Guns still make me nervous. A while ago I went looking for a gunstore in Chula Vista so that I could overcome my anxiety. In the same way an entomophobic might force himself to spend the night in an insect house to conquer his fear of crawling things that hiss, I wanted to get over my fear of guns by surrounding myself with Glocks and Berettas. At the time, the one gun store I found in the city didn’t have any actual weapons. For the time being I had to go on living in apprehension.
There are 314 million people living in the United States. Seventy-nine percent of them are age 15 and older, presumably old enough to get their hands on a gun, legally or otherwise.
The Centers for Disease Control reported that in 2009, 31,347 people died from firearm deaths nationwide. More than half of those fatalities were from suicide. About 37 percent of those 31,000-plus were homicides.
The same report states that the top two causes of death in this country are heart disease and cancer. Homicide came in at 15. (Maybe we have more to fear from double cheeseburgers, sodas and cellphones than we do semi-automatic handguns.)
Still, I can’t imagine that being armed with those statistics is solace to anyone who has been shot or knows someone killed by gunfire. And when bad people go on shooting sprees as they did in Aurora, Colo., or Brazos County, Texas, numbers mean as much to people as holes in the ground. Unless they are death counts or graces.
After a friend told me about TDS Guns (the “friendly gun store”) on Bonita Road, I finally had a place to visit.
Their slogan is accurate enough. After watching me for what must have been an amusing few minutes of gaping at weapons on display, a clerk finally asked if I was looking for something in home protection. The words had no meaning. I stammered something about anxious and nervous and scared and overwhelmed.
It was suggested I look into a gun safety class in East County, the idea being to acquaint myself with a weapon to increase my comfort level.
I have no intention of ever buying a gun. I have no intention of never buying a gun. The idea behind this exercise is to be better acquainted with the subject of one this society’s greatest raging debates — the right to bear arms.
Leaving the store I thought of the bumper sticker that reads: Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. There’s truth to that saying. None of the guns in the store rose in the air and fired at me. Instead they remained harmless beneath a glass case.
As for the gun safety course I was told to explore: surrounding myself for a moment is one thing. But to handle a giant noise maker that can end a life? Well, that’s something else. I don’t know how far I can push my anxiety.