Nintendo’s Duck Hunter introduced me to the world of guns and moving targets. Bam! Bam! I’d jerk my hand eagerly at the TV screen, annoyed at how long it took for the next shot to fire, too many bird left flying free. Countless hours spent perfecting aim and comparing stats with older siblings until the BB gun arrived under our Christmas tree. Almost immediately, we discarded the orange, plastic revolver for the solid wood, pistol grip gun equipped with an action pump. This new toy, which it very much was to us, came with parental supervision that I welcomed. My old man lined up rows of empty soda cans for us on a big tree stump. One by one, we stepped up to shoot them down. The trigger between my fingers, the release of the BBs sailing through the air and the thrill of it hitting tin, hitting target, is amongst my favorite childhood memories.
In high school and college, I never held a gun nor saw one being passed around. And, thankfully, I’ve never been assaulted or threatened by a firearm. But I do know too many who have in the pursuit of mere pocket change. But it wasn’t until studying abroad and learning that the New Zealand police force – apparently along with the British – don’t even carry guns that I began questioning our American ideas of “safety” and “worth.”
This type of questioning, of course, is coming to a head at the national level with stats like the ones Lee Daniels shared at the DNC; 33,000 Americans die a year from gun violence, 90 people a day. I came face to face with this issue in a recent Lyft ride. It was a Tuesday morning, and Christian, my Lfyt driver, came in less than a minute. I got into the passenger seat asking, “How’s your morning going so far?”
“I just dodged a bullet.”
“No really, I literally just dodged a bullet.” He said, pale faced.
“I just picked up a business man dressed in a nice suit. On the way to his destination he asked to make a pit stop. No problem, I said. But when he got out he got into an altercation with some joker on the street who pointed a gun at me as I was about to speed away.”
“Yeah, yeah, it really happened just like that. This guy doesn’t even know me. I’m from South Philly, I train agents on how to hold and handle firearms. The fuck face wasn’t even holding it right. I talked him down, told him I’m a Lyft driver and I don’t even know this guy in the suit. Eventually, I sped away. But what’s crazy is I’m always packing. Today was one of the first days I didn’t carry a gun with me. I’m so fucking pissed. If I would have had my gun he’d be dead right now with just cause. I can’t even tell my mom about this, she’ll be so angry I wasn’t packing.”
I noticed on the front of Christian’s tee shirt was a Native American dream catcher and wondered if he really meant the words he said, if he really could handle that type of senseless bloodshed on his hands, on his conscious. At the same time, I thought about how vulnerable Christian must have felt at the mercy of some hotheaded joker with a loaded gun. The only response I could muster was the offering of a five dollar tip. “This not okay, Christian. I’m sorry you had to go through this. Hope the rest of your day turns positive fast.”
God Bless America,
A Warrior Princess