Jumping the Gun

The Beast

As debate intensified over a Supreme Court nominee, I kept eyes and ears on our Senators. Conservatives are ever vigilant as this choice is critical in retaining the American ideal as originally intended.

“The job of justices is to apply our constitution as strictly constructed by the founders. I believe the 2nd Amendment is a cornerstone of our democracy; the right to bear arms, a constitutionally protected right.” — Senator Marco Rubio

I hear his words, nod my head. Senator Rubio always compels. But his emphasis on the Second Amendment eluded me. I guess the ideal was never existential. Yet recent crime in my once quiet neighborhood has given me pause. Police were late to stop violence and perpetrators remain at large. I’ve always believed in 2A, the right to bear arms, but was loathed to be a bearer myself.

Little did I know, a gauntlet had been thrown…

“Five days of defensive handgun-concealed carry training!!!” My husband was practically levitating. His client, a senior NSA official, had made the offer. It’s a remote facility where NSA, FBI, Special Forces, military, law enforcement and regular marksmen go to get better trained. Impressive. As a longtime handgun enthusiast, my mate was ecstatic. Good for you, hun. I was jazzed myself — the half yearly sale was that week.

“And…”

There’s an ‘and’. I start to sweat. (Oft times ‘and’ is worse than ‘but’.) The generous offer was also for me, a handgun virgin. Oh dear God. Up till now, concealed carry meant hiding lipstick in skinny jeans. Arms-bearing was for Neanderthal and cowboy types. You know, men who get excited at Home Depot; the words DeWalt and John Deere give them goosies. Men like, well, my husband. The deadliest weapon I wield is sarcasm. Scoff, but the root meaning is tearing flesh. So don’t fuss with me.

I found excuses to avoid this ‘gift’ but my husband outgunned me. “We never do anything fun together.” Guilt. Low blow. So, I acquiesce. And hey, my guilty pleasure for spy novels may move from fantasy to reality. Who wouldn’t want to be like Mitch Rapp or Scot Harvath? No? Whatever.

My slaphappy hubby proposes shopping. Awww, he must feel bad about the guilt trip. Nope. It’s gun shopping. I drag my feet through Ammo Bros and Rifle Gear till my beloved gives a deadline. I pick a gun that’s black and shiny, the one Mitch Rapp uses to kill terrorists. Logical and romantic, don’t you think?

Assuming warm desert conditions, I pack my version of fashion-forward rangewear. My spousal unit suggests tactical pants. Excuse me? J Crew would not approve. So off we go.

When we arrive at the hotel/barracks, the warm desert is fricking cold. Hell frozen over comes to mind as I seriously question my wardrobe choices. And apparently, these 12 hr classes continue rain or snow with all instruction outside on Cold. Metal. Chairs. Good to know — yesterday!

Sir Evertooearly gives marching orders to his wife, Lady Latealot. 5am AIS (ass in seat). I sense conflict coming as he escalates to military time — zero dark thirty…or something like that. I’m not listening. Consequences of arming me still elude him.

With my super attitude, we enter the facility. Guards have fixed grins — head wounds, I suspect. They point toward 20 handgun ranges amid hordes of trucks and testosterone. Cue the eye-roll. We pass sniper’s point and various rifle ranges parking at #18 with the infamous metal chairs and 5 star facilities — a brown room with a blue lagoon. Still waiting for that ‘fun’ part.

Women are few but they look sturdy and walk with purpose. Suddenly, I’m skittish and feel like Cher from the movie “Clueless” starring in the sequel, “Clueless Gets Loaded”. Film nightmares fade to kindergarten flashbacks as they tape my name on my hat. Handy label for the body bag, I guess.

Introductions bring more good news. Instruction is all verbal — fast and loud. Ruh-roh. Ms. Clueless has an auditory processing problem. No, it’s not an excuse to ignore my husband’s babble. I learn visually and tactility. “And…” My gun is the worst choice for small hands and stature. At 5’5”, a buck ten, I’m wielding a weapon I swear weighs 150 lbs. Instructor code: The Beast.

“Why’d you pick that gun?”

“I don’t know. It was pretty. And Mitch Rapp uses it.”

“Who?”

“ Mitch Rapp. The American Assassin?”

“You read too much.”

Was he insulting me for reading? Neanderthal. He’s probably a closet Chaucer fan. HAHAHAHA.

