reason I can come up with for why I would keep my weapon.
And while that’s the only reason I want to keep it, there are many others for why I want to get rid of it.
I now have a daughter, a child who will eventually grow to into a curious little human…and curiosity leads children to ask, “What is this? What is it for? Can I touch it? Can I play with it? Of course, she wouldn’t know about it for some time, but eventually would be old enough to ask me my thoughts on firearms and whether or not I owned one. If she’s old enough to do that, she’s old enough to go through my things to find the key to the safe. Glocks aren’t difficult to put together, so there is the chance that she could assemble it. Then if she finds the ammunition…
…and on and on into the downward spiral I go. Yes, the odds of all of those things happening are an almost impossibility, but it still could happen. Is it worth having the firearm in my home?
As my daughter grows older, she’ll hear politicians like former Senator Rick Santorum say that the children in Parkland, Florida should spend their time learning CPR to help save lives during a mass shooting rather than turning to others–like lawmakers–to solve their problems. She’ll hear words from President Trump who wants to arm teachers and give them “bonuses” if they carry firearms in school, despite a massive outcry from teachers against this.
Then my daughter will ask me why we have a firearm in our home. And I’ll have to explain to her that I have it because I’ve been trained in how to use it properly and that it is for me to protect her. And I just hope that she’ll understand…
So what do I do now, as a firearm owner, a veteran, one who was trained in a variety of weapons and understands their danger and how to operate them safely? Do I sell my firearm back to a dealer? Do I keep it?
Some days, I want to sell it. Some days, I want to keep it. But I honestly don’t know what to do because, as I mentioned above, I’m more conflicted than ever.
If you were me, what would you do?