I'm not a gun person. I didn't grow up around guns. I didn't grow up around people who went hunting. Guns are not part of my family culture. I've shot a shot gun at a can once out in the country. I've gone to a trap shooting event. That's it.
I had an opportunity to go to a shooting range and learn to fire a handgun. Other co-workers had gone previously and enjoyed the experience. Our industry deals a lot in connection to gun using industries (we make safety products like hearing protection and eye protection) so I work with a lot of folks who shoot or who hunt. I go to church with people who shoot or hunt. I have Facebook friends who shoot and hunt.
I was eager to try it. Honestly, I thought I'd feel... powerful. Kick ass. Big and bold.
I sat through the safety video on how to handle the gun. We put on our safety gear and headed out to the range. We were shown how to load bullets. My partner went first. She shot her 5 bullets and then it was my turn.
I was already jumping out of my skin every time a gun went off. The sound was jarring and violent. Even with earmuffs on.
I stepped up and loaded the 5 bullets. I loaded the clip into the gun (forgive any terminology here - remember, I am so not a gun person). I raised it and aimed at the target, using the sites to make a line the way they showed me.
I squeezed the trigger.
And I hated it.
I got through my 5 bullets and was done. I didn't want the gun back in my hand. Bottom line was that the purpose of a gun is to hurt someone. To end someone's life. And that isn't something I have in me.
I shared that feeling with others and the response was... "yeah, but if someone was hurting my kids, I'd be able to shoot that person!"
I don't know that I could. Just being honest. What if I miss and shoot my kid. And what are the chances of walking into a room and suddenly finding someone hurting my child and I just happen to have a gun on me or sitting on a shelf within reach? Or do I tell my kid to hold on while I go retrieve my gun and then my ammo so I can come and save the day?
Bottom line is that I'm still not a gun person. I'm glad that there are people who can handle guns. But I also wish that everyone felt such a strong sense of non-violence and such a desire for peace and love that they also weren't gun people. That they weren't violent people.
There is so much violence in the world right now. And so much violence in our country right now.
What's happening in Ferguson is just highlighting a piece of the big picture.
The picture is that this is a broken world. A world where too many desire to control, to be in power, to keep others down. A world where "I'm right and you're wrong" is more common than "help me understand your experience." A world where what's mine is MINE and what's yours should be managed by me because I know best.
A young officer shot his gun for the first time ever while on duty. He killed a younger young man. My heart breaks for that officer.
A young man lives in a town and in a country where the color of his skin has defined him since before he was born. Through a series of... unknown events... he ends up dead. My heart breaks for him, for his last moments, for his family and friends.
Lives are ruined.
Justice is desired.
But is there ever really justice in these circumstances?
The under the surface anger erupts again. Because peace was never really found. The anger of hundreds of years has continued to build and build and explodes from time to time.
I read a quote from a man who runs a ministry that serves the homeless population of a large American city... "I just want to end the suffering I see around me."
Maybe that's why I don't like shooting a gun. I don't want to contribute to suffering. I want to contribute to peace and love and joy. I want to contribute to compassion and caring. I don't want people to look at me and think that I could hurt them or kill them. I want someone to look at me and see eyes looking back that are filled with love, arms eager to surround them with compassion, a smile filled with joy. A gun doesn't fit into that picture of who I strive to be - who I believe I am called to be in Christ.
I guess it's like the story of the starfish on the beach and the kid tossing them back into the ocean and the old man saying there is no way to save them all so why bother and the kid pointing out that he's made a difference to that one that he threw back.
I know I can't change the world. But maybe I can touch 1 life with joy, with peace, with compassion. Maybe just 1 person will know that someone in the world values them and loves them, even without knowing them.
Some positive impact is better than no positive impact, right?
I have to believe that.
I simply have to believe that.