Range drills begin and verbal volleys crash like a tsunami. My teeth chatter from cold. And panic. Language previously foreign becomes standard — controlled pair, thoracic cavity, cranial ocular shot. Rack and loaded have new meanings. Rounds are no longer drinks and number in hundreds. Yet, I never felt unsafe. Before entering the massive facility, background checks were mandatory and continual. Range safety was demanding. We must’ve magcheck-chamberchecked thousands of times. I couldn’t flip my hair without correction.

By day two, adrenalin and stress overwhelmed me. It was baptism by Beretta and I wanted to quit. But my Type A-DNA rebelled, so by day three, I was soaked, bruised, blistered with an internal shiver I couldn’t shake. Hot brass rained down on the short girl, so I was seared too. Remind me to send that NSA gentleman a ‘thank you’ note.

But in spite of my pity party, something else was happening. These folks were affecting me. These gun people were not the stereotype I’d assumed and nothing like anti-gun lobby caricatures. These were good, kind people; solid citizens who cared for others. They wanted to protect innocence, family, and country to the best of their ability. They didn’t just own guns, they trained to be effective if called to use force without inflicting collateral damage.

And the constant mantra: “We hope you never have to use these skills.”

These gun folks were sincere and protective. They saw my struggle, sharing wisdom without condescension. They weren’t violent Neanderthal cowboys, they were intelligent and interesting human beings. They loved art, politics, and some did like Chaucer. And not one F-bomb dropped with all those men.

Danny was our leader — serious dude wrapped in fun. And you gotta love a guy who calls you ‘baby girl’ at my age. The massive Marine was Sir Hillary. He never cracked a smile but trolled for mine with wicked humor. All the coaches had positives to offer.

“If we can’t applaud your shots we compliment your shoes,” quips Danny.

To reinforce reality, hostage targets were labeled with loved ones — my husband’s name on mine. Presumptuous, but sure I’ll run with it. I nailed the felons but nailed hubby, too. Was it repressed frustration for dragging me through this hell? Noooo. We’ll just call it a bad shot. Wink, wink. The mock-up house was my favorite. Sir Hillary flanked me through the silent, solo exercise where good and bad guys popped at every turn. It felt good to conquer evil and Hillary circled my controlled pair ‘Best of the Day’.

“You can have my back any day, Ruthie.”

“You mean I can have your ‘six’, Hillary?’’ He smiles! “See, I do learn things from spy novels.” Another smile! That was the best pair of the day.

At course end, I offered thanks. Danny wouldn’t shake my hand, he pulled me in for a bear hug, “You did great, baby girl. So proud of you hanging in there with that big ol’ man gun!”

There was something exceptional about this place, exceptional about these people.

Before SCOTUS confirmations, a few things learned I’d like anti-gun Senators to ponder:

More laws eliminating guns only removes guns from the law-abiding. Criminals don’t do background checks or buy guns from stores or gun shows. And limiting ammunition only prevents law-abiding owners from becoming safer and more effective.

At Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and other shootings, victims were dead before law enforcement was effective. Police are usually there in minutes, when seconds matter.

Most mass shootings are in gun-free zones. States with more open gun laws have few mass shootings.

Cars and drugs far outnumber gun deaths.

Many wealthy celebs and politicians have armed security. Average citizens only have themselves.

Still contending my new outlook? If someone was killing your daughter, would you care how I stopped them?

Are there stupid people with guns? Yes. There are stupid people with cars and stupid people who vote (i.e. Election 2016.) I went through 44 hours of training for a CCW permit. How many hours before teens get keys to a car? 6 hours. Voter instruction, less than zero (i.e. Election 2016.)

Am I a born-again sniper now? AS IF! But I had personal victories. Danny never complimented my shoes and I passed the CCW test, 97%.

Senators, these gun people are the heart of America, the best our country has to offer. Yes, we need screening, background checks and skill standards. No one wants terrorists buying guns and mental health needs vast improvement in this country. But without the Second Amendment, all other amendments are defenseless.

I urge you to join those like Senator Rubio and confirm strong originalists to the bench. For if we fail at this tipping point, these gun people, these sacrificial defenders of America, will become victims, the innocent will be vanquished, and evil alone will be at liberty.

At home on my range

“A free people ought not only be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.”

-George Washington–

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A remnant Conservative Christian from the beaches of SoCal. Working screenwriter, film festival judge, political contributor

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Ruth Ellen Johnson

Ruth Ellen Johnson

A remnant Conservative Christian from the beaches of SoCal. Working screenwriter, film festival judge, political contributor

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