One household item considered to be a necessity here in rural Virginia is a handgun. Yup, a bang-bang gun. For me, growing up in a northern New Jersey suburb, guns were for criminals, television shows or maybe you knew a guy who was a cop.
You can buy a gun just about anywhere here. Rifles, shotguns, bullets and gun accessories can be found and purchased at the gun, local superstore or convenience store. Now mind you we’re not talking rifles or shot guns for hunting here but simply handguns for protection which are only available at gun stores.
I’d like to note that before moving to Virginia the only exposure I had shooting a rifle was at summer camp and at a turkey shoot on a date (I actually took home the gobbler!). I’ve never held or shot a handgun, but I did date a cop.
The Gun Store
Visiting an actual gun store is an event unto itself. If you never had the chance to experience it, let me fill you in on my initial introduction.
I entered the store with an actual feeling of fear. The reason for being so terrified? I honestly believed any one of those guns could accidentally discharge at any moment. With my upbringing, even though the ammunition was no where near the gun case, I believed it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. I wasn’t comfortable being around any of it not even the boxes of ammunition.
I never realized just how many different calibers there were nor did I understand the difference in the ammunition. There are words associated with ammo like granules, shell, and cap.
After the initial shell shock (no pun intended) I engaged the store owner in a conversation about why people here owned handguns. As we began to chat, I noted his weapon in its holster. I sorta bit my lip sideways. Would he actually shoot me? I learned later that yea he would if need be.
Why You Need a Gun Here
In New Jersey it never crossed my mind to ever own a handgun or keep a one in my home.
The hip-holster, gun shop owner gave me a quick lesson in why I may want to consider gun ownership and how ‘we‘ understand gun ownership here in rural Virginia.
- You may want to have a gun on your person or in a place where you can quickly retrieve it in case an animal attacks you.
- You definitely want to protect your domestic or farm animals from predators whether they be animal or human.
- Living remotely, folks may wander onto your land in error.
Now owning the gun for these purposes doesn’t always mean firing the gun. Today, the only option for me is #2, but I was listening.
What could possibly attack your dog? There are many possibilities – coyote, bobcat, rabid raccoon, or even an adorable beaver. Not because they are being aggressive but because it’s a natural instinct of survival. My domesticated – ok spoiled – dog is basically just another meal.
Now, would I honestly have the hutzpah to pull the trigger on another animal? I’m not sure, but my sense is if my dog was in danger I would. Same scenario if I felt an animal was approaching to attack me. I may not get the safety off in time, but you can be sure if it’s me or it, I’ll figure it out pretty fucking fast! Lastly, I do not believe that I would have the gumption to pull the trigger on another human being. Ever.
I think owning, understanding and taking guns as commonplace is something you’re raised with. As I said earlier, I was never exposed to any firearm except in very few specific circumstances. Neither was anyone in my family. My father never hunted or fished. If any hunted meat showed up on our table, I opted for the PB&J pass, but that’s another story.
There is definitely a respect and caution when deciding to own a firearm. Safety comes first and practice is also important. I’ve completed my safety course, am now a registered gun owner, and take target practice a couple of times a week.
Yet with all the preparation and knowing I’m at the ready, one Sunday morning my husband called out, ‘there’s a coyote on the front lawn.’ It was the call to action! I ran and in typical fashion grabbed my camera.