So I just read an article about how they’re going to let women have more opportunities to be in combat. They’re not gonna let ’em serve in Infantry or Special Operations positions (yet), but they will be afforded more and better opportunities to give their lives for their country – just like the men do now.
I’m not about to weigh in on the “Women in combat” argument that’s been around since I wore diapers. What I DID notice (and what prompted me to start writing this) was the comments at the end of the article. Most comments were by obviously left-wing conservatives or military families who were griping about women being in combat. I noticed that a lot of the folks on there who were whining were also spouting the standard lines about not giving up their guns, and 2d Amendment, and so on.
Got me thinking. About me.
Many moons ago, I worked at a gun store and shooting range. It was a pretty fun job for a mid-20’s guy who enjoyed shooting and blowing shit up in the Army, and I liked that I got to shoot the new stuff that came out, and I learned a lot about guns, ammo, how to fix them, etc. It was the culmination of a lifelong fascination with firearms. Working there afforded me the chance to hone my shooting skills by competing against the many folks who came in to utilize the range.
As Ricky used to say to Lucy on TV, “Lemme ‘splain you something…” See, the average customer at a gun store – in the store employees’ minds – is a dumbass. They’re dangerous, ignorant, and pretty horrible shots… not to mention they’re very unsafe at times on the range. I’ve seen people shoot themselves in the leg with stolen guns, saw a guy completely de-glove his thumb with a crossbow (he had his thumb sticking up when he fired… the string pulled the thumbskin right off), and generally have been witness to more than a few acts of stupidity. Honestly, it’s kinda hard NOT to develop an attitude of “better than them” when you’re around those kindsa things. You become hardened to the fact that these folks are people like you who just enjoy shooting and want to spend a day seeing how good they are, or practicing.
Back to my post. I don’t wanna get off on a tangent on why folks who work in gun stores are assholes, but let’s just say that they are and leave it at that. My whole point to the post was that I was reading comments on the Women in Combat thing, and most of the people leaving the comments were saying things along the lines of “They get my guns when they pry ’em from my cold dead hands” or, “The country’s letting FAGS AND WOMEN into combat! What’re we gonna do? Some fag is gonna try to cornhole me in a foxhole, and if I get stuck with some girl, she’s gonna get period-blood all over me and cramp up and I’M gonna hafta carry her out and get shot!” Then it hit me, I used to say a lot of the same things. I used to be completely outspoken about the “No women in combat” or “No taking away my guns” and I definitely was the kind of guy who would go shoot a few hundred rounds downrange and then go out to the local watering hole and tell big windy stories about my time in the Army, or how I know everything about guns and I’m a great shot, etc.
At this point in my life though, while I would find it fun, I really don’t have a desire to pick up another gun and shoot. Don’t get me wrong… I’m not renouncing firearms or anything. I definitely enjoy shooting, and when I go to my folks’ house, we all read gun magazines and talk about guy stuff and all that. It’s just that my personal tastes have shifted. Gone are the days of reading every gun magazine out there and having to know what the muzzle velocity of a Robinson Arms M-96 Expeditionary is, and what kind of rounds I need to run through my Glock 22. I just don’t care that much anymore. I also lost that attitude of “I can shoot better” or “I know more than you about firearms” that I had for years. I have a friend named Zach who is very much into shooting, and reminds me a LOT of myself when I was younger. It’s his passion and I like talking to him about it sometimes, but I find myself seeing the old me mirrored in him when we talk.
I dunno. I just don’t feel like that guy anymore. I wonder why that is. Why do people change their likes/dislikes completely? I don’t lament not feeling that way anymore. Far from it actually. I just wonder why that is. I went to the gun store the other day w/Zach, and the guys working there sounded exactly like I used to. Listening to them, I couldn’t help but be a little embarrassed – either for them or for knowing that’s how I used to sound – and I just kept quiet.
I guess I wish that the people who do own firearms and use them responsibly would be the ones they show on TV, so that the world wouldn’t think that every gun owner in America is a backwards redneck with delusions of importance. Maybe if the TV showed a guy who was well-groomed, concise and cogent, and wasn’t the bearded guy from the Ten Commandments (sorry Charleton), people wouldn’t be so quick to write people off as freaks. I mean, let’s face it: GUNS. You see a guy on TV with a gun and you log him unconsciously in your mind as either a whacko, a badass (c’mon, how many folks love seeing the reports on SEAL Team Six whooping ass out there) or Law Enforcement. Badasses and Law Enforcement folks don’t typically occupy the top tier positions in the nightly news.
I’m sorta running out of steam here on my point, so I’ll just end it by saying that I’m embarrassed over how I used to act, I can’t believe I said/did some of those things, and when I read others saying it, I remember back with semi-fond embarrassment. My tastes have changed and I was just wondering to myself why.