Arizona was, and still is, the Wild West. This week the Gunfight at the OK Corral celebrates its 126th anniversary in Tombstone which is less than thirty miles from our house.
It is not uncommon to see people walking around packing heat. When we first moved here, I saw a woman in the grocery store talking to a friend near the produce section. Her toddler was secure in his little seat and her cart was loaded with foodstuff. A holstered gun rested on her hip.
Later on, I saw a man in front of the post office talking to a friend. He too had a holster with a gun and was just nonchalantly chit-chatting away.
I asked our real-estate agent if it was legal to carry a gun out in public. She said yes and I burst out laughing. Annoyed, she asked what was so funny. I told her that I grew up around the greater LA area and lived in downtown Chicago for ten years. There, I could imagine having a gun but here…what are you going to shoot at? The Javelina?
She was not amused.
People in Arizona totally exercise their god given right to “protect themselves” by owning and carrying a gun. Ray and I have had people do a double take when we tell them that we live four miles from the border without firearms in the house. They think we’re nuts.
Ray’s brother Donald–a gun-toting Californian who recently relocated to Tucson and loves the relaxed gun laws–had the same feeling about our lack of firepower so he did the only thing an older brother could do; he gave Ray a shotgun for his birthday.
Donald, along with our nephew Tyler, came down from Tucson this morning to give us instructions on how to use Ray’s new shotgun. Donald has had guns all his life and is definitely not some yahoo when it comes to firearms. Tyler is a West Point graduate and, well, I would trust his judgement when it comes to this kind of stuff.
After being shown all of the general dynamics of the shotgun, the four of us went outside to try it. I got to shoot first.
I am of the left-handed persuasion but I golf, bat and, well, shoot a shotgun with my right hand. I loaded the gun, aimed and pulled the trigger.
Now, I’ve had friends say the first time shooting a gun is a memorable experience–almost like sex or something. When I shot the gun, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was surprised that it wasn’t difficult or scary. It was sort of anticlimactic from a sexual standpoint. I didn’t have the urge for a cigarette afterwards. It wasn’t much of anything really other than being loud. Very loud, and my ears–which are already messed up from tinnitus–rang even harder.
OK, it was kinda fun. He he he…
I blasted the little target man with buckshot. That’ll teach him to listen next time I say, “Git off mah property.”
Ray went next. He was a bit more accurate in his aim than I was but at that point it didn’t matter. Little target man was full of holes and wasn’t about to go anywhere.
Tyler, the smart one, protected his ears.
So now we have a shotgun. I was ambivalent about having a gun but it was the kind of thing where we felt like we should at least take it to a range and shoot a few times before we formed an opinion of guns and the people who carry them. As far as being inside the house, you don’t even have to keep it loaded. <<In my shotgun ownerspeak>> “All you really gotta do is stand by the front door and cock the mother fucker. Whoever’s outside trying to break in will hear it, get the idea rightquick and leave.”
That sound is quite universal. I know if I heard it, I’d think twice about breaking into a house.
If someone would have told me years ago that I would someday move to a remote spot in Arizona, grow a big old stache, get a motorcycle and a shotgun, I would have laughed in their face.
Guess they got the last laugh…