I love guns. They are seductive, with a visceral appeal that seems to bypass reason entirely and go directly to some more primitive part of the brain. When my uncle Jim saw that I couldn’t be dissuaded from buying the pistol, he offered to take me to a local firing range for the first of several lessons, using a large-frame Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum that he owned. To heft that gun, to squeeze off that first shot and feel the recoil shake my arms and torso, was to experience the power of an extraordinary machine. The pistol was dangerous and difficult to master. But by the end of my first session of target practice, I could consistently put six shots into center mass on a black silhouette target at 30 feet. It was hard not to feel like a badass. I also hate and fear guns. The .22 in my pocket had one purpose: to take a life. That reality was never far from my mind, and the thought that I might have to kill an attacker—or that an attacker might somehow take the gun away and use it to kill me—was deeply sobering.
more from Hal Stucker at Boston Review here